A quick update before I start rambling – Angelica and the girls finally moved out of the parsonage at Angel Falls Baptist. She stayed there almost a whole year after I got caught.
Which is great for her, I guess.
We actually get along wonderfully. People ask me frequently how we get along. “Great,”...
I’m available for just about any kind of interview. If you have any interest in the epidemic of pastors falling in our world, please check out my interview page and contact me. I have several of my interviews listed there.
The link is here for the full program, but I’m in the second hour, starting around the 65 minute mark. Hope you’ll check it out. You can click the link to listen online or go to iTunes and download the May 7th version of the show.
They were amazing in their allowing me to share my story, the hope of the gospel, and the future of the church.
My blog typically focuses on stories about fallen pastors and how they can be helped. Overall, it’s theme is to point to the glory of God. Today, I’d like to start occasionally letting others share their stories of how God helped, rescued, or redeemed them. Today’s story is a unique one and it concerns a friend of mine. I hope you enjoy it.
Almost a year ago on Leap Day, 2012, a series of strong storms ripped through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In all, there were 15 fatalities and almost $500 million in damages. The scene was horrific as families were left without homes, businesses were destroyed and lives were lost.
It had begun on the evening of the 28th as it swept through the west and destroyed places in Branson, Missouri and leveled Harrisburg, Illinois. The storm wasn’t done as it kept moving eastward.
Stevie Joe Vaught was sitting in his trailer in Greenville, Kentucky on the morning of the 29th and got a call from a friend at 7:30 in the morning telling him that tornado warnings were popping up in the area. In the friendly community of Greenville, people take care of each other like that. Even when sirens are going off, neighbors tend to make calls to friends and family.
Stevie Joe said to himself, “Okay, I’d better watch the weather.” He did. He kept looking out at the ominous clouds outside as they passed, but nothing serious seemed to be materializing. He knew that if something did, he’d have time to go a few yards away to his sister’s house and take shelter in the basement.
At 8:45, the warnings were cancelled and he said, “they said everything was all clear. So I turned on Sportscenter and laid on the couch.”
But everything was not all clear. A year later, he can describe the details as if they happened yesterday. He can do it because he dreams about them almost every night:
About five minutes later I heard the scariest train you ever heard in your life. So I jumped up and looked out the window and there was just all kinds of debris outside spinning around and I thought, “Oh no.”
I took two steps, I was going to pick up my dogs so we could get in the closet and I took that second step and my trailer just lifted off the ground and just started rolling. I was inside it for about 40 or 50 yards.
I was up in the air.
Right before I got to where I ended up at, while I was spinning, it was like a warm blanket wrapped around me and held me tight. And I now know it was the good Lord wrapping me up and He sat me down outside on the ground right beside my stove.
I sat leaned up against it and I watched the rest of my trailer go about another 30 yards, what was left of it, and hit this big tree. When it hit this tree, what was left of it just exploded. Then it just picked up the frame of my trailer up, laid it down beside the tree and it was gone.
It felt like it took two hours, but I know it wasn’t in the air probably two seconds.
His first thought was, “Are my dogs okay?” They were. Dizzy and confused, he stood up and started yelling, walking towards his sister’s house. Everything was in shambles. The house next door had some damage and his sister’s house had significant damage.
The news crews showed up. People who knew Stevie Joe and the kindhearted guy he is were touched by the interview. It was aired on CNN and even those who didn’t know him were touched by his emotion.
He was overwhelmed with the love shown to him by the community, churches and people he didn’t even know. “It just showed me how good a community I actually lived in.”
I asked him what life was like for the next few weeks:
I was just in shock. I didn’t have anything. I lost everything. Spiritually, I got stronger because I knew why I was alive was because of the Lord.
How did people react to his saying that it was God who saved him?
Some of them didn’t believe it or didn’t believe that’s what I felt or what I saw. Some of them said God had something planned for me and that’s why He kept me alive. And even some of the ones who said they believed me you could just see it in their eyes that they were doubtful. But I know what happened and that’s all that matters.
Why did he think some people, even Christians, had such a hard time believing it was God who delivered him?
Why do you think people have such a hard time believing it? They have doubt in their beliefs, whether God really exists or not, whether He’s really out there. To me, I know He is. He proved it to me that day.
I would say they have trouble believing that He exists because of things that happen in their lives. They might say, “Why would he let something like that happen to me?” or they just don’t believe in a greater being.
I had to ask, “You know you’re not supposed to survive a tornado in a trailer. So you’ve obviously thought, ‘Why me?’ Which is a strange question. Usually, we’re asking the opposite question when something bad happens to us. But you’re asking, ‘Why me?’ when you survived a serious event. Do you have an answer?
No, none whatsoever. I guess he’ll show it to me when he gets ready. The only thing I know right now is that I’m telling people my story. Hopefully I’m telling them in a way that they can believe it. I’m just trying to spread His word. Other than that, I don’t know what He’s got planned.
I asked him one final question: What has changed about you?
Not much has changed about me. God’s still the same, maybe I just see Him differently.
A great answer, I thought as we wrapped up our talk. Stevie Joe is still going through some serious PTSD, I think. He dreams about the tornado frequently. In some of those dreams, he sees his father who passed on a year before the tornado hit with him. He says his dad is right there with him saying, “You’re going to be alright Son. You’re going to be alright.”
The events that he went through are undeniable. He survived an amazing event and has chosen to give God the glory for his survival. He believes God has a purpose for him and most certainly, God does. More importantly, Stevie Joe Vaught sees God differently, and that may be the most important lesson learned.
Please keep Stevie Joe in your prayers. He’s always been a good friend to me at all times and is one of those people who would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it. And thanks be to our God who protected Stevie Joe in such a fragile moment.