Saturday, April 23, 2011

It can happen. And it did.

If you’re a local around StL, you’ve probably been watching the coverage all day. If you’re not around here, you might have heard a mention here or there.

The St. Louis metro area was beaten pretty badly by a very persistent tornado. There are still official reports to be made, but it appears to be one tornado, bolstered by some of the craziest and roughest storms full of hail the size of softballs and inches upon inches of rain.

The airport, Lambert-St. Louis International, was hit and is closed. That’s new. And strange. But more upsetting are the dozens of houses all the way through the area, in a line West to East, damaged severely. Many, people are displaced from their homes today.

People in the city always seem to think that these storms don’t happen in the suburban and urban areas. It’s always in the rural areas. It’s always somewhere just outside of our area. It can’t happen IN the metro.

But it did. Over and over and over. (Link to many photos.)

We’re ok. No damage to us or our house. And we are very grateful. We spent a good while in the basement last night, but our property was not affected. Unless you count the lake of standing water in our backyard…and the water leaking into our basement through the wall on the back of the house. But that’s nothing compared to hundreds of families in the area.

Thankfully, and miraculously, no one has been reported with any major injuries. Amazing.

I watched the coverage last night for a while, and when I woke early this morning, I turned it back on. A few minutes into the news reports and helicopter footage, they go to another area of the destruction and show several houses that are damaged along with a larger building that looked very bad. As the helicopter zoomed in a bit, it was clear that the bigger building was a church. The trusses over the auditorium were still standing, but there was nothing attached to them. The pews were all visible, the stage and the baptistry.

And then I stopped and hit the rewind button on my remote. The stage and the baptistry. I know them. Well. Then I hear the announcer say where they are. Near Washington-Elizabeth. Oh my goodness. That’s my church. Not where I currently attend, but that’s where I went for some of my college time in the North County area, and I also went there while I lived in the area again a few years after graduation. It’s about 10 miles from where we live now.

I just stared. The stage is very unique, it was clearly Ferguson Christian Church. The helicopter camera zoomed out again, and I recognized the shape of the building and the location near the corner. I couldn’t believe it.

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I used to lead worship there. I played the piano in there when I was early and needed to just play a bit. I stood on that stage many times. It was my home church for a few years. It was a place I belonged for that period of my life. I had great friends there, and I still know several who attend there. The preaching minister is married to one of my good friends from college. The chairman of the elders and his family were very close when I was there before. I housesat for them, and their kids were my friends. The children’s minister and her husband went to college with me. Her father was one of my professors, and he’s an elder there, too. All those people were in the building when this happened. In this auditorium. Until just 2 tiny minutes before this happened.

And now it’s just walls. The classroom part of the building is less damaged, judging from the aerial view, but the auditorium is just walls. It is very surreal.

There were people in that auditorium just moments before the tornado hit. Thanks to a text message notifying of the pending twister that had done damage just west of them, they were able to get everyone downstairs and safe.

Amazing. What a blessing. And yes, even in the midst of such sad news, I know the people there are so thankful that no one was hurt and they are feeling blessed. They know that their church is not that building. They know the Lord and his people will provide what they need. But of course, it’s so sad to see the building destroyed. (Video clip here.)

Please remember them in your prayers, as well as all the many others affected by these storms last night. It’s going to be a very different Resurrection Sunday at FCC this year.

5 comments:

  1. We had a tornado hit near where we live last week.It's pretty scary weather.
    So glad to hear that the people in the church were able to get to safety.Sorry for the loss of the building.I will be remembering them in prayer.

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  2. It's quite something alright. We've been checking on our family/friends in the Stl area today. Glad to hear you all are ok too. Amazing stuff. Glad God is bigger than all that!

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  3. I am so glad you are all OK. I've told you several times how much I enjoyed my time in St. Louis several years ago, and your city and your neighbors will be in my thoughts.

    Back in 1993, an arsonist burned our church down. It was heartbreaking. In so many ways it is just a building, but in so many other ways it is a part of your heart.

    They rebuilt our church. Bigger, better, and even more full of spirit.

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  4. Glad everyone is okay. We lived a tornado a few years ago. It took out houses and roofs and buildings within a mile from our house but we were untouched. It's humbling to suffer little when others suffer much.

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  5. Thanks for the link and the post. I am Jim, the volunteer webmaster for the church and I was in the basement when the tornado hit. Come see the church's Facebook page for more pictures.

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