The half-mile-wide tornado caused incredible grief and devastation. Residents were confronted with shock and disbelief when they found the wreckage of homes and businesses.
As the victims seek hope and comfort, the RRT chaplains are demonstrating the compassion of Jesus Christ with gentleness and respect in their time of loss.
Chaplains also deployed to Poplar Bluff, Missouri, on January 29 in response to ice storms and remained there through Sunday, February 15.
An additional team deployed to Madisonville, Kentucky, where power is only recently returning to homes that have been without electricity since an ice storm came through on January 27.
Heart Stories from the Field
RRT chaplains heard from Pastor Bill Vail that his mother was not feeling well. Bill pastors the church where they and the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers were staying in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
A few days later, the chaplains visited her in an assisted living facility in Poplar Bluff. At 88, Mary is a well-spoken, elegant woman, and she was so pleased that the chaplains had come to see her. Her husband of 69 years had passed away less than a month before. She told them that she had woken up the morning of their visit feeling a little discouraged, and that they had sure brightened her day!
Mary loves the Lord, and she is rightfully proud of her son. He is a pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in Poplar Bluff.
Pastor Bill is Mary’s only child, after she had lost two other children at birth. Mary told the chaplains how she had met Billy Graham when she was expecting her son Bill. She and her husband had gone into a drug store in Dallas, Texas, and her husband saw Dr. Graham in the back of the store. He knew that Dr. Graham was in town for a speaking engagement, and he went right over and introduced himself.
When Dr. Graham met Mary, he said, “Well, I see that you are expecting!” After a short conversation, Dr. Graham prayed with them for a safe arrival and that the baby would grow up to be a mighty warrior for God’s Kingdom!
After prayer, Dr. Graham said that he needed to be on his way to meet his wife who was expecting him. Mary went on to tell the chaplains that later, when her son Bill was in college, he had the privilege of introducing Dr. Graham at a speaking engagement in Jackson, Mississippi.
After hearing that story, the chaplains attested to the fact that God had indeed answered Dr. Graham’s prayer for that baby boy. Pastor Vail has grown up to be a pastor of great capacity to speak God’s truth in Christ.
He and his congregation have been such a gracious host to the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and Samaritan’s Purse during their deployment following the ice storm in Poplar Bluff. The chaplains prayed with Mary and left her with hugs and a few books by Billy Graham.