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Blogging live from Oklahoma City
The tornado that destroyed Jason and Kala Leger’s home wasn’t enough to stop Thursday night Bible study.
Last week, I visited the ruins of the house in the small town of Newcastle, Okla. I interviewed the couple as volunteers from my congregation, the Memorial Road Church of Christ, and Oklahoma Christian University cleared debris. (Jason Leger got international media attention for uttering, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” on a YouTube video after the storm.)
We just posted the story on the tornado written for our July print issue, due to arrive in mailboxes soon.
Each Thursday night, (the Legers) and 30-plus Christians filled every corner of this 2,100-square-foot home — now a mass of broken bricks and tattered, wet insulation — to worship and work. They crafted the lessons for children at their congregation, the Southwest Church of Christ in nearby Oklahoma City.
Less than 48 hours earlier, their house was one of the first hit by a tornado that intensified as it plowed eastward toward Moore, Okla. There, it wiped away entire neighborhoods, toppled two elementary schools and killed 24 people — 10 of them children.
Read the full story.
Each participant — and each visitor — at the Thursday night Bible study wrote his or her name on a paperback Bible, which the Legers kept in a bookcase at their house. The shelves jokingly became known as “The Lamb’s Book of Life” and served as a sort of encouragement to come back next week. The more Thursdays you missed, the lower on the shelves your Bible moved.
The tornado tore apart the shelves. The waterlogged Bibles — bearing the names of regulars and infrequent guests alike — were strewn across the field of debris. (There’s a sermon in there somewhere. It reminds me of the temple curtain being torn in Matthew 27, for some reason.)
The Legers said they would buy more Bibles and continue the Thursday night studies. They kept their word, as my wife and I witnessed when we visited them last night. In a youth classroom at the Southwest Church of Christ’s building, the couple passed out new Bibles. The youths met at the church building so that, after the study, they could help prepare for Vacation Bible School, which starts there June 3.
We brought some copies of the July print issue for the church. The Legers’ story is on the front page. When it was time for prayer requests, one of the youths asked Jason Leger also to remember “non-famous tornado survivors.”
“God can use some crazy situations to his glory,” Jason Leger told the youths. He said he was humbled by the media attention and glad he was able to say something in a moment of suffering that, in some small way, made people think about the divine. He talked about a.gif?Action=thumbnail&Width=460&algorithm=proportionalt bag his family recently received from a secular company — bearing the scripture he quoted from the book of Job and six new Bibles.
“I wish I could say I’ve chosen to do the right things more often than I have,” he told the teens, urging them to be aware that God will give them opportunities to be a witness for him.
“Be on your game,” he said, “because people watch for those defining moments. People want to see who you are when things aren’t working well.”
Steve Spor led singing during the Bible study. (I’m jealous of his “Divine Dynasty” T-shirt, a souvenir of a “Duck Dynasty“-themed youth encampment earlier this year.) Spor has worked with the church’s youth for about four years and has been a regular participant in the weekly Bible studies. He and his wife were flying home from a vacation in Cancun, Mexico, when the May 20 tornado hit. When they landed, they learned that the Legers’ home was gone.
“So many things can’t be replaced,” he said, but the things that matter most were “not lost” — lives, fellowship and devotion to Christ.
After Jason Leger’s talk, Spor led a song I had never heard before.
When the valley seems so dark and deep
And the burdens hard to bear
When the storm clouds gather in the east
And it seems that no one cares
Remember you are not alone
Look closely and you’ll see
The Savior watching over you
And He’s watching over me
The lyrics seemed quite appropriate for what a lot of us in Oklahoma and Texas have experienced in recent weeks.
My wife and I are glad we got to spend a little time outside the disaster zone with the Legers.
And yes, there are now two new Bibles bearing our names, waiting to be placed on a new shelf in a new home.
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