23 April 2009 ~ 0 Comments

Simply Amazing Tornado Account

This is the incredible account of the pastor/runner (my kind of minister!) who encountered the tornado on Good Friday "quite first hand." It is a little long, but oh, what a story. He describes the actual eye of the tornado as he is horizontal to the ground.

I am doing a wedding at his church this weekend (Chariti Law's) and hope to see him. I've got 1000 questions for him. And we might even talk some about running!

Enjoy. Be inspired. Be grateful for the God he speaks of.

Angels Performing
Ballet
– David Young

Angels performing ballet. Unbelievable, I thought. This can't be real. I was
lying on
my side wrapped around a tree like a koala bear looking straightup into the eye
of
an F-4 tornado. And the debris at the top of the funnel looked just like angels

gracefully performing ballet.

How ironic. Those few seconds in the eye of the tornado may have been the
most peaceful seconds of my life. It felt transcendental and sweet.
That is, until the back wall of the tornado slammed against me, hurling two-by
fours,
trees, and sheet metal at 200 miles per hour.

Here I was caught on the trail in the middle of a tornado. It was Good Friday,
and
my mind was distracted. A minister for a large church in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee,
a few miles south of
Nashville, I was thinking about the Easter
program that had required so much preparation over the last several months.
I should have been thinking about the Resurrection itself, but I confess that,
instead,
I was obsessing over the details of the upcoming service. We were hoping for
2,000
people at church, and there were so many things that could go wrong. It had
been an exhausting week of preparation, and I just kept going over the program
in my head.

What I needed, I decided to myself, was a good workout. I hardly paid attention
to the weather reports this Good Friday. The broadcasts since last night had indicated
that storms were expected to blow across Middle Tennessee around lunch time. At
around
11:00 that morning a local traffic reporter had warned Nashville to
eat lunch early
because of approaching storms. A tornado warning had even been issued 60 miles
northwest of
Nashville.

Most people knew to stay off the trails for the next several hours. I should
have
known too. But I really needed to run, and somehow I convinced myself that the
storms were all north of
Murfreesboro.

I've been a runner all my life, though I rarely run competitively. I mostly run
to
manage my weight, to relieve stress, and to talk to God. Last fall I had
trained for a marathon, but two weeks before the event, I accidentally
swallowed a fish bone
and ended up spending a week in the hospital with abdominal surgery for an
acute abdominal infection. Recovery after that had been slow, and I was down
from
running 35 to 40 miles per week to running 15 miles or so. I was determined to
build back up to a respectable distance.

Today was going to be a good run. In spite of the warnings, the weather felt
great: mid-60's and overcast. My energy level was up. My motivation was high.
It was my day off, Easter was approaching, and I was eager to run off some
stress. I intended to spend time in prayer, which I do in the form of an inner
dialogue with
God pretty much every time I run. My prayers sometimes take the form of
memorizing Scripture or merely offering thanksgiving. More frequently, however,
they take the
form of character discussions with God. I talk to God about my weaknesses,
and together we develop strategies for helping me to mature. I often preach to
myself as I run, lecturing myself on the need to be stronger, more disciplined,

and more like the One I follow.

I drove to my favorite running spot, a paved greenway that meanders four and a
half miles along the
Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Stones River is a
small river, but it has a big history. It was here that one of the largest
battles in the
Civil War was fought a century and a half ago. Ninety thousand soldiers slugged

it out on New Years Eve 1862 and on New Years Day 1863, as Federal troops
continued their slow push towards
Chattanooga, and, eventually, Atlanta, Savannah,
and the
Atlantic Ocean.

A hundred yards from where I parked my car on Good Friday the battle had ended
on
January 2, 1863, as thousands of Confederate troops forded the frigid river and
tried to climb the western bank, only to be slaughtered by Federal canon,
canister,
and grapeshot. Twenty-three thousand soldiers fell fighting for this river.

The modern greenway was opened in the 1990s and is a popular place for the
people of
Murfreesboro. Any given day you can find people walking their dogs,
bicycling, strolling with friends, fishing, or running. When I parked my car
and
began my run, it was a couple minutes after
noon, and there were
several others
on the trail walking. I had run six miles on the treadmill the day before, so I
planned
to keep it to a gentle four miles today. I was wearing a headset, a white
headband, my favorite running shorts, and a new rain jacket.

