The congregation inside Thergood Memorial Church of God in Christ in Willis may not fill up all the pews, but Mother of the Church Ida Gonzalez says they do fill the building up with love.

“I know we’re going to have a blessed day because God is in the presence,” she says. “We feel it when we walk in. It’s just the love in this church.”

She says that feeling was fostered by the church’s pastor, Bobby Johnson.

“He’s a great pastor. He’s marvelous. He’s the pastor,” says church member, Betty Smith.

Johnson’s family is coping with unthinkable tragedy.

On Friday, an early morning fire destroyed their home, sent several generations to the hospital and killed 13-year-old Terrance, 6-year-old Kaila and 5-year-old Kyle.

Now more than ever, church members say, Johnson is leaning on his congregation and on the Lord.

“We’re praying that our pastor gets healed and God heals his heart,” says usher Alice White. “We know it’s a tragedy, but everything God does is for a reason. We don’t understand it, but we trust in God and believe everything is going to be all right. “

“We hate the loss of the grandchildren, but we’re united,” adds Gonzalez. “We love each other. The love in this church is a for real love.”

They hope that love flows right out of the building in Willis and helps the Johnson family heal so that soon, they’ll fill up these pews again.

“All I can say is, ‘Just pray.’ That’s all I know is just pray,” Smith says.

The Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office has not yet released a cause of the fire.