Small Town in Lone Star State Recovering from Deadly Tornado

By   •   April 29, 2020

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is sharing the love of Jesus with the small community of Onalaska, Texas, after an EF-3 tornado ripped through Polk County last week, killing three people and injuring at least 30.
Since the twister hit, residents have been recovering both emotionally and physically. Chaplains offer a listening ear as locals share stories of how their lives were turned upside down in mere minutes. One elderly woman (not pictured) told chaplains her cancer had returned. She believed faith was all about good works, but the chaplains told her about God's grace through Jesus. Her eyes were opened to the beauty of the Gospel and she prayed for salvation, saying, "Now I have Jesus full in my heart."
Nearly 100 miles north of Houston and on an arm of Lake Livingston, two crisis-trained chaplains take in Polk County's destruction—170 homes were destroyed and another 300 were damaged.
The team deployed alongside Samaritan's Purse, whose volunteers are repairing residents' homes. A chaplain was talking with parents (not pictured) about the story of the Good Samaritan when the father interrupted to send his wife to go get their daughter. "She needs to hear this," he said. She joined the conversation, and the chaplain shared how Samaritan's Purse serves complete strangers, just as the Good Samaritan did. The conversation ensued and the family said they didn't know where they'd go if they died. The chaplain offered to tell them the Bible's answer to this, and they agreed. After learning how they could have peace with God, they each prayed and placed their faith in Jesus.
While this storm caused mass wreckage, residents are facing another storm with the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Rapid Response Team and Samaritan's Purse are strictly adhering to CDC guidelines for safety purposes. >> Are you worried about the coronavirus? Call the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Prayer Line at 888-388-2683.
The week before a twister shredded neighborhoods in Texas, another massive storm system spewed dozens of tornadoes throughout the South and killed 36 people. The Rapid Response Team and Samaritan's Purse grabbed their masks and deployed to Seneca, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Monroe, Louisiana; and Laurel, Mississippi. The deployment in Texas marks the first time chaplains have ministered in five states at one time due to tornadoes. >> Watch how a former drug dealer chose to rededicate his life to Christ after surviving a South Carolina tornado.
An emotional homeowner who barely escaped the twister tells chaplains how she often listens to the Billy Graham Crusade DVDs her husband gave her. "They got the alert on their phones, ran to the back of the house and [an 80-foot tall] tree came crashing in and missed them," chaplain coordinator Kater Zemke said. The couple is clinging to their hope in Jesus as they recover. >> Are you able to trust God through hardship? Start a relationship with Him today.
As chaplains minister to residents daily, your prayers are needed. "Join us in praying for those who have lost so much and are devastated," said Franklin Graham, the president of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse.