4-year-old daughter of Tennessee youth minister among tornado victims
The 4-year-old daughter of a youth minister is among at…
Before Tommy Haynes steps to the pulpit, the church sings “Our God, He Is Alive.”
There is a God, he is alive. In him we live and we survive.
From dust our God created man. He is our God, the great I Am.
The minister’s eyes well with tears as he reflects on the song and the people in the pews — many of them out-of-state disaster relief volunteers.
“When you’ve been on the verge of crying all week, it’s not just the sadness,” he says. “It’s from the joy of seeing so much pouring out of this congregation.”
Teens and adults in cowboy hats cook smoked sausages outside the church. This group drove 430 miles from the Denver City Church of Christ, southwest of Lubbock, Texas, to prepare meals.
Inside, worshipers — many wearing bright orange “Disaster Assistance” T-shirts — maneuver around ceiling-high stacks of emergency food and supply boxes delivered by Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort.
Volunteers prepare free meals at the Central Church of Christ in Moore, Okla. (PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD)The church’s sign along Interstate 35 normally grabs drivers’ attention with catchy Bible verses and witty sayings.
But now it declares simply: “Disaster Relief Center.”
Karen West was at work when the tornado destroyed her home.
“I thought when I left work,” the church member says, “that I just had what I was wearing.”
But later, her son recovered her wedding ring set and a few treasured paintings by her late husband, Randall.
Mostly, though, she’s starting over.
“I’ve got my family,” she says of her three children and six grandchildren.
But she’s quick to stretch out her arms and point to her other family, too — her church family.
“I know God’s good, and he’s taking me through everything,” she says. “It’s just emotionally difficult.”
God didn’t cause the tornado, but he will use it for his glory, the preacher assures.
He turns to the Bible:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” — Psalm 46:1
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” — Galatians 6:9-10
Disaster causes some to question God. Buddies who served as first responders have come to Casey Haynes, “just wanting answers.”
On the other hand, the 26-year-old Freed-Hardeman University graduate says the tragedy has boosted his faith.
“You see the way people respond,” he says of the volunteers. “You see the fact that God is working with the disaster, even though he wasn’t the one who caused it.”
Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].
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