DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s been 24 years of rebuilding and recovering. After a bomb went off outside of the first assembly of God church in Danville.

“All of a sudden it went off and it put a big hole in the wall. So, there’s sunshine coming through the wall and drywall flying everywhere,” Nicole Van Hyfte, one of the survivors, said. “So, it looks like the white light right. So, I was like is the rapture happening? Am I dead? What’s going on?”

In reality, a pipe bomb had exploded about 10 feet from where she was sitting in church, 24 years ago.

It had been put in a duffel bag and placed behind an air-conditioning unit outside the church. When they bowed their heads to pray before the offering, that’s when the blast happened.

“I remember asking them if I was going to die and them not answering. I remember asking if my friends were dead and them not answering, and it was just really scary. I mean at 14 experiencing that. It sounds like a scene out of a movie and it almost feels like that too to be talking about it again,” she said.

She was a part of the youth group and every Sunday they sat together in one part of the church toward the front. It just so happened, it was next to where the bomb blew a hole through the church wall. So, teenagers like her were the ones to bare the brunt of the explosion. All those years ago, no one died, but hundreds of people were left with a trauma, bonding them for life.

“We’ll never forget, and it does kind of make us special in some ways, but I really do think that sometimes the hard things in life make us better,” Bonnie Pirie, the church administrator, said.

Now, Van Hefyte works for the Vermilion County Chamber of Commerce. A job she said is important for her to give back to the community that was there for her.

“Danville and Vermilion County is an amazing place to live, to work, to play and to raise a family. This community has had my back from the get-go,” she said.

Richard White is the man who bombed that church and another one in Oakwood. Four days after the Danville Church bombing, police tried to interview White. But he died in an explosion before police were able to. Five months later, a joint task force of local and federal authorities officially implicated him.