The rain jacket was important, because I had just bought it in response to a
near
disaster that my buddy, Thad, and I had experienced backpacking a couple months

before. We are winter backpackers, because we don't like heat. We had gone up
into the
Smoky Mountains on a four day backpacking trip back in February. It rained the
whole way up the mountain on the first day. We arrived at camp just as the
darkness
came and as the temperature dropped to dangerous levels. A windstorm suddenly
blew in, and all my raingear failed. By the time Thad managed to build a fire
(against all odds), I was slipping into hypothermia in the freezing
temperatures. I couldn't stop shivering, and for
ten minutes or so, I hovered as near to panic as I've ever been. By the next
morning,
I was mad at myself for being so ill-prepared after years of winter
backpacking.
I was even angrier with myself for feeling panicked.

When I got home, I decided to buy the best raingear I could afford, but I also
decided that, of all people, a minister ought not to panic, regardless of the
circumstances.

I began to talk to God about trust, and I began to read about others who had
survived extreme circumstances. I looked inward and asked myself whether or not
I have what it takes to manage an extreme situation. I have the kind of brain
that can obsess over such matters (I get that from my dad, and I've passed it
on, I'm sorry to say, to my son).
So, I began to role play disasters in my head every single day. I began to tell
myself,
every day for the last couple months, that I will never go down without a
fight. I made a commitment to God and to myself that I will stay calm if ever
confronted with disaster.
I will trust God, act smart, and be a man. For me, this commitment was not an
act of
strength; it was a confession of weakness.

So, even as I left my car for my four mile run, I wore my new rain jacket
thinking about the severe weather I had endured in the mountains a few months
before.
As I approached the trail I mumbled something to God about the possibility of
rain: let it rain, God. Together, we're strong.

Before the hour was over, the jacket wouldn't make much difference, but the
commitment to be a survivor helped me make just the right moves. Through my
commitment to be calm God probably saved my life.

The first two miles of my run were uneventful. I wasn't in a hurry, so I was
clipping along at about six miles per hour. At the end of the second mile, I
made a
u-turn to begin working my way back to the car. As soon as I turned around,
a gentle rain began to fall. I pulled my hood over my head and kept going.
Thank you, Lord, I continued in my fixation, for my new rain jacket.

After several minutes, however, the sky began to look ominous, and it began to
hail.
I kept running, but I noticed that nobody else was anywhere near the greenway.
I was on the most popular part of the trail all alone. Being alone gave me an
eerie feeling -did everyone else know something that I didn't know?

The hail continued to fall, but the hailstones were not that large, maybe the
size of dimes. I was surprised that it didn't hurt when the hail hit my body. I
can run in this, I thought.

When the lightning started, however, I grew cautious. The first few lightning
strikes were a mile or two away (I counted the time between the flash and the
sound). Within a minute or two, however, the lightning was right overhead. I
was in trouble,
and I knew it.

I had been thinking about survival in extreme circumstances every day for two
months. Here is my first test, I thought. Lightning may strike near me, but I
can beat it if
I position myself in the right place. I'm going to get a real test of my new
survival skills,
I thought. Okay, Lord, let's test my commitment. I was actually pumped.

The first mile marker on the Stones River Greenway lies directly behind
Thompson Lane-a heavily traveled road in Murfreesboro lined with
businesses,
offices, an auto garage, gas stations, and apartments. The parking lots of two
of these businesses, the
Greenway Office Building and the Stampede Saloon look down on
the trail, which is about 15 feet below, but separated by a jumble of trees and
bushes.
From the trail to the river is another 10 foot drop off, also separated by a
jumble of
trees and bushes. If it weren't for the trees, you could probably throw a rock
into the
river from the parking lots above.

Across the river is an established neighborhood on a rise of another 20 feet or
so.
The houses in this neighborhood are some distance from the river, and separated

by tall, majestic trees.

When the lightning began to strike overhead, I left the trail and climbed down
the bank
to within a few feet of the river, crouching beneath some bushes. I was careful
to keep
my feet together and plant my hands on the ground, so as to create a circuit in
the event that lightning struck near me. I was actually feeling pretty smart,
and I was confident
that the storm would blow over in a couple minutes, leaving me feeling good
about my survival instincts. I thanked God for keeping me calm. I remember
watching a stream of water trickle down the side of the bank, creating tiny
waterfalls over the leaves and mud before finally reaching the river. I remember
being proud that my jacket was keeping the water out. No big deal, I thought.
I'm going to be fine.

