When Sheila Taylor and her five children emerged from her neighbor’s over-crowded storm shelter, her neighborhood, including her own home, was gone.
Taylor, her husband, and children, members of Holy Cross, Oklahoma City, lived in the direct path of the May 20 EF5 tornado in Moore, Okla. Her inlaws, only a couple blocks away, lost their home too. She didn’t know where to go, but she wanted to get away from where she was. She walked with her kids for about a mile to escape the shards of wood and downed power lines.
Taylor says, “When I start to think about all the things my children have made for me and the Christmas ornaments I won’t be able to put on the tree— just those little special Mother’s Day gifts with their prints and pictures I’m never going to get to see again— those things start to bother me. The pictures of when my older children were babies, I don’t have those.” But, she says, “The Lord blessed us all because we’re all alive and we’re all together.”
Mike Poulin and his wife, also Holy Cross members, were at work when the sirens started to scream. After taking shelter in the oil change pit at the service center next door, they came out to discover their home totally wrecked. After arriving at his house, Poulin heard that the nearby Plaza Towers school was in trouble. He ran across the now leveled foundations to help. “I wasn’t even thinking; I just started tossing rubble,” he says. He was able to help two small children find their parents.
“If you don’t believe in God,” says Poulin, “after something like this, you will.” He says after knowing how big the tornado was and the path it left, it’s a miracle there wasn’t more loss of life than there was.
In the weeks since the storm, both the Taylor and Poulin families have found housing, albeit temporary. But nearly everything they owned was lost. These are just two of four families from Holy Cross who experienced this kind of devastation, not to mention the countless others in the community.
WELS Christian Aid and Relief already has sent $10,000 to Holy Cross to assist its members with immediate needs, and the congregation has come together to help each other sort through the rubble and begin getting on their feet again. “We’re all God’s family, and we’re there to support each other,” says Poulin.
To help with spiritual care, WLCFS Christian Family Solutions is sending two counselors to the area June 6-9 to offer Christian counseling to Holy Cross members.
Licensed Christian therapist Rev. John Schuetze says, “I see, especially in the early stages, the importance of educating people from a Christian perspective how to make sense of all of this and how to put it in perspective of our Christian faith.”
He continues, “It’s hard for us to feel safe after we’ve been through a traumatic event, whether it’s relational or whether it’s a natural disaster. And we also struggle with hope. I think those are two areas where the Christian faith provides answers that secular counseling can’t offer because we know that we are safe in the Lord. We can’t always see that, especially in the midst of a disaster, but we can go to his Word, and there he assures us he is our refuge and strength and that he is caring for us.”
There’s still a lot to do—not just for the Holy Cross members, but for the community. Christian Aid and Relief is working with WELS Kingdom Workers to organize volunteers who can help with clean-up in Moore and at the same time reach out to community members with Christ’s love and message of salvation.
If you would like volunteer or support Christian Aid and Relief’s work in Moore, visit www.wels.net/relief.