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Church stays positive after truck crash

By Jeff Clemetson | Editor

Not everyone greets a truck crashing into their building with humor and forgiveness. But that is exactly how the congregants of the San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian Church treated a March 6 incident, where a city-contracted tree-trimming truck rolled down a hill on West Point Avenue, across Harbison Avenue and right into the church’s Sunday school building.

“At least we can say this morning — certainly in La Mesa, probably all of San Diego — we may have the only tree-trimming truck parked in a Sunday school classroom. At least we can get a good laugh out of it,” said John Miller who helps teach English Bible studies at the Taiwanese church at a special Sunday service following the incident.

The special service on March 10 was held outside and brought together a mix of neighbors and congregants past and present.

“It’s hard to say it is a celebration when something like this happens to the building but in reality we are celebrating life because nobody was hurt so we’re very grateful to be out here,” said Pastor Shuang Tsai through an interpreter.

Many of the speakers at the service praised the miracle that no one was seriously hurt in the accident. The truck crashed only a foot from gas and electrical lines and according to witnesses almost hit a neighboring home with four children inside.

John Miller shared that a postman saw the truck start to roll and opened the door to the home with children and warned them to get out because the truck was heading directly to the home but then a curb “deflected trajectory of the truck, so instead of going into that house it bounced back” and hit the church.

Most affected by the accident are the Sunday school children who could not use their normal classroom. But, as Pastor Tsai pointed out, they also took the inconvenience in stride.

Members of the San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian Church gathered March 10 to celebrate that no one was hurt in the truck accident. (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

“They didn’t complain,” he said. “They stepped up today and we’re very thankful for that.”

In addition to being thankful for the accident not hurting anyone, Pastor Tsai also expressed forgiveness and understanding for the workers in charge of the truck that crashed into the church.

“One prayer today is about this person who operated this vehicle,” he said. “And we really don’t know who it is, but we know how bad he feels and I think through our prayer we need to kind of ask God to comfort him and have mercy so he has that peace.”

Sunday school activities at San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian Church will also need to find some peace in a different part of the church — at least for a little while.

“The truck is going to be here for several weeks because they have to get a permit to be able to raise the building and move the truck out,” said Jenelle Miller, wife of John Miller who also helps at the church.

But the church might not have to wait too long to remove the truck and get fixed back up because of the help of some “good Samaritans”— a professional external designer, who happened to drive by and see the truck crashed into the church, has offered to help the church rebuild, and the city of La Mesa has already fast-tracked some permits to get the rebuild started, said church elder Winnie Davis.

In the meantime, the church members are staying upbeat and taking the situation in stride with some humor.

At the special service, Pastor Arturo Ayala, who runs a Spanish-speaking Pentacostal congregation that rents the church for Sunday afternoon services, likened the accident to Christ’s message of acceptance.

“Wow, he opened a big door now,” he said. “Thank you Lord, you sent a message to us to be open-hearted and receive all the community around because we are one church.”

— Reach Jeff Clemetson at

Source: La Mesa Currier

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