Suddenly, after four or five minutes, the rain and hail stopped. It was odd-the
rain didn't slow down; it just stopped, all of the sudden. After ten minutes of
lightning,
of rain, of wind and hail, the silence was disturbing. But, hey, I thought, at
least the storm was over and I could continue running. I stood up to climb back
onto the trail.

When I stood up, however, something didn't seem right. To this moment I cannot
say
what I felt, but I knew in my gut that something was wrong. I don't remember if
the wind
was blowing, and I don't remember much of what the sky looked like. Actually, I
couldn't see much of the sky. I could see the trail, which was about eye level,
and I could see the wooded slope leading up to the parking lots, but I couldn't
see the horizon beyond that.
In the distance I heard a low rumble.

The L&N railroad runs pretty close to the greenway at mile one, but my gut
told me
that the rumble I heard was not a train. It sounded like a train … I mean
just like a train,
but somehow I knew that it wasn't. So I stood there for a minute, maybe even
more, listening and hoping the rumble wouldn't get louder. But it did. It got
much louder.

At this point, I feel like I should confess that I was terrified, but the truth
is that I
wasn't really scared. Events were unfolding too quickly for me to feel much
fear.
Besides, I had been talking to God for forty minutes about my ability to survive
in any circumstance. So, rather than fear, I felt this adrenaline rush and this
intense sense of challenge-my survival skills are going to be tested, I
thought. This will be good for me.

I actually felt some bizarre sense of appreciation that God was going to allow
my
faith to be tested in an extreme way. I know it sounds crazy, but all I could
think of was
how I wanted to pay close attention to what happened next so I could learn more
about survival to pass on to my church. I was thinking that after I survived, I
would be able to share what I learned with others, and maybe help someone else
survive.

Don't get me wrong- I was not thinking about glory or fame. Rather, I was
thinking
that this disaster would give me a great testimony about the power of God as
well
as giving me lessons on survival that I could share with others. I was thinking
that I
could write about the story and share it with other backpackers to help them
develop survival skills.

Ever the preacher, I was thinking that I could use my experience in sermons to
encourage Christians to face cancer, loss, or even death with trust. God will
take
care of me, I said to myself. I can survive. And I really believed it. I think
I nervously
giggled at the strangeness of the situation. I never once thought of death.

The rumble was very loud by now, and I heard cars honking, metal screeching,
and transformers exploding. Dude, I said jokingly to myself, you're in a
tornado. This is even bigger than Backpacker Magazine. You're gonna be on Oprah.
It sounds flippant now,
but at the time, humor was my way of staying in control of my emotions, and it
worked.

Panic is the number one killer in survival situations. Presence of mind, a
sense of
purpose, and even humor are often the very elements that determine who will
live
and who will die in the midst of a disaster. By talking to God, by looking for
a lesson
to be shared with others, and by kidding myself, I was able to stay calm and to
act
smart. By the grace of God, staying calm and acting smart probably kept me
alive.

When I heard the transformers exploding, I had five seconds to decide what to
do.
I quickly looked around at the options. Bunches of trees, the river, a small
dock built
by the park service jutting out into the water. Nothing else. The nearest tree
of size
was a few feet away. I quickly wrapped my arms around it at the base, laid on
the
ground, curled my body around the trunk, and looked up to monitor the
situation.
I asked God to forgive me of my sins, then, mumbled something like "let's
get it on!"

Within two seconds I saw the first pieces of debris flying over me. They were
topping the trees above the trail, coming from the direction of the parking
lots. I was impressed by how much debris there was and how fast it was traveling.
It looked
like it had been shot from a canon.

Then I heard the cracking of wood; not a little bit, but the sound of an entire
forest being split at once. It is not a sound that you can ever forget-wood
from a whole forest violently exploding. If you can imagine ten thousand
baseball bats being wildly broken at the same time, you will know what I heard.

I checked my grip on the tree, and thought to myself, "Here she is!"

Immediately afterwards, I saw the wall of the tornado top the crest of the slope
and slam into me. The sound was amazing, and the power incredible. Everything
around me, including the ground, was shaking. I could feel my tree groaning as
it was trying to leave the ground. The whole forest heaved. Debris was crashing
all around me. Static electricity made my hair stand on end. I saw what
appeared to be a house fly right
over my head, past the river and off into the wild.

Though I had curled myself around the tree, the tornado picked up my legs and
extended my body into the wind. I suppose my adrenaline was working properly,
because I never lost grip of the tree, even though my body was now off the
ground
flapping in the wind like a flag. I never thought I'd lose my grip; I was
determined that
I would not fail this test. I wanted to make God proud of me. I kept thinking
that I
needed to document the experience in my mind so I could help others. I never
closed my eyes.

