Oklahoma tornado survivor Barbara Garcia touched the hearts of many when her on-camera interview with a news network was interrupted by the discovery of her mini schnauzer, whom she thought had been lost in the tornado that had leveled her home and those of her neighbors. Now, Internet users are rallying together to try to pay for a new home for Garcia and her dog.
"Well I thought God just answered one prayer to let me be okay. He answered both of them, because this was my second prayer," Garcia told CBS News correspondent Anna Werner as she coddled her "poor little" schnauzer, who was discovered pinned under the wreckage directly behind the elderly woman.
Garcia had been explaining how she and the dog, Bazzie, had taken refuge in the bathroom when the powerful tornado smashed through their neighborhood in Moore, Okla., on Monday. While she got knocked around but remained conscious, Garcia found that she was alone once she emerged from the pile of sticks that minutes before had been her home — her mini schnauzer was nowhere to be found. Or so Garcia thought. more >>
After some harsh online criticism, Christian author and college chancellor John Piper deleted two tweets quoting scripture from the Book of Job in the Bible posted late Monday evening, the same day that a devastating tornado flattened an Oklahoma City suburb, resulting in at least 24 deaths.
"The reason I pulled my tweets from Job is that it became clear that what I feel as comfort was not affecting others the same," Piper was quoted as saying to members of Desiring God, a ministry he founded. His explanation was posted in a blog by Desiring God content strategist Tony Reinke.
"When tragedy strikes my life, I find it stabilizing and hope-giving to see the stories of the sheer factuality of other's losses, especially when they endured them the way Job did. Job really grieved. He really agonized. He collapsed to the ground. He wept. He shaved his head. This was, in my mind, a pattern of what must surely happen in Oklahoma. I thought it would help. But when I saw how so many were not experiencing it that way, I took them down," said Piper, who recently retired as lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn. more >>
[Updated 10:45 am, May 21: An earlier version said at least 91 people were dead, but an updated report in The New York Times says that spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner Amy Elliot's figures that at least 51 people were dead and 40 more bodies were being delivered is "no longer accurate." The confirmed death toll is 24.]
As darkness fell on the tornado-ripped community of Moore, Okla., and the severely damaged areas surrounding Oklahoma City on Monday, at least 24 people, including children, were confirmed dead as the search for survivors continued. Many undamaged and secure structures, such as churches, served as emergency shelters for those whose homes were destroyed as the result of the 200 mph winds. Government-funded disaster relief teams were joined by faith-based organizations, some already mobilized from previous disaster efforts, for immediate action.
A frantic search for students, teachers and staff at the flattened Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, which was in the storm's direct path, continued into Tuesday morning. Reports indicate that 75 third-graders were believed to have been huddled when the tornado struck, with seven now confirmed dead, a number of students showing up alive at a nearby church, and many still missing. more >>
The iconic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile recently made a stop at a South Dakota church and took part in a local charity supported by the congregation.
Asbury United Methodist Church of Sioux Falls got to have the Wienermobile parked in its lot, with the church's Mission Committee grilling hot dogs and serving "Tropical Sno" shaved ice. Kip Roozen, pastor at Asbury UMC, told The Christian Post that the Wienermobile visit on Sunday was "an awesome, fun experience."
"It really felt like a community event rather than a 'church' event. There were people of all ages – children, youth, young couples, families, middle aged, elderly," said Roozen. more >>
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has been deployed to Granbury, Texas, after a series of tornadoes ripped through hundreds of homes on Wednesday night and left six people dead with more than 100 injured.
"It's always so difficult for survivors to comprehend the tragedy of a tornado, because everything happens so fast," said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, in a statement. "You wake up in the morning with all of your plans before you, and by the time you go to bed at night your entire world has changed and everything you once knew has been destroyed. Please pray for those who lost everything in this series of tornadoes, and especially for the loved ones of the victims."
WASHINGTON – The U.S. government program that helps treat and prevent AIDS in foreign countries is threatened by budget cuts, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Tuesday. He urged faith-based organizations to increase their efforts at rallying support for the program.
"You're going to have to up your game because pressures exist today unlike any time in politics," Graham said at a Washington, D.C., event co-hosted by a number of organizations that have worked together to fight AIDS around the world, including World Relief, World Vision, Pan African Christian AIDS Network, UNICEF, and the United Methodist Church.
Politicians find foreign aid an easy target for budget cuts, Graham explained, because most Americans believe foreign aid comprises a significant part, as much as 25 percent, of the budget. In reality, though, foreign aid is only about one percent of the budget and not the cause of the nation's budget woes. For this reason, Graham believes it is important for faith groups to let their congressional representatives know they will stand behind them, or "provide a safety net," if they do not cut foreign aid programs to fight AIDS. more >>