Arkansas: Faith Rising Up amid Flood Waters

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Rivers in the state of Arkansas, among the many that feed the mighty Mississippi River, are also overflowing their banks at record levels.

The flood waters have poured into both homes and churches. Despite their losses, the faith of many residents remains strong.

The Elnora Freewill Baptist Church in Pocahontas, Ark., is meeting in a different building because flood waters from the Black River, nearly four feet high inside the church, have destroyed the interior.

"I'd like to fire our yard keeper because they watered the grass too much. And I'm going to fire the janitor because the church is a mess," Pastor Jerald Dean joked with his congregation who responded with laughter.

Dean has tried to encourage his congregation during this time of uncertainty and loss.

"The people just couldn't believe it. They just could not believe that the water could get that high in that area. But it did, so we're making history," Dean said.

Throughout the worship service, many church members could not hold back their tears.

Dean said the church did not have flood insurance and it will be long time before the congregation can get back to normal.

"I didn't know what we were going to do," he explained. "It's just devastating to this congregation. I mean, they were so proud of that building."

Despite the devastation, church members continue to sing praises to God.

In Des Arc, Ark., the White River is the ominous one, reportedly cresting at the highest level in recorded history.

The city's Gospel Mission Church has fed and housed around 1,000 people.

"If it hadn't been for our church, we wouldn't know what to do right now," resident Stacy Cobb said. "Our son is six and he doesn't understand. He asked to go home the other day."

"So that was sort of hard because I had to try to explain to him we can't go home because flood water is so bad," she said.

The Cobb's house is about a half-mile from the White River and they don't have flood insurance.

In the city, even the shelter volunteers have been displaced from their homes.

"I can't get to it unless I go by boat," explained Beverly McIntosh, the city shelter director.

Yet, Des Arc residents and in nearby Pocahontas refuse to give up hope.

"The Lord's going to take care of us and we're going to be better than before. We believe that," Pastor Dean said.

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.