The front wall of the tornado was bad, but when it passed, I found myself in
the
strangest world I've ever seen. I was in the eye of the tornado, and I knew it.

I dropped back to the ground and instinctively curled around the tree again.
A lot of debris was still shooting across the river, firing across my line of
sight like
meteors. But now I also saw debris spiraling inside the vortex of the tornado.
Close to me, it was traveling at lightning speed, racing around and around just
like you'd expect.

But farther up, along the inside of the funnel, the debris was moving slowly,
gracefully, almost playfully at the top. It wasn't circling; it was dancing, up
and
down more than from side to side. I don't know how far up I could see, but it
seemed
like miles. A strange light illuminated the inside of the tornado. It was
totally surreal.
It was peaceful, calm, and, I hate to say it, incredibly happy. I fancied that
angels were performing a ballet just for me at the top of heaven's ladder.

So this is what's inside a tornado, I remember thinking. It is not possible to
describe the feelings you get in the eye of a tornado. There is such a mixture
of primal feelings-blood pulsing, mouth drying, eyes focused, heart racing,
muscles taut. Everything that
has been you, in my case for 48 years, comes down to one infinite point and
freezes;
your breathing calms and your mind seems to step out of your body and look
around in amazement. You notice the smallest details: a leaf blowing past, a
small sound, the
strange illumination inside the vortex. You watch the inside of the funnel as
though you were watching a movie. There's a strange sense of detachment.

And you feel, at the same time, both all alone and totally immersed in the love
of God.
I mean that literally. In the eye of the storm, there is no one else, and as
far as you
can tell, the entire world is now gone. Nothing looks familiar, and you sense
that
you have already died and gone to heaven. The peace, the beauty, and the
overwhelming view up the vortex above all lead you to feel an intimacy with
God.

I felt loved in the eye, and even now that feeling moves me to tears. It's like
going
to heaven and seeing the book of Revelation. It's like waking up in
Alice's
Wonderland, Deep Space, and your mother's womb all wrapped into one. There is
no yesterday, no tomorrow, and no worries. Just peace, calm and incredible
beauty. In the eye of the
storm, you may not even be you any more.

To be in the eye of the tornado is unforgettable. I want to say to anyone who
has lost a loved one to a tornado that, chances are, your loved one died far
more peacefully
than you think. Inside the storm the love of God is more intense than you can
ever, ever, ever imagine. It is calm, peaceful, and overwhelmingly safe. Your
loved one died in the loving arms of God, and I guarantee you that they knew
it.

Being in the eye makes you thankful to God, and I remember murmuring some
words of gratitude, at least in my heart, if not with my mouth. I was thankful
for
the three seconds-or was it an eternity?-that I spent in the eye of that storm.
Grateful, that is, until the back wall of the tornado hit me. The front of the
tornado had been violent, but the back was even worse. Best I can tell, the
front
of the tornado had picked up trees and broken off large branches. Now the back
of the tornado began to drop them all around me. Debris was slamming
everywhere.

Though I had been in the tornado only 10 seconds or so, it already seemed like
a
long time. The peaceful feeling quickly dissipated; now I had to ride out the
worst.
I remember thinking, "almost over; hang on; you're going to make it!"

Meanwhile, stuff was dropping all around me. Two trees fell on me; I saw the
first one coming. I remember thinking it was odd because it fell backwards away
from the river. Most of the debris was flying across the river. The trunk was
robably 5 or 6 inches in diameter, and it landed on my left leg, just above my
ankle
(which was curled up behind my bottom). I saw it hit me, but didn't feel
anything.
I think I was too pumped. Immediately afterwards, a second tree fell on me from
above.
I didn't see this tree coming. When it landed, it was on top of my body, and
must have hit my head, since later I would discover a deep gash above my left
ear. I didn't feel any pain.

Then, just as quickly as I saw the tornado come over the rise, I saw it cross
the
river and leave. The back of it looked almost like a curtain; it was distinct.
You could
see where it began and where it ended. I remember as it crossed the river water
danced upward, like a million little dancing fountains in
Las Vegas. I
watched the tornado
move up the opposite bank into the trees and towards the neighborhood behind
the woods. Then it was gone.

For me, the storm was over. I lay there a little while to make sure that there
was
no residual debris following it. I couldn't see much because of the trees on
top of me,
but I just kept thinking "I survived! I'm a survivor! We did it,
God!" I remember giggling
and saying thank you to God over and over again.

