Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Final Tornado post

Soon they told all of us in White Hall to move to the PAC. We stayed together as the group we had formed in White Hall (which also happened to be a group of close friends). As we walked over we saw many blown over tress and broken windows, but the sights were much less unnerving than the other buildings we saw and the blood covered students. When we entered the PAC, another makeshift nursing station was set up. As we proceeded down the hall, they informed us we would be staying at different faculty members’ homes, so Becca called her parents and told them we wanted to stay there. We again had to sign a sheet and put our cell phone number down and they told us to sit and wait. Knowing that the Poes were going to pick us up, we moved closer to the Chapel where they were loading cars full of people to send them away for the night. Tyler and Bob went to find their car (which they drove in from their house off campus). When we were waiting by the Chapel, we heard a voice call out for Becca Poe; somehow, Josh had found her among 1200 other students. Danielle was also able to find her sister. As we were waiting, a group going to Humboldt came by, at which point Sarah gave me my computer and Kyle Jones's also. We made it out to the Poe's and called home and watched the news. We also used my laptop to get on wi-fi, and people were able to facebook it up and use email. We had some coffee and had a prayer time which was great and helped us deal with some of the stress, shock, awe, and horror. I called my parents, and no knowing if I would be able to get into my room or if my car was ok, told/asked them to drive down the next morning and pick me up. When we were sitting around, Amanda Johnson called and asked if any of us knew how to contact Kevin Bradley's parents. Mrs. Poe knew Mrs. Bradley, and using what she knew of them and facebook and the White pages online, we were able to find their phone number. We then went to sleep, or tried to, five guys downstairs (we lost Bob) and around 10 or 11 girls upstairs (we lost Kirby). When we got up, we had pancakes (because Becca's sister Mary Ellen wanted them), and it sounded good to all of us. We walked around and got kicked off of campus, and then tried to enjoy ourselves until we were able to get back on campus (well, only Kyle, Austin, and I were able to get on campus), and we got our stuff and our cars and went back to the Poe's. On campus, we were given five minutes to pack our rooms with whatever we could carry. Soon after getting back, my parents came and picked me up. It was a miraculous show of God's providence and mercy that everyone is ok. As Dr. David S. Dockery said, "Out of the rubble comes renewal." Union and its leadership have done a great job in leading after this disaster, and as Sen. Corker said, we have inspired the nation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some friends

Some friends inspire me to holiness more than others.
It doesn't hurt when they follow Mark 5.19:

And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

It does hurt when they are far away.

Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away. (Proverbs 27.10)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tornado, Pt. 4 of 5

I was in a state of shock because of what I had seen and heard. I wouldn't say I was scared, the three of us trusted God, but I was worried both about students and classrooms and everybody's stuff. When we felt the pressure change in the bathroom and heard the glass break, I really was afraid, for everyone. I wasn't afraid of death, I was afraid of the process to get there and the pain and loss of all my stuff. But the worst feeling was helplessness. Everything was out of my hands. I couldn't do anything to change or help the situation at all. I always want to fix things and make things better, but I couldn't. That was the worst feeling for me. When we started off to White Hall, we had to follow what we could see of the road. To get to the road we had to duck under and step over two different sets of power lines (potentially live), which was a little nerve-wracking. When we got to the road, it was like an Exodus. People everywhere, following the only lights we saw and following each other. Borrowing Kyle's cell phone, I finally reached my parents and let them know I was fine. They were relieved and I soon had to get off the phone. As we walked, all of us were in shock, and yet another sight awaited us. The back of Jennings Hall's roof was ripped almost completely off. This made me really sad, because the Ryan Center was right beneath it. When we walked into White Hall, they had a makeshift nursing station in the front hallways. They were patching people up pretty well, and nursing students and local nurses were rushing around trying to take care of everyone. As we began to walk down the hall, they had us sign a sheet and put our contact number on it. We also soon saw Becca, Bevin, and Betty. Kristmar would soon show up, as would Danielle, T-Glo, and Bob. We stayed together in White Hall and ran into many of our close friends and were of course relieved. Becca was very quickly asking if we had seen her new boyfriend Josh Hays (Mr. 1600). We hadn't but reassured her that he would be alright.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tornado, Pt. 3 of 5 (I think)

