Protesters in Philadelphia threw flammable chemicals on the city’s Vietnam Baptist Church and set the building on fire during Tuesday night’s unrest in the city after a fatal police shooting.
The Baptist Press reported that the church’s pastor said that when he learned the church was on fire, he prayed to God that the hard drives that were stored in the building were safe. Pastor Philip Pham told the news outlet that there was over a decade’s worth of information and documents regarding immigration paperwork and taxes for members of the community.
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“I saw the routers and modems and things surrounding the hard drives all burned, melted,” he said. “But that piece of hard drive, no harm. No harm at all. Just two feet above that, all melted. … That is amazing how God knows our needs and answers our prayers. He is an almighty God. He granted our prayer.”
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Looting and violence erupted in the city in the wake of a deadly police shooting that resulted in the death of a 27-year-old black man. Police said Walter Wallace Jr. had a knife, refused officers’ commands and was approaching officers at the time he was shot. Wallace’s family blame police for his death and said they did not have to use deadly force.
For the past three nights, the city has absorbed looting and violent police clashes that resulted in 91 arrests on Monday night alone.
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“I have no idea why they attacked our church,” the pastor said. “They burned it from the roof. They threw flammable chemicals on the roof and [the fire] burned through the roof.”
ToddStranes.com reached out to the church on Thursday, but the number was disconnected.
The Baptist Press report said that Pham urged pastors to share the words of James 1:20: “The anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God.”
The report said that he urged his community to trust in God during times of hardship.
“Just do right,” he said, according to the report. “Don’t copy [those who practice violence], but do what the Bible says and what He wants us to do. Love them and pray for them that they may know Christ, that the Holy Spirit may convict them and they may seek God.”