Dallas pastor reflects on progress since 2019 tornado tore through community – Spectrum News

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DALLAS — Rev. David Lara spends his weekdays inside his church, Primera Iglesia Dallas, preparing for his latest sermon. 
In a small office space, Rev. Lara sits at his desk, flipping through pages in his Bible, finding strength in Psalms 27. “The Lord is my light and salvation. In whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom should I be afraid of?”
Those words have become even more true in the last two of his more than 40 years of being the pastor of the Northwest Dallas church.
October marks two years since the costliest tornadoes in Texas history struck parts of the North Texas area, leaving places along Walnut Hill Lane, including Rev. Lara’s church, in pieces.
“All of this, everything was gone,” Rev. Lara said as he pointed at a space where a family center once stood. A tornado ripped off the roof of the building, leaving it a complete loss. He says the cement foundation is all that’s left. 
While their main sanctuary lost parts of its roof, they were able to save the building; but the damage and COVID-19 prolonged their re-opening.
 
“Nobody in our congregation got killed or hurt or nothing, you know. So, we thank the Lord, we’re thankful for that,” Rev. Lara said. 
It’s also not the first time the longtime pastor has had to endure loss. In a filing cabinet, Lara pulled out a newspaper from the year 1984. It’s when their original church building was burned down in Oak Lawn. The ten tornadoes that struck the North Texas area racked up around $1.5 billion in damages, according to the Insurance Council of Texas. 
Rev. Lara says the rise in commodity costs because of the pandemic led to their insurance money only really being able to repair and renovate the main church building. For the last six weeks, he’s finally been able to hold services within his own church. Rev. Lara says they’re working to build back up their congregation numbers as well. 
“The Lord’s been good to us. At least we have a building here, even though it’s half, it’s only half,” Rev. Lara said. 
It’s a step in the right direction, but the pastor says they need more space for their church members and activities. So, they’re planning on speaking to their insurance and mortgage companies to find the necessary funds to rebuild their family center. 
“We still have a ways to go,” Rev. Lara said, adding that they’ll continue to put their trust in God and keep their eyes forward. 

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