Monday, November 7, 2011

5.6 Earthquake Rocks Oklahoma

SPARKS, Okla. (AP) - Clouds of dust belched from the corners of almost every room in Joe Reneau's house as the biggest earthquake in Oklahoma history rocked the two-story building.

A roar that sounded like a jumbo jet filled the air, and Reneau's red-brick chimney collapsed and fell into the roof above the living room. By the time the shaking stopped, a pantry worth of food had been strewn across the kitchen and shards of glass and pottery covered the floor.

"It was like WHAM!" said Reneau, 75, gesturing with swipes of his arms. "I thought in my mind the house would stand, but then again, maybe not."

The magnitude 5.6 earthquake and its aftershocks still had residents rattled Sunday. No injuries were reported, and aside from a buckled highway and the collapse of a tower on the St. Gregory's University administration building, neither was any major damage. But the weekend earthquakes were among the strongest yet in a state that has seen a dramatic, unexplained increase in seismic activity.

Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year until 2009. Then the number spiked, and 1,047 quakes shook the state last year, prompting researchers to install seismographs in the area. Still, most of the earthquakes have been small.

Saturday night's big one sent Jesse Richards' wife running outside because she thought their home was going to collapse. The earthquake centered near their home in Sparks, 44 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, could be felt throughout the state and in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, northern Texas and some parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. Richards estimated it lasted for as much as a minute. One of his wife's cookie jars fell on the floor and shattered, and pictures hanging in their living room were knocked askew.

"We've been here 18 years, and it's getting to be a regular occurrence," said Richards, 50. But, he added, "I hope I never get used to them."

Geologists now believe a magnitude 4.7 earthquake Saturday morning was a foreshock to the bigger one that followed that night. They recorded 10 aftershocks by midmorning Sunday and expected more. Two of the aftershocks, at 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., were big, magnitude 4.0.

"We will definitely continue to see aftershocks, as we've already seen aftershocks from this one," said Paul Earle, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. "We will see aftershocks in the days and weeks to come, possibly even months."

Scientists say they have no explanation for the quakes. They happened along an ancient fault, although it's not clear yet whether shifting along the fault is what caused them, Earle said. One reason earthquakes are hard to predict in Oklahoma is that the state sits over a series of smaller ancient faults, rather than a major fault, such as California's San Andreas Fault, he said.

Read More from My Way News

Food Ministries Adapting To The Economic Down Turn

Unemployment is on everyone’s mind these days. The effects of joblessness on families and communities can be grave. Church-based ministries have been there to help in times of need, especially when it comes to food. But as unemployment numbers rise, more and more ministries across the nation are changing their approach to meet the growing population in their communities that need food.

Beverly Howard, executive director of Loaves & Fishes in Charlotte, N.C., told The Christian Post Friday that the economy had definitely affected her organization.

“Giving is down, food drives are down, and the need is up,” she said.

Loaves & Fishes provides groceries to individuals and families in short-term crisis through a network of 19 food pantries in Charlotte's Mecklenburg County.

This year, especially, they feel the economic strain because unemployment in Mecklenburg County is higher than the national average. Howard said you can see the direct impact of the economy by looking at the money spent on groceries within the organization. In September of last year, Loaves & Fishes spent $48,000 in food purchases. This year, in September, the cost almost doubled with expenses coming to $83,000.

Loaves & Fishes works with local churches and recently opened a new pantry to meet more needs. They are also looking at converting their operations to a “client choice” method. Howard said this model has proven to save money, wastes less food and lets clients choose what they want. But for now, Howard said, they are going to have to “do more of the same, with less resources.”

Delilah Roseborough, community development coordinator for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, echoed Howard’s story. Her organization has warehouses that supply food and groceries to agencies and churches in Charlotte. She said, this year, they have seen “an increase in people who are in need.” A year ago the effects were less apparent, but now “donations are down, it’s an effort to get people to do fun drives,” Roseborough said.

Charlotte isn’t the only place where food ministries are struggling. Farther north, in Gloucester, Va., the Bread For Life Community Food Pantry is working hard to provide for those in the area. The food pantry gives families a bag of bread, produce, meat and, what Executive Director Bob Quinzel calls a “bag du jour.” The bag contains non-perishable items, like pasta or cereal.

As unemployment rates continue rising, Quinzel said he is seeing the numbers go up at the food pantry. A year ago during a week in October they served 66 families, on the same week a year later, they served 187 families.

Further south, in Georgia, One Harvest Food Ministries is filling the empty space Angel Food Ministries left behind. It is set to begin operations in the southeast this month, and is looking to expand nationwide by spring 2012. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Doug Metcalfe said Friday there is definitely a place for food pantries in society, and especially in this time of economic downturn. But he also said food vendors don’t have the surplus of food they used to.

“Food pantries used to be able to get 1000 pounds of food per month, [but now] it’s not out there, they are having to figure out what to do,” said Metcalfe.

Read More From The Christian Post

Evangelist Billy Graham Turns 93

For the Rev. Billy Graham, America's most famous evangelist across a career that lasted some six decades, the prospect of old age and death was for a long time something he tried not to think about, despite his convictions about the eternity that awaits human beings.

"I fought growing old in every way," Graham, who turns 93 on Monday, writes in the newly-published "Nearing Home," a book that ranges from Scripture quotations about the end of life to brass tacks advice on financial planning. "I faithfully exercised and was careful to pace myself as I began to feel the grasp of Old Man Time. This was not a transition that I welcomed, and I began to dread what I knew would follow."

Graham's book, his 30th, comes not only as he reaches another year, but as America's huge Baby Boom generation moves into old age, its senior members now eligible for Social Security and retirement. And although in recent years Graham has stepped away from active public ministry, his willingness to be frank about the trials as well as the pleasures of growing old may still have an effect on the millions of Americans whose lives coincided with his time as the country's most famous preacher.

"I find that, talking to students and a lot of younger people, many of them don't know who Billy Graham is," said William Martin, author of "A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story" and a professor at Rice University. "But the people who will be most interested in this are older, and they do remember and adore Billy Graham."

Graham has said he wants to preach one last sermon before he dies, and while the new book is not quite that, it has a similar set of themes. Pondering Bible passages on aging and death, exhorting his readers to make sensible changes in their lives ("Take full advantage of your company's retirement plan, and borrow from it only in an extreme emergency") in down-to-earth language, Graham's ultimate focus is always on Jesus Christ.

"We were not meant for this world alone," he writes. "We were meant for Heaven, our final home."

All together, it's a set of advice that youth-fixated Boomers might not be immediately eager to hear, but coming from Graham it may have more influence. After all, Graham first rose to national prominence with a huge Los Angeles revival in 1949, just as the first Boomers were old enough to notice. Swiftly, Graham -- who at the time was just 31 years old -- became virtually synonymous with American Protestant Christianity, leading massive crusades at sports stadiums, traveling the globe, and meeting with presidents from Eisenhower to Obama.

Graham's appeal has not only been durable, it's extended far beyond the world of evangelical Christianity, according to Grant Wacker, a professor at the Duke University Divinity School, who's working on a biography of the evangelist.