WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — New Birth Baptist Church has been a staple of the community for several decades, serving the east side of Wichita Falls for nearly 20 years.

Their motto; “Not just a different church, but a church that makes a difference.”

They live out their motto by serving those in their very own backyard, from feeding the homeless in their community to serving them Thanksgiving, allowing them to call their families, or just being a place where they aren’t looked down upon.

Darion Newsome, chairman of the deacons at New Birth Baptist summarized it best.

“We’re not a big church. We’re a church with very little, but we love to give a lot,” Newsome said.

That also looks like worship services every Sunday morning, bible studies every Monday night, and a handful of events in their community, like large gatherings in Spudder Park.

Newsome said his wife, who helps the church with their finances, was headed up on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, to count the week’s offerings and get a deposit ready at about 5:30 p.m. But when she arrived, something wasn’t right.

“She got ready to park, and the guy comes walking out the door,” Newsome said. “From the passenger’s side, then he seen my wife in the car, then jumped in the car, and took off.”

Newsome’s wife called the deacons and the pastor, who came to the church as fast as they could, but the damage was already done.

The worship center was ransacked, and torn apart. Wires were pulled from the ceiling of the worship center.

“When we came in, it looked like a tornado had just torn all through there, like they were mad at us or something, ya know,” Newsome said.

Some microphones were taken. The church’s vault was pulled from the wall. Two freezers worth of food that was soon to be used to feed the homeless were gone. Sodas and water bottles were stolen. And that’s just scratching the surface.

When Judge Smith, pastor of New Birth Baptist, arrived at the church, he said he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“When I arrived, it was just… To see our church, place of worship, trashed, it was so alarming,” Pastor Smith said. “They took our vault, they were able to burst it out of the wall.”

That vault contained important church documents, as well as the offering from the week.

This wasn’t the first time the church had been burglarized. Just barely over a year ago, on September 6, 2021, their entire sound system was taken. Church members said they’d just recovered from that burglary when the church was targeted yet again.

Newsome said he was heartbroken, and that this time, it felt a little more personal. He said all of this could’ve been avoided if that man who burglarized the building had just asked for a helping hand.

“If he’d come and asked us, we would’ve tried to help him in any way possible,” Newsome said. “Food, or gas, or you know, if you kids need something… I mean, we’re a small congregation but we come together, and we believe in helping.”

Pastor Smith said even though it felt more personal, it didn’t stop their congregation from worshipping, despite the damage done to their place of worship.

“We decided to lock hands and pray and praise in the midst of what we were experiencing,” Pastor Smith said. “You know, we understand that sometimes we’re tried in the fire but we’ll come out if we just hold onto the faith, ya know. It didn’t crush our faith .”

Newsome said times like these are a test of faith. And while he’s heartbroken by the damage done, he said New Birth Baptist doesn’t plan on stopping the work they’re doing.

“That’s something New Birth Baptist Church refuses to do,” Newsome said. “We might get knocked down but you guarantee, we’re gonna get back up ’cause our faith is way too strong to keep our head down, so if you catch one of us with our head down, don’t think we’re sad, we’re praying on it.”

But in order to keep helping those right in their backyard, they need to make some changes. Newsome said they’ve got to install some cameras. Pastor Smith said they need an overall upgrade.

“We gonna move on doing the Lord’s work,” Pastor Smith said. “We’re going to do the necessary upgrades and try to secure it the best we can.”

Those upgrades don’t come cheap, nor does replace everything they lost.

Newsome said they’re hoping to raise $3,500 as soon as possible to secure their church and replace the food that was taken so that they can feed the homeless in their community.

“If anybody has it put on their heart that wants to help, thank you in advance,” Newsome said. “Thank you very much. We’re gonna continue serving the lord and we gonna continue serving our community.”

How You Can Help

If you’d like to help New Birth Baptist Church rebound from this crime, there are multiple ways you can do so. First, you can attend one of their upcoming fundraising events. They’re not quite scheduled yet, but when they are, the church will post the events on its Facebook page.

Another way to contribute is by sending funds directly to the church. You can do that via CashApp ($NewBirthchurch2004) or via U.S. mail (P.O. Box 8069).

You’re also welcome to attend one of their worship services and give then. New Birth Baptist Church is located at 301 N. Rosewood in Wichita Falls.