Tornado! [By Rick Perrin]

May 24, 2013
Rick Perrin

Some may ask, “Why did God--if he is a good God--permit the tornado to plow through Moore, Oklahoma on May 20?"  Not James Moody.   He has another view.

Moody told a national TV interviewer, “I’m a Christian.  By the grace of God we are alive.  I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for sparing us.”  Here’s the story:

At about 3:00 PM Central time, James’ employer told him to go home.  The tornado was descending on the area where he lived.  James set out in his car and followed the tornado’s path.  As he got closer to home the seventeen mile long swath of devastation grew worse.

The tornado was a worst case Category 5, spinning winds at two hundred miles an hour.  Houses and businesses had been wiped from the face of the earth.  Shattered piles of wreckage bore grotesque testimony to what a few minutes before had been a thriving community.

James’ anxiety escalated as he drew closer.  Frantically he dialed his wife’s cell phone.  No answer.  Then a text message came: “All gone.”  Then nothing.  James and his wife and three children, 10, 8, and 6, lived across from the Plaza Towers Elementary School. 

He left his car a half mile away and began to walk and run.  “Oh, God.  Oh, God.”

As he came in sight of the rubble that used to be his house, he spied his wife and children huddled in the driveway.  He ran to them.  They hugged one another.  Tears flowed.

Around them nothing was left.  The school where his kids had been only a few minutes before, was leveled.  Some children and teachers were still in the building—a couple dozen of them.  When the warning sirens sounded the teachers herded the children to the designated safe area, a hallway bordered with sturdy masonry walls.  Now it was buried.  Nine of the children died there.

James and his family stood for a moment and surveyed the destruction.  Then they joined those pulling away wood and bricks, and searched for others who might be trapped.  Later they sorted through the remnants of their own home.  They found some pictures and some of the children’s toys.  Nothing else.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” 

James Moody and his family understand one further thing that the psalmist wrote--that they are loved by God, and that they live within “the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her.”  The psalmist said, “She shall not be moved.  God will help her when morning dawns.” 

Do you know where God is?  Do you know where to find his unmovable place of safety and refuge when disaster strikes?  Jesus said, “I am the way.” (John 14:6)  Be sure you can find the storm shelter in time.

Dr. Rick Perrin is Chairman of the Board of WRF and senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Cherry Hill NJ.  He writes a weekly blog called ReTHINK which may be accessed at He may be contacted at


prayer victims Oklahoma tornado James Moody Jesus shelter