Its hard to imagine when you go through a homecoming parade experience which has always been by design, so family oriented, like the one at Oklahoma State University was yesterday, ending in an unspeakable national tragedy. This afternoon, I am writing our blog from the alter at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Stillwater where John Dickey, the Senior Pastor for many years has led. This morning was different because we held a service of remembrance and mourning for the four who so far, have been pronounced dead and the four dozen others who have been wounded. We are praying for the families even now.
NBC Nightly News came this morning to cover the service and the memorial remembrance of yesterday and John and his family were powerful in their words, sadness and more. It was my honor to be the guest speaker and I preached on the POWER OF PRAYER to the congregation and they covered the service of remembrance to a community riddled in pain once again. The reporters even shared after the service that the four candles lit in remembrance of those who died along with the entire church family on their knees at the front of the alter arrested their hearts in so many ways.
Names of those who were stricken were read aloud as the people bowed in prayer today asking for hope. The crash on one of the largest intersections of Stillwater had created literally a war zone in a matter of moments for the families who were celebrating a beautiful weekend as the Oklahoma State Cowboys were only a short time from playing football. This was a homecoming celebration totally now shocked by what happened. What we know is that a woman who was obviously "challenged" drove in a high speed fashion into a crowd killing and wounding many people. We even prayed for her this morning.
At Oklahoma University, my Alma Mater South flew the OSU flag high in recognition of the pain being experienced just an hour away. Churches and people groups gathered on Sunday to remember in prayer the hurting families as we all were so arrested by the national news reporting the event moment after it had happened. So few times in our lives, does time stop and its always when there is something as traffic as this.
I shared an important word about how tragedy can turn into triumph and the key is to focus on God, His love, His grace and His forgiveness. Because of living through a stroke, I have seen miracles happen and we sure need one now. The scripture reminded us BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN, FOR THEY WILL BE COMFORTED and today, we needed comfort, assurance and hope.
People began to help others in need yesterday, Pastor John in a few moments showed up to the crash site and began ministering to family members. The church at Hillcrest is located almost in the shadow of the Boone Pickens Stadium. The congregation began to reach out, people began to carry survivors in the back of pick up trucks to the hospital because there were so many who needed medical attention.
Tragically, Dr. Stone and his wife, professors at OSU were killed. It was over eleven years ago they personally recruited one of the professors who was in the service this morning. The news reporters interviewed him and he talked about his pain and loss, something he new all too well. At lunch today John shared about his past and how this gracious man lost his child when they were eight years old from a drowning accident as he has certainly faced death in a real personal way too.
So many tragedies come into our lives and we often wonder why. Sometimes, we even blame God and become angry, want to give up or maybe worse. This can be so devastating emotionally, physically and spiritually when we succumb to the negations which can often surround us like a vortex. We have to remember God and God alone understands our hurt and pain. Think about what Jesus went through, his suffering, his beatings, his tortured body, the emotional terror and finally, the horrible execution of a cruel cross. He endured an elongated debilitating death and the disciples gave up through the process.
Jesus three days later arose from the grave. He turned the tragedy into triumph. He extended his powers to all of us who follow Him and changed the world. Let us remember when tragedy strikes, to go into our War Rooms of prayer and communicate to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whom we need comfort and find peace during times like these.
There are no words to say, but what we can do...is be available to those in need and pray. Take a place of holy intercession where others require a helping hand.
When you have a "call" to minister and to reach out to others, remember to "heed the call" and go when you are called to go. Do what has been prompted in the Spirit to do and just watch and see what God will do. He is a God who cares, who is interactive and will listen to the pain of each one of us. Obedience is a hallmark of our faithful hearts and we need those cornerstones in all of our lives.
Go Pokes, remember the sunset last night and how beautiful the orange was in the sky. Remember there is a world who IS praying for you and we will not forget. From the tragedies OSU has had to endure from plane crashes and more, we are with you, our hearts and prayers are closer than you know. May the Lord give you strength and remember you are, STILLWATER STRONG in CHRIST!
In His Love,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.