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The Church of the Burning Valley

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Pastor Drew Anderson believes his church has been targeted because of the work he does to help Phoenix police remove drugs and dealers from the streets.

PHOENIX — Despite the scorched floor and the smell of smoke, Pastor Drew Anderson and his wife took a break from cleaning Thursday evening to listen and pray for a believer who entered their church.

They took a moment to help someone in need, even though they were going through something themselves.

“Someone actually broke our window and threw a Molotov cocktail device and set the front of our building on fire,” Anderson said.

Early Monday morning, someone set fire to the entrance to the Legacy Christian Center. A shattered window, burnt chairs, carpet and glass were among the things damaged and destroyed.

“We feel like we’ve been targeted because a lot of the drug dealers in this area know we’re actively trying to bankrupt them,” the pastor said.

He and his wife, Pastor Kenya Anderson, began preaching in parks, helping the homeless community. In October 2018, they established their church near Central and South Avenues.

In addition to spreading the Bible’s message, they feed the homeless and coach youth football. The pastor said his goal was to keep young teens out of trouble and drugs.

It is because of the work he did to clean up his community that he believes his church was targeted.

“In the four years that we have been in South Phoenix, on several occasions we have partnered with the South Phoenix Police Department to get them information on local drug dealers in that area,” Anderson said. . “Because unfortunately we have had funerals here for the past two years for more than five young men, ages 15-19, who overdosed on fentanyl.”

Monday’s incident is the second time his church has been targeted, he said. In February 2021, someone threw a brick through his glass door.

“It seems like the first time they did it, it didn’t scare us. Now a second time they raised the level of fear, to try to scare us away, but we are here for good,” he said.

Anderson believes the damage from the fire numbered in the thousands. They put in place a GoFundMe account to help them get back on their feet and fully reopen their church.

“It’s a huge setback for us because we’re a small church, but big in our hearts,” Anderson said. “My wife and I are going to keep fighting this fentanyl and we’re going to keep fighting for these kids.”

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