There seemed to be a gasp as every individual saw Hurt, with the ends of the buildings collapsing. As we were walking, a National Guardsman with a chainsaw approached the guys he saw walking and told us that eight guys were trapped in Watters, and asked us to come help. I handed my computer to Sarah and we started off to Watters. Katie Kulow and Sarah asked us frantically where they were supposed to go, and we told them to keep moving and go to the PAC. When we were walking to Watters, we began to see even more of the damage. When we looked to ward Hurt, all we saw was rubble. We slogged through the mud and were quite tempted to run. The guardsman told us to conserve our energy, we would need it and there was no telling how long we would be out there. As we walked up to Watters we could see the end of the Commons building by the light of numerous emergency response vehicles. It looked as if that end had been burned and stripped and then we saw the truth, that there was only about 10 feet left of the building still standing, the rest was in a pile of rubble. We followed the guardsman over some rubble to near where a firefighter was trying to get a guy out from under the rubble. The guardsman told us to wait for something to do, so Kyle, Austin, a few others and I waited. We heard a voice from under the rubble of Watters Commons. I was later told it was probably Matt Taylor (which he later confirmed), yelling "Get me out of here!" His voice had a blood curdling tone and was full of fear. The firefighter calling for an airbag and telling him to "stay calm, we're getting you out, you will be ok." We were standing there, some emergency personnel telling us to wait to help lift people out, others telling us to get to White Hall. We kept standing there for a few minutes in the midst of the chaos until they started yelling for all students to go to White Hall while someone else yelled that there were enough emergency workers there already and they didn't need anymore help. So Austin, Kyle, and I decided we would head over to White Hall as they told us to, though we wished they had let us stay and help.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tornado Pt. 2

They described the sight: glass everywhere, stuff from near the door scattered everywhere inside. John left the bathroom and told us to stay there and nobody leave for any reason. We were still sitting in the dark checking up on the weather online (Wi-fi was still working somehow) and someone (I think Matt Reeves) was talking to his dad about the weather coming through and the damage that already occurred when we heard someone in the commons yell "Courtney! Courtney!" Hearing the name of his fiance, J-Mo flipped and ran out the door fearing that Courtney (Nute) was injured from being in the main room of the Commons. He returned to the bathroom and was calming down and told us they were just calling to her because she was a nursing student. He said a guy and a girl (who we later learned were not Union students) came into the Commons from a car. Jonathan said she was so cut up and bloody in her face that she was unrecognizable. We again started praying aloud. In the next few minutes we heard a lot of yelling as Ashley Jackson (Residence Director) and the RAs herded girls from one of the buildings (Grey? maybe) into the stairwells because there was a gas leak. With a lot of yelling they got them in there. At some point in the time that followed and ambulance arrived for the bloody girl. We were still sitting in the dark bathroom and John and J-Mo reported on how bad things were. Flipped cars were the main report so far, and they were saying it was worse than the reports we got about 2002. We sent out text messages to our family and emails as we could to try and let our parents know we were all right, but AT&T was not working real well at all. Some amount of time after the tornado they began to yell to all of us in the Commons that we needed to head toward the Pennick Academic Complex (PAC). We still hadn't seen anything first hand. As I stepped out of the bathroom all I noticed was that the commons had stuff everywhere, most notably Ashley Jackson's business cards, which had flown everywhere. We went out of the Commons toward the courtyard. I set down my notebook on the copier as we walked out. I honestly don't remember if there was a door as we walked out. The sight that met us was much worse than any of us had expected. It was dark, so we couldn't see well, but our eyes had already adjusted from being in the bathroom with no power. We saw Grey and Dodd when we first walked out, and we could see pretty clearly that the walls had fallen off the sides of the buildings. As we walked further we could see through windows that some sections of roof were completely missing. We could see parts of buildings in which only the frame was left. It looked like a set to a natural disaster movie, but it was real. It was all so real. As we walked toward the PAC, Sarah Simpson joined Austin and I walking. All the girls began to cry as we walked over the rubble in McAfee. The sights that would soon greet us were much worse. When we exited the courtyard we could see, backdropped by the dark sky, trees which were split in half. As we walked further we saw a pile of cars, with a red Celica sticking up above the rest. My only response to this was "Holy crap." We walked out to the road and found cars sitting in the middle as well as trees littering the walkways. Then we saw Hurt.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer: A Biography impressed me from the start. I was skeptical coming in because I had heard negative reviews of Metaxas’ Amazing Grace, mainly that it was overly academic sounding while attempting to be a popular level biography. I had not read Amazing Grace, and my only experience with Metaxas was when he came to Union University and spoke in chapel, which frankly, the only thing I remember is that he came. On of my professors at Union, Greg Thornbury, is a good friend of Metaxas and spoke highly of him, but more importantly, over the years I have greatly enjoyed history of World War II Europe and have come to appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer greatly.

