ASHEBORO, N.C. – There wasn’t much to say for Pastor Eric Johnson. All he could do was watch his church go up in flames as firefighters destroyed the building in a controlled fire.
Never in a million years did he think the Providence Baptist Church in Asheboro would burn the way it did on Friday.
In 2008, Johnson received the church as a gift from the previous congregation, The Gospel Baptist Church.
“They gave us everything,” Johnson said. “From 2008 to 2012 everything went well.”
He poured almost $50,000 in new renovations, but the trouble began in 2012. That’s when a powdery substance was uncovered during the basement remodeling.
Johnson said the powder contained toxic mold that they didn’t know about at the time. He said the mold started attacking his body within 24 hours of exposure.
His health was a constant struggle for an entire year. He said his immune system crashed and he didn’t know why.
“I still have neurological problems, I can’t sleep without help, memory problems,” Johnson said.
It came to a point where his doctor sent him away for further testing at a clinic in Clearwater, Florida. That’s when tests revealed he had been exposed to toxic mold.
Coming back to Asheboro, Johnson knew he could never set foot inside his church again. The church held its last service there in 2013.
It took five years to decide on what to do with the building. Johnson said it would’ve cost $100,000 to make basement repairs and no guarantee the work would be a success.
“We can do all that and be right back in the same boat in which we started,” Johnson said.
It was a painful decision to let the fire department burn his place of worship. He’s hoping God can allow them to rebuild on the same land as the church, but in a different area.
“He gave it to us and he has a plan for the next thing as well,” Johnson said.
The pastor said there was an agreement when he occupied the new church that he could never sell it, but only give it away.
Johnson says there was no way he could do that in the condition it was in. The church services have been relocated to two office units as their temporary home.