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Church destroyed just before holidays

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RIDGELAND, SC (WTOC) -

A blaze early Wednesday morning destroyed a Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ridgeland.

Church members who helped build it are in shock after watching their hard work go up in flames.

Investigators said a business a few doors down from the church was intentionally set on fire, causing the church to burn to the ground.

Church member Miriam de Leon said they were planning on having family together for a Christmas party on Saturday evening.

"Now we don't have anything," she said.

Church was recently built and was part of a shopping center that had no sprinklers or firewalls inside.

De Leon said her family remodeled the church.

"Jesus gives and Jesus takes. This is [a] real surprise," she said.

The De Leons got emotional seeing their place of gathering burn to the ground.

"We took too long to build that. But now, we don't have anything. Jesus gives to us and take away," she said.

It took many years for this congregation to find a place to call their own. She said that they rented a facility for about five years and that 10 months ago they had moved to this space.

"We were happy we didn't have to pay rent anymore," she said.  "We don't have anything. That is why we cry. I hope God does something soon for us."

Fire officials said the Mini Bar in the complex was broken into and burglarized.

The fire is being called suspicious. State investigators are also working on the case.

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