Days after the burning of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, some good has come out of that disaster. As people donated millions of dollars toward the rebuilding of the historic landmark, social media influencers on Twitter encouraged their followers to remember the three black churches in Louisiana that were recently targeted by an arsonist. The result is the Louisiana churches have surpassed their fundraising goal of $1.8 million by more than a million dollars as of this writing.
“It’s a blessing. It’s going to help our community. What the devil meant for bad, God’s going to turn it into something good,” Rev. Gerald Toussaint told CNN. Toussaint is the pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, which was targeted on April 4th. The other churches that were burned were St. Mary Baptist Church on March 26th and Greater Union Baptist Church on April 2nd.
Slow Progress at First
The GoFundMe campaign started on April 10th. Its original goal was $600,000, but was later revised to $1.8 million. However, the campaign had only raised just under $93,000 by the morning of Tuesday, April 16th, according to a screenshot taken by this Twitter user.
When the Notre Dame fire happened, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to launch a fundraising campaign in order to rebuild the cathedral. As millions of dollars started pouring in, Twitter influencers called for donations to the Louisiana churches. Journalist Yashar Ali in particular actively promoted the churches’ GoFundMe campaign. One of his tweets to that effect got over 31,000 retweets, 925 comments and over 62,000 likes.
Hillary Clinton, former NFL player Benjamin Watson, and news anchor Jake Tapper were among others who tweeted, encouraging people to donate. By Wednesday, the campaign met and exceeded its $1.8 million goal.
Yashar Ali later tweeted a graph that GoFundMe sent him of the dramatic spike in donations after the buzz picked up on Twitter, saying, “Look at what Twitter did! Look at what you did!!”
52. @gofundme sent this to me last night.
Look at what Twitter did! Look at what you did!!
Thank you again for generosity!!!! What a glorious 36 hours. pic.twitter.com/aZTRxtp9A9
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 18, 2019
The fire at Notre Dame, which is 850 years old, occurred on the evening of Monday, April 15th. While the cathedral’s spire was destroyed, the structure of the building survived, as well as many of its historic artifacts and artworks. Thankfully, no deaths were reported, and there was apparently only one injury.
Notre Dame’s fire is believed to have been an accident connected to the cathedral’s renovations, but authorities believe the Louisiana church fires to be related and criminal in nature. They have arrested 21-year-old Holden Matthews as a suspect and have charged him with arson and hate crimes at the state level, although he could face federal charges as well. Matthews has pled “not guilty.”
The finance secretary for the Seventh District Baptist Association, which is hosting the Louisiana churches’ GoFundMe campaign, says that the money raised will go toward all three churches equally. On the GoFundMe page, she expressed gratitude, asked for prayer, and concluded, “We will overcome this tragedy together because we are ONE BODY IN CHRIST!”