Harvest Chapel church members were shocked to find the inside of their little church building totally destroyed by vandals this past Sunday.
“People were here for a Bible study Thursday night and everything was fine then,” Pastor Carol Hoke said. When the congregation gathered for their regularly scheduled 2 p.m. church service on Sunday, they were met with standing water on the floor, an overturned and broken piano, broken chairs thrown about the room, a broken toilet in the bathroom, as well as the sink torn from its wall. There was graffiti on the front door, the bathroom door and the prayer shawl (tallit). The racks of clothing free to those in need lay broken with the clothing soiled in the water from the bathroom.
Harvest Chapel opened its doors in the early part of 2008, becoming a safe haven for those who are outcast, Hoke said.
In a 2008 interview with the Herald Pastor Doug Hoke said, “We want to take care of their physical need as well as any spiritual need they might have.”
After finding the chapel in the condition it was left in my vandals this past weekend, Carol Hoke said she could not imagine why anyone would want to do this.
The police were called to the scene immediately after the vandalism was discovered. After asking if it could be considered a “hate crime,” Hoke said she was told that the state of Oklahoma only considers it a hate crime if it involves homosexuality, or racial issues.
“I told him if this had happened to an Islamic mosque or a Jewish temple, it would have been a hate crime,” Hoke said.
The graffiti included the pentagram and the symbol “6 6 6,” as well as blasphemous language toward God and Christ.
Carpets were saturated with water and glass, the PA system and overhead projector were demolished. An attempt was made to burn down the church, having a box of matches stacked around the gas line and lit, but due to the busted pipes and water spewing everywhere, it wouldnt burn.
Hoke said the items inside the building were not insured. “Everything had been donated to the church,” she said.
When asked if she had any idea who might have wanted to do this to Harvest Chapel, Hoke said she could not imagine who would ever want to do this. She couldn’t think of anyone who was angry at the church or any of the members.
The Chapel was not only a place for any person to come and worship, it was also a food bank and had free clothing for anyone who needed it. They had boxes of Christ-centered material (books and tapes) available to the public, plus a backpack program for children who needed school supplies.
The Harvest Chapel motto has always been “offering food, clothing and love,” and the members don’t care what you look like, how you are dressed or if you had a bath last night.
“It is what’s on the inside that’s important,” Doug Hoke said.
What was once a simple sanctuary used to worship God, now sits nearly totally destroyed. Very little was left untouched by the vandals.
“We are still victorious,” Hoke said. “God provided everything the first time, and He is able to do it again. The devil is definitely unhappy with us, and that suits us just fine.”
Despite the shock of such evil action toward a peace-loving congregation, they chose to worship the God they love. The small group gathered in the grassy area behind the church and had their Sunday afternoon worship services as planned.