As soon as I knew the storm was gone for sure, I wanted off the greenway fast.
To get off, I had to climb out of the trees that were on top of me. It only
took a moment.

But, when my head emerged from the top of the downed trees, I stopped in my
tracks. There before me, where only 30 seconds before had been a beautiful
woods,
lay the remains of a nuclear explosion. You've heard it before, but until you
see the destruction caused by a tornado, there simply are no words to describe
the view.

Everything was destroyed. The trees were twisted, mauled, tangled over the
ground.
Huge sheets of metal were wrapped around many of them. Two by fours with
jagged nails were lying everywhere. Entire sections of buildings, roofs, glass,
twisted pieces of who-knows-what were everywhere. I gulped and realized that
this was serious. Very serious. If anyone else was in this storm, I realized,
they were probably dead.
From what I could see, I assumed that the entire city of
Murfreesboro
had been
wiped out. My heart sank.

I couldn't walk on the trail, either to the left or to the right, as the debris
was
piled ten or fifteen feet high. So I climbed through the debris up the slope
towards the parking lots I knew were above me. It took only a few minutes (I
was really,
really motivated to get off that trail).

When my head emerged above the slope, all I could see was devastation.
A three story office building to my left had lost the top floor and half of
the second. Directly in front of me a pile of trailers was stacked 20 or 30
feet tall in
a twisted, smoking pile of angry destruction. Live wires and cables were everywhere,

as were trees, broken telephone poles, and tons of debris.

My first instinct was to run to the office building to check for survivors. I
assumed
that if anyone had been in the building, they were probably dead. It is hard to

describe how bad it looked. As I began to walk, however, I stumbled. I didn't
realize
that I had been hurt. My left leg was beat up badly, and the gash on my head
was
bleeding. I was wearing a white headband, and though I hadn't seen any blood,
it was filling with blood (as well as mud from the storm).

Circling in the parking lot were four immigrant workers. I don't know why they
were there; I assumed that they had been landscaping nearby and ran over to
check the same building I wanted to check. When they saw me, their faces grew
white.
I could tell by the looks on their faces that I must have looked bad, though,
again,
I didn't feel any pain. One of them ran towards me, and as I took a step
towards him,
I fell. I think I was in a mild form of shock, though I never lost my
awareness.
He picked me up, threw my arm over his shoulder, and carried me towards a
couple of pickup trucks that were pulling up at that moment. I asked him his
name, but we
were both in such shock that Ican't remember if he even answered.

"We've got to go to that building and check for survivors." That's
all I could say
as several men gathered in the parking lot. One of them was a rescue squad
responder, who was putting on a firefighter's uniform as quickly as possible.
"I'm going in
with you," I yelled out. "No, sir, you are going to the Emergency
Room. You are hurt."
We argued for a few seconds, as he continued to put on his uniform. Finally he
put his hand on my chest, as if to threaten me, and yelled. "You're
injured and you're
going to the Emergency Room right now. End of story."

A couple of guys from a landscaping business had pulled up in their truck.
Turning to these guys, he asked them if they would take me to the ER. "Of
course,"one said. "Get in the back of the truck," he ordered me.
I must still have been pretty
disoriented, because I stumbled around trying to figure out what he meant by
"back of the truck." I fell again, though I couldn't figure out why I
kept stumbling.

The truck had a double cab, and they put me in the back seat. As we hurried off

towards the local hospital, we turned onto
Haynes Drive, a heavily traveled
road
dissecting one of
Murfreesboro's largest clusters of neighborhoods, including my own.

We got a couple miles before we saw debris on Haynes-terrible debris. Trees
were
down, huge chunks of houses were scattered across the road, telephone poles
snapped in two. It looked horrible. Only later would I find out that a
beautiful young
woman and her nine week old baby had just been killed on
Haynes Drive only
a
moment after the tornado had shaken me.
Haynes
Drive
was completely
blocked by mounds of wreckage. We had to find another route to the hospital.

We drove around for a few minutes trying to find a way to get through the
neighborhood
to the other side of town, where the hospital is located. The men who were
driving me
to the hospital were anxiously trying to call their family members, but most of
the cell towers were jammed. We only managed to get a few calls through.
Because my wife and kids ere, unbeknownst to me, crouching in the back of a
grocery store seeking shelter from the same tornado, which they saw from only a
few yards away, they were unable to answer their phones. For thirty minutes, we
were out of contact, but I wrongly
assumed that they were safe far on the other side of town, so I wasn't worried
about them. I only wanted to tell them where I was so they wouldn't worry about
me.

