Church deacon and his son among victims of duck boat tragedy (Updated)
UPDATE: Another member of a Church of Christ perished in…
For members of the Kingsley Terrace Church of Christ, Irvin Raymond Coleman often was the first face they saw as they arrived for worship.
“Every Sunday he would stand back there and open the doors and invite folks in, just a quiet man,” said Stanley J. Hubbard, the church’s ministering evangelist, as he addressed the congregation before a time of prayer.
But the 76-year-old usher, known as Ray, wasn’t with his Indianapolis church family on this Sunday morning. Three days earlier, Coleman and eight of his family members died when the duck boat they were riding in on a Missouri lake capsized.
“Things go wrong because the world is in turmoil, not because God’s picking and choosing who to take out at a certain time.”
Seventeen of 31 passengers perished on Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Mo., when strong winds from a storm system overturned the amphibious duck boat, owned by tourism company Ride the Ducks.
Two members of another Church of Christ also drowned: Steve Smith, a deacon of the Osceola Church of Christ in Arkansas, and his 15-year-old son, Lance.
Related: Church deacon and his son among victims of duck boat tragedy (Updated)
Only two of Coleman’s relatives — Tia Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew — survived the tragedy.
The family had bought tickets for an earlier ride but missed their boat after going to the wrong duck boat business, Tia Coleman told reporters. When they arrived at Ride the Ducks, the group was allowed to switch their tickets for the 6:30 p.m. ride.
“I couldn’t hear screams, it felt like I was out there on my own,” Tia Coleman said. “And I was yelling, screaming and finally, I said, ‘Lord, just let me die, let me die, I can’t keep drowning, I just can’t keep drowning.’ And then I just let go.”
In the family’s hometown, members of the Kingsley Terrace church prayed for Tia Coleman and the other survivors as they mourned for their usher.
“It’s even hard to get your mind around the idea of what the survivors are dealing with … survivor’s guilt, the loss of their children” said Hubbard, a Beaumont, Texas, native and longtime minister and counselor. Among the victims were Tia Coleman’s husband and children, ages 9, 7 and 1.
“We want to pray for them,” Hubbard said, “and let me say something before I pray, because I’m always bothered when people say stuff like, ‘Well, the Lord knows what he’s doing. He knows who to take, when to take them.'”
The previous Sunday, the church “identified that death is not a part of God’s plan,” the minister said. “God doesn’t decide to bring trauma into people’s lives. He doesn’t stop every possible situation from happening, but it’s not because God does not love us or care for us … God is not planning out evil and difficulty inside your life. …
“And so I want you to be aware that these traumatic things happen, but it’s not a sign that God has decided to do something against someone. You’re living in a world where sin has infected the world and people die. Things go wrong because the world is in turmoil, not because God’s picking and choosing who to take out at a certain time.
“It’s because the world you’re living in has gone insane.”
Hubbard prayed that God would give the Coleman family “all the peace and strength that they can muster to go through this challenge.”
During his sermon, he told the congregation to be risk-takers for God, to eschew the behavior of the Israelites in the wilderness who complained and longed to return to Egypt.
Most of all, he urged them to “take advantage of every second we have,” because someone else’s bad decision could cost them their lives.
“This may be your last second,” he said. “Whatever you go through, thank God you’re alive to go through it.”
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