- (Photo: Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Facebook)
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team revealed that 11 people have turned their lives to Christ following another tornado tragedy in Oklahoma, which on Wednesday officials said has claimed the lives of 20 people.
"God sheltered them, then He saved them," said Michael Glassey, an RRT crisis-trained chaplain from Riverside, Calif.
The U.S. was rocked by a number of tornado outbreaks in May, first in Texas that left six people dead, and then in Oklahoma two weeks ago where the death count reached 24, followed by yet another that hit the Oklahoma City area on May 31 and caused 20 deaths.
The RRT, which sent out relief groups, including chaplains, to the disaster-hit areas to offer physical and spiritual support to those affected by the storms, says that one positive thing from the tragedy is that at least 11 people have said that they will turn their lives to Christ.
"I asked each one separately if they wanted to receive Christ as their personal Savior so that if this ever happened again they would have the assurance of going to Heaven, and that they could also experience a new beginning that very moment," Glassey said of a group of survivors who had found refuge in the midst of the storm at Emmaus Baptist Church, the local base of operation for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains and Samaritan's Purse.
"They all said, 'yes,' and each received Christ into their hearts," he revealed.
The response team explain that in the late afternoon on May 31, a slow-moving cluster of supercell thunderstorms in central and northern Oklahoma spawned five tornadoes. Although not as powerful as the ones that hit two weeks ago, the new outbreak triggered heavy flooding in the area, causing hundreds of residents to flee to Emmaus Baptist Church.
Huddled inside a safe area underneath the sanctuary, with the church having lost electricity, many of the residents turned to their faith as they waited for the storm to pass.
"In the dark, people prayed, sang songs and quoted favorite Scripture verses. Many called family members at home, expressing their love and telling them they were safe. Some received text messages that they were being prayed for," the RTT reported. "At least 200 people made it safely inside the church, where they huddled under tables in classrooms, as a tornado touched down about a mile or a mile and a half away."
Mike Booth, senior pastor of Emmaus Baptist Church, said, "Emmaus Church had been designated as the lighthouse church for the Samaritan's Purse command post, and even though we lost our electricity, we were still the shining beacon in the dark for people to come running to."