Later I found out that they were all praying for me. Incredibly, my thirteen
year old son, Jonathan, was anxiously pacing the floor of the store while a
tornado was directly
over his head, praying over and over again that God would save me. What others
would call "luck" in my survival, I credit to their prayers.

It took some time, but eventually my new found friends pulled up to the ER. I
opened the door of the truck and fell out again onto the pavement. During the
truck ride, my head
had begun to hurt a little, but I still couldn't figure out why I kept
stumbling. I remember a handful of emergency personnel at the entrance of the
ER; several picked me up and
put me into a wheelchair. When they wheeled me in, a lineup of ER staff members

stared at me with wide-opened eyes. They had already been told to expect the
worst,
and I was their first patient.

It wasn't until they rushed me back to a cubicle and removed my clothing that I
realized why everyone looked at me in amazement, as well as why I kept
stumbling.
My white headband was bright red, soaked in blood. My clothing had blood all
over it.
Soon the sheets on the hospital bed would have mud and blood on them. The gash
in my head was pretty bad; all the way to the skull, and requiring 7 or 8
staples to stop the bleeding.

My leg looked awful-bloody, cut up, and quickly swelling to a large size. Oh, I
thought, this is why I keep falling. I had a concussion and my leg was badly
bruised,
but I knew in my heart that I was okay. I knew that God had saved me; that I
had lived through they eye of a tornado, that two months of prayers about trust
had been
answered in a massive way. Odd, but I felt euphoric; I couldn't stop laughing.
The morphine and the hydrocodone only made me more animated. I joked with the
ER staff, who seemed more stressed than I was (they weren't on morphine).

I tried to encourage them to wheel me over to the side and prepare for an
onslaught of seriously wounded people, but they were too professional and too
kind to do that.
Every one of them was super nice to me. Two different women, both named
Jennifer,
were especially kind to me; I remember thinking that Jennifer was going to be
one of
my new favorite words. I felt as though we were all in this together. I know I
must have talked their heads off. All I could say, over and over again, was
"I survived a tornado.
Can you believe it? I was in the eye of a tornado. And I survived!"

I went home from the hospital with dear friends, who prepared dinner for me
while my family went to see if we still had a house. Incredibly, our house
didn't have a single shred of damage or debris, even though scores of houses
all around us were
hit by the storm. By
eight o'clock I was home with my family. We had no electricity,
but we had all survived. God is awesome, we agreed, before saying goodbye to
the
wildest day of our lives.

The Good Friday tornado was one of the worst storms ever to strike
Murfreesboro. To this date, no one is even sure how many tornados touched down
in
Murfreesboro. Were there two? Even three? The tornado that caught me cut a 23
mile
path through
Rutherford County, sometimes as wide as half a mile. Experts estimate
that the tornado measured four on the Fuchita scale (an "F-4"
tornado) when it
passed over me; that's a "Devastating Tornado packing winds between 210
and
260 miles per hour" according to the National Weather Service.

Over 800 businesses and homes were damaged by the tornado, scores of them
completely destroyed. Fifty-one persons were treated for injuries, some severe.
Two precious people lost their lives. I suffered a concussion and a beat up
leg. Thirty eight million dollars worth of damage was inflicted on our
community.

But Tennesseans have a knack for bouncing back. The very next day, literally
hundreds upon hundreds of people roamed the neighborhoods with chainsaws,
shovels, food and water, helping neighbors clean up. A hundred-fifty people
from my church gathered at
8:00 a.m. and spent the day helping their neighbors. To date,
there has not been a single incident of vandalism. Instead, everyone is pulling
together
to help each other out. Our community has come together. We're going to be
okay.

Easter Sunday, 2009, was one of the prettiest Sundays I've ever seen. The
weather was cool, the sun was beautiful, and the sky was perfect blue. It was
an Easter unlike any
other in my life.

I had already planned to talk about the Resurrection, but now I had felt it.
God raised me on Good Friday.

Our church had 2,307 in attendance, shattering our old attendance record.
Across
the stage we had over a hundred lilies, looking a lot like angels in front of
the empty
tomb. And there I was, hobbling onto the platform with my brother ministers,
surrounded by the white heralds of spring, proclaiming that, no matter how dark

the storm may seem, Christ is Risen!

David M. Young
Pulpit Minister at
North Blvd. Church of Christ
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
April 14, 2009

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