When Vietnam Baptist Church Pastor Philip Pham first learned his congregation’s building was under assault by Philadelphia rioters and that the structure was in flames, his immediate reaction was to ask God to save a hard-drive.
“I prayed right away: ‘God, please protect the hard drives,'” Pham told The Baptist Press (BP). “Other stuff can be recovered. But those files will never be recovered.”
That hard-drive was irreplaceable because it contained years of documents and information from the church’s role as a community resource for immigration issues, taxes and marriage counseling.
“I saw the routers and modems and things surrounding the hard drives all burned, melted,” Pham told The BP. “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.”
Pham said he has “no idea why they attacked our church. They burned it from the roof. They threw flammable chemicals on the roof and [flames] burned through the roof.”
Pham might well be expected to be angry and vengeful over the senseless burning of his church building, but he instead counseled anything but anger.
He noted the words of James 1:20: “The anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God,” and added that, “you cannot use your anger and be justified. I would like to bring this message to all the young people.”
For those among his congregants who feared what might happen next as Philadelphia neighborhoods are burned and pillaged by rioters, Pham told BP that he reminded them God is in control, no matter how bad things appear.
“So many things we don’t know, but God knows, so just trust God,” he said he told them. “Just do right. 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.”
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