Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Preaching in Moore: Faith That Stands Up to the Storm Read more:

Churches across Moore, Okla., have transformed into disaster relief centers this week — the area is, after all, about as Bible Belt as America gets. The city website lists over 80 churches, and nearly a third are Baptist. Church after church has turned sanctuary into donation drop-off site, and lobby into insurance filing center or food bank. This Sunday, pastors are offering another type of assistance, one intended to feed the soul: preaching.
Pastor Ted Miller of Crossroads Church has led his 1,500-member church for only one year, and this is his first time pastoring a community though a tragedy of such magnitude. While none of his immediate church members lost their lives, all have walked through the valley of the shadow of death this week. Many families had children at Plaza Towers Elementary and faced the traumatic reality of little ones missing. Thirty-two families in his congregation suffered total or significant property loss.
Miller’s main Sunday message is to remind parishioners that the tornado’s May 20 destruction was not God’s judgment. Equating natural destruction with God’s plan can be a dangerous theological path to tread — God is not mad, he says, but rather the opposite is true. God comforts people in the midst of their grief. “God is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear though the Earth should change and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” he says, quoting Psalm 46. Miller also points to the New Testament book of Romans, in which the Apostle Paul tells of the Earth’s groanings. “The earth groans, weather patterns change, they come and go with climate changes,” Miller explains. “A natural disaster and an act of God are not the same thing.”

2 years after Joplin tornado, survivor ministers in Moore

MOORE, Okla. (BP) -- Gary Hunley had seen it all before. As he surveyed the damage left behind from last Monday's EF5 tornado in Moore, Okla., he saw an all-too-familiar scene of overturned cars, metal signposts bent to the ground and houses reduced to rubble.

Almost two years to the day before the historic Moore tornado, Hunley's home was destroyed by an equally historic tornado in Joplin, Mo., which killed 158 people. Since then Hunley, the leader on his Spring River Baptist Association Disaster Relief team, has participated in numerous Southern Baptist Disaster Relief responses. Yet because of the amount of damage in Moore, the latest assignment has brought back a variety of memories.

"I understand it," Hunley said. "I saw it yesterday for the first time. It was like Joplin -- the scene, the smell, the look on people's faces. Some are trying to be uplifting and act like everything is okay. They're hiding it though; I can see it on their face. I feel so sorry for them."