(Photo courtesy Sammy Tippit Ministries)
USA (MNN) ― A fire swept through the office building where Sammy Tippit Ministries is housed on June 29.
Evangelist Sammy Tippit says although he was allowed access briefly over the weekend to do damage assessment, "The police have everything cordoned off and they've got police patrols there day and night, 24 hours. No one can get in there--not even the tenants. There is an ongoing investigation taking place."
Although the damage was extensive, it could have been far worse. First, nobody was injured. Then, "The south section is where the fire took place. Our office suites are in the north section of the building. Nothing was destroyed by fire, our problem is the smoke damage that has taken place inside our office." Computers and electronic equipment may be damaged, and some of the office files and furniture might not be salvageable.
It has already been a rough year for the ministry. The difficult economy forced a lot of changes in staffing due to steep funding drops. Tippit says more cutbacks were on the table. "Right before I got the call about the fire, my wife and I were talking about the cuts that we're going to have to make and saying, 'What do we do?' Then, all of a sudden we get this call about a fire."
Tippie says there was good news, too. "Just a few hours before the fire took place, we were able to get our visa applications off, our passports out of the office and sent away for our visas for our trip to Uganda." A disruption in the paperwork would have thrown the mid-August trip in jeopardy. "We're going to be training 20 evangelists in Uganda. We've already seen where we've trained evangelists that thousands come to Christ."
The ministry has insurance and has a claim number, but the insurance company has not inspected the offices. Tippit is confident that the insurance will cover most of the cleaning/restoration/repair of files, furniture and equipment. Property management estimates it may be weeks or months before the ministry can get back into the office.
Tippit says while there is some stress, "God is our Provider, and I know He's going to provide. But it's just a time where your faith is tested. We've got to just remain faithful. We're going to keep doing what God has called us to do. We're going to keep bringing the Gospel and training leaders."
Their immediate need starts with prayer. "Pray that we would have unity, that we would have creativity as to how to operate. We're meeting at Starbucks for our staff meeting. We don't have a place to meet, we don't have anything, so we need God's wisdom in even knowing how to get together."
Without access to their equipment, the first thing they'll need to do is to get a couple of laptop computers to keep up with communication. Tippit won't let something like a fire slow the team down, but they do need help. "We need wisdom, we need guidance, and we need financial provision. Pray for the insurance people that all of our claims would go through expeditiously. We just have so things going, we need that equipment. Pray that we could get the equipment as soon as possible."