Here is my post from last year and my second day on site after the May 20 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.
Hope in Chaos and Death
Today was a totally different day.
Yesterday I wandered around in the dreary cold rain. I didn’t see many people around and about unless they were in uniform there to work. I spent time at Command Central but everyone was busy.
Today, I went to the Moore Cemetery. The call went out for the community to mobilize because we don’t want to bury people in a ruined cemetery. I know I saw over 1000 people who were there for over 5 hours (over 5000 man hours), and that’s what it took because it took everyone’s hands to pick up the debris that is everywhere. (Think about 5000 man hours for just one spot with no structural damage). Headstones were overturned. Stuff was everywhere. People were working like crazy. Everyone had a great attitude and knew what to do – clean this up. Estimates are that 2000 people showed up for the day.
It was inspiring. It was tremendous. In the midst of death, there was vigorous life. We were pushing back darkness.
I prayed with Deana, who was working on the spot where she had buried her husband three weeks ago. I prayed with Dawn, who came up from Frisco, Texas, and was concerned about what would happen for the special needs kids affected by the storm. I prayed with another family who buried their father a week ago, but couldn’t find the site.
Later, I walked back to the worst of the damage where I had been yesterday, the street where the news reporters have all set up to film the people who are working on their homes. I prayed with Sara. Sara’s house is destroyed, and she told me about how she road out the storm in her bathroom with her kids. She told me about her precious 9-year-old son, who she bragged about. She said, “I know God has a plan for me and my kids.” That’s right, Sara! That’s so true. We prayed together in tears.
We were cleaning up a spot so we can bury people, but it was and is a place of hope, courage and redemption. It’s awesome to see a city/nation/church pull together to help people. There will be even more to do tomorrow and the next day and the next day and for months and even years to come.
We’re working to restore this place. We love City Pres and what we’re doing here in downtown OKC. It’s great to worship together, and we’re gathering each week for those who want a new church here. But we’re also trying to be the church for all those who need and want a church but haven’t had one or have written us off. People in Oklahoma City don’t go to church. 85% of our city doesn’t go to church. We’re praying that we will be able to invite people to worship Jesus. We are following him and inviting others to follow him. He is the resurrection and the life. The gospel is real and true. It matters. God is with us. We’re praying, and helping, and inviting our city to follow with us and worship with us. We’re not trying to be Jesus, but we do want people to know and love him.