Our Town

We’re the Church - this is our town. Not long after the tornado struck Moore, the city was visited by a number of organizations and ministries from all over the nation. All of them were amazed and intrigued by the organization of Serve Moore’s leadership and the mobilization of the seemingly endless waves of volunteers.

Truth in Action, a ministry that stresses the importance of churches being relevant to their communities - especially during difficult times - visited Moore to experience first-hand how the local Church has mobilized to serve the community.

“What we want to do as the church is show people that we serve a God of unity, love, and care,” Chris Fox, student minister at Moore Community Church, told Truth in Action, “and that’s the God who is chasing after them.”

Sean Evans, lead pastor of Frontline Church South and one of the many church leaders who have been on the ground since the storm pummelled Moore, agreed with Fox’s sentiment in his interview with Truth in Action. When organizations like Red Cross, Americorps, and FEMA popped up at the volunteer headquarters for Serve Moore expressing awe and wondering “who/what is Serve Moore?” Sean’s response was a consistent, “We’re the Church. This is our town.”

We love these responses! God is good. He loves people. Our job - our one thing we can give back after receiving the ultimate gift of freedom from sin through Christ’s sacrifice - is to love Him and love others. Serve Moore is part of the loving others. It’s not just a favorite pastime, it’s a responsibility.

Read about Truth in Action’s visit to Moore and watch the video to see for yourself how unity among community churches can make a greater impact than many churches operating separately can do.

Grace and Hail

This is reposted with permission from The Austin Stone. Original post can be found here.

The destruction in Moore, OK is overwhelming, but so are the small moments of grace.

On May 20th, Andrew Burkhart was finishing up a meeting at a coffee shop when he realized that a severe tornado was bearing down on his town. He was immediately evacuated to a nearby home improvement store, and tried to get through to his wife on his phone. When they could communicate briefly, Andrew told Hilary where he was, and to follow the instructions from the weathermen on TV.

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Hilary watched the TV and waited. Even if she wanted to leave the house, she could not. Softball-sized hail pounded their neighborhood. One hailstone could hit their small child on the way out, or go through her window while driving. Leaving now was not an option, though their home would soon be destroyed.

At the same time, only blocks away, Jamie Fallwell was rushing to her backdoor to let in her husband, Matt. It was hailing hard, and getting worse. The chunks of ice were growing larger, and the tornado was dangerously close. Matt had seen it in his rearview mirror while racing home.

Jamie opened the door and asked, “How bad is it?”

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“It’s bad,” Matt said. The look on his face said more.

Matt came in the house and they started for the bathtub. They were not confident in their plan, but could not leave because of the storm. Then, the hail stopped.

At the same time, the weatherman on TV advised shelter for the Burkhart’s neighborhood. Hilary prepared to do so, but had a bad feeling. Then, the hail stopped.

Hilary saw the hail let up and clearly felt God tell her to run. She rushed to the car, put her child in, and tore down the road, putting as much space between her and the twister as possible.

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As the hail stopped at the Fallwell home, Jamie remembered seeing a storm cellar their neighbor’s backyard over the fence one day. She asked if they should head next door.

Matt immediately took their son in his arms and ran through the backdoor, with Jamie on his heels. They ran to their neighbor’s yard, and found the gate locked. Matt wrenched it open with his free hand. They ran to where the storm shelter should be, but did not see it.

In that moment there was real panic. Jamie doubted her memory. Was the shelter really here? Matt instantly regretted coming outside. Why had he led his family outside, with no guarantees, when the tornado was drawing near?

The only thing in the yard was a shed where they thought the storm cellar should be. Matt ran to the shed and pulled open the door. There, staring back at him in the middle of the floor was a door. The neighbor had built the shed on top of the shelter. Matt banged on the door and yelled down, “Is anyone in there?!”

A voice of rescue echoed back, “Yes! Come on down here!” The shelter door closed just moments before the tornado leveled their block.

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Once she drove clear of the storm, Hilary Burkhart headed to the store where her husband was sheltered. Minutes later, Hilary walked into the storm shelter, with her child safely in her arms. Andrew was shocked to see them. In that moment, he felt overwhelming relief. His heart leapt with praise for his Savior.

Written by The Austin Stone Story Team

Beauty in the midst

I’m sure you’ve all heard it said, as have I, that there is beauty in the midst of ugliness. I heard that statement this week and it seemed like an insincere declaration. An effort to force people to see the bright side of a day that began in darkness and ended the same way. And maybe that’s what we humans do to cope. We try to put a pretty bow on an abysmal monster to help soothe our souls. But there really is beauty that came as a result of Monday’s darkness. Maybe it wasn’t noticeable right away. But later. After the winds stopped battering the ground and the clouds ceased their oppressive hovering. After the sun exposed the worst of the destruction. It was then we were granted a hint of the loveliness that lives in the deepest recesses of the human capacity to see each other through disaster.

During the past week, we (I, along with so many others who have been scrambling to make sense of what seems completely senseless) have seen marvelous things. I’ve been struck speechless by the generosity of others. I’ve felt my mouth hang open in awe of the compassion that has been inspired in individuals all over the nation and around the world. I’ve been shamed by the strength of character I’ve witnessed in parents who lost everything “...except for what is most important.” I’ve been shamed more by parents who lost... everything.

There is beauty in the ugliness. Where there has been apathy, there is now a concern for others. Where there has been avoidance or ignorance, there is an unmistakable zeal to improve the welfare of a fellow human. This renewed sensibility might fade over the coming weeks as we grow farther from the horrors of this past Monday, but let’s pause to absorb it right now.

We’ve become aware of one another. And not just we as people, although that has happened, but also we as the Church. We, as the Body of Christ, have come together to effect healing in our cities - physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. And incredibly enough, no one is looking for personal credit. The common hope of all these churches laboring in this combined effort is to lift the heads of the downtrodden so they can look to Jesus.

Because He is the true beauty in the midst. He doesn’t minimize the pain of the storm or seek to distract us from it; He helps us through it by giving us something firm to grasp onto. He is Love, demonstrated through the ongoing and selfless service of His Church. His children.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Visit this site frequently over the coming days and weeks. We will be sharing stories that will inspire you, uplift you, and - we hope - turn your eyes to Christ. If you are part of the story, lift your eyes to the hills. The One who made the heaven and earth is your help.