Coming in with my skepticism, I was immediately impressed, not only with readability but the high amount of detail woven into a single narrative. Metaxas weaves together personal accounts to show the character of the family and of Dietrich himself from a young age, showing his vivaciousness and sensitivity to both God and to others. He was always a servant to others, putting everyone else before himself. While this was in many ways simply his moral compass, he knew from an early age that he would study theology, and persevered even through opposition from his overly rationalistic family. He maintained his character throughout his life, even through the hardest of ethical choices during Hitler’s rule over Germany. I'll let you read the rest yourself. This is a great book that paints a great picture of such a hero of the faith.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tornado, Pt. 1

At 7:02 PM on February 5, 2008, Union University was hit by an F4 tornado. I’ve decided to post my recollections of it, being over two years out, and some reflections based on them. The actual account of the event is as accurate as any account from me could ever be, as I wrote it from February 7-9 of that year. The divisions are completely arbitrary, and just seem like good points to stop, so that this would be given in multiple parts. There are a lot of names, just to warn you. Scripture quotations are new reflections

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. Psalm 24.1-2

The weather was odd that week. It was February, which is normally supposed to be cold, but I suppose that in the south the winter is always more of a variable. There had been warm days and cold days cycling that week. It was only the fifth day we were back in school for the spring semester, and all non-weather issues seemed pretty normal. With all the changing weather, on that day, February 5th, 2008, the weather men projected a huge cold front would come through, ending our pre-spring spring. We heard that there was bad weather coming because of the cold front, but that didn't surprise us.

We have had tornado warnings in the past, but never had much trouble, just had to sit in bathrooms with each other. Having gone running in the early afternoon (well, around 3:00), I took a shower, a pretty long one, and then ate dinner with my roommate Matt Kuchem. We cleaned up and I headed down to the commons to work on some various classwork. I went to my usual spot and got out my Macbook while I talked with my good friends Kyle Clark and Austin Ward.

Soon after I got to the commons, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Jackson, TN. The resident advisors rushed for the McAfee sirens and rushed us into bathrooms. I left my backpack in the chair, but took the notebook I was using and my laptop into the bathroom and we all "settled in" for a while. We still were jovial and unconcerned. Austin and I were in the stall and I was finishing typing up some notes, and every few minutes I was checking the weather updates.

Things were ok when the power went out. We still were unconcerned because because again, this had happened before. We even lost power for a few hours one night in the fall when a car ran into a utility pole. We all groaned but were relieved to find that the Wi-fi was still working. We started checking the weather more frequently but were still unconcerned.

A few minutes in, a couple of us used the bathroom but nothing seemed to be happening with the weather. A few minutes went by when we felt the air pressure change in our ears. No one thought anything of it until a second later when Matt Kuchem said, "Did anyone else feel that pressure change?" When Kuchem said that, we all basically dove for corners of the bathroom. Some of us heard a low roar, not really like a train, and a few seconds in we heard the glass shatter, and we knew it was bad. A minute after the noise subsided, some of the guys, I think John Henson or Jonathan Moore (J-Mo), looked out into the Commons and simply said, “Wow."

5God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
6For to the snow he says, 'Fall on the earth,'
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. Job 37.5-13

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Called to worship

Called to Worship by Vernon M. Whaley, is a good book on worship that bridges both academia and the broader church. Whaley, who is the director of the Center for Worship at Liberty University, gives a biblical theology of worship, tracing both the “worship wars” throughout Judeo-Christian history and positive biblical responses to God, providing, as the subtitle declares, “biblical foundations of our response to God’s call.” Whaley has a biblical point of view that all people share this purpose in life, to worship God, and, as Tozer said, “If we do not honor this purpose, our lives will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits.”

While overall the book is good, it fits into a small niche. It can be helpful to worship leaders and pastors to give a better understanding about worship as the bible portrays it, but doesn’t bridge gaps well beyond themes and principles. It seems more theoretical with little practical advice on how one can proceed with worship to follow through with these principles. Yes, this does lay a foundation and gives a framework for thought, and it does a good job at that, but there is great need for practical helps on how to proceed in our “call to worship,” both individually and corporately.