We were gone all day Monday so it was late that night before I finally sat down and (really) looked at pictures from Arkansas' tornado devastation and (really) read about it. It was mind-blowing. I could not wrap my mind around being stripped of EVERYTHING you own and being left with literally what's on your back. As I saw pictures and heard about family after family of whom this was the case, it became overwhelming. I wanted to help... but where to begin?
What hit home to me the most was reading an email sent out by Dennis Rainey, founder of FamilyLife (parent ministry of MomLife Today). He told the details about two precious FamilyLife families who had been hit hard.
The first was the Tittles and you've probably heard about them.
This precious family lost their dad, Rob (48), and two daughters, Tori (20) and Rebekah (14). Many of the other family members suffered broken bones.
The email read:
Rob and his wife Kerry had heard the tornado warnings and were shepherding their nine children under a stairwell when the tornado disintegrated their home. Rob was doing what a man does—putting his family first—when the twister hit.
The Tittle's home was completely wiped away, leaving nothing but the slab of concrete that was beneath it. But in the middle of this unspeakable tragedy, the family's 19-year-old daughter, Whitney, posted this on Facebook:
"This is Whitney from a friend’s house, my mom, and my six brothers/sisters are alright. We have lost three of our family … Dad, Tori and Rebekah, prayers would be appreciated. The house is gone stripped from the foundation. The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord."
Wow. Faith is tested in times of trial, and it's obvious this family's is real. Stories like this one challenge me so much... would my response be the same if my world was suddenly shattered? Would yours?
The storm then plowed into the small community of Mayflower, where another FamilyLife family huddled together in their closet/storm shelter. The mom in this family is Kristin Gaffney, one of the sweetest women I've ever met. She has served as the prayer director for MomLife Bootcamp the past two years, and when she prays, you feel God near. Through her honest and open words with God, her intimacy with Him is apparent. There is no one I'd rather hear pray.
As she, her husband Dan, their six children, two dogs, one bunny rabbit, and a lizard huddled together in the closet, Dan's thoughts were on things above. And as the seconds ticked by, he said to his children, “This is the day of salvation! If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT!”
A moment later, the tornado ripped into their home, wiping it away completely and leaving only the shelter, and thankfully the family, behind.
As I've told many people over the past couple of days, there is no ministry that I respect more than FamilyLife. Over the past few years I have met multiple families employed by the company, and all of them have a love for the Lord and a dedication to family that is unparalleled.
If you feel led to donate to either the Tittles or the Gaffneys, here is how you can do so.
Send a gift card to a major store (like Walmart or Target) via Tracey Eyster, (director of MomLife Today). Please designate your card to either the Tittle or Gaffney family.
C/O Tracey Eyster
P.O. Box 7111
Little Rock, AR
Both families' churches have also set up accounts online where you may give money directly.
Click here to give to the Tittles
Click here to give to the Gaffneys