In the weeks after tornadoes hit Shawnee, Okla., and the surrounding area, the city has increasingly taken on a Texan drawl.
TBM has flooded the area with disaster relief volunteers, especially chainsaw and heavy equipment teams that have removed fallen trees and limbs for nearly a month. They were accompanied by chaplains and a box unit early in the response.
The volunteers have served more than 2,300 hours since the April 19 storms hit with winds as high as 135 mph. The tornadoes damaged many homes as well as caused damage to Oklahoma Baptist University.
“God has shown up in a big way here in Oklahoma,” said Wendell Romans, who coordinates TBM chainsaw teams. “He brought Texas to Oklahoma! Texas has been able to do several jobs that otherwise would have gone undone. We have the tools and the knowledge to remove trees from homes that others had to pass up.”
Cutting trees and limbs helps people with the physical obstacles after the tornado. Visiting with them helps lift the stressful emotional burdens. People share what they went through. They often shed tears.
Emotions bubbled over when TBM volunteers met a woman who rode out the storm on her couch. And again when a man shared the story of his brother attempting suicide two years prior.
Each day, TBM volunteers have seen God open doors to allow them to minister. One day a man lift broke, putting the team’s future work in jeopardy. But the lady they were serving said her son could fix it. They didn’t miss a day of work.
Weather also has been a challenge with rain falling off and on throughout the deployment. Still, the timing of the precipitation wasn’t an issue.
“Probably the biggest way we’ve seen God’s presence is in allowing us to work, even though there has been a lot of rain,” said Jerry Hall of Cedar Hill. “His timing has been perfect; rain at night, but it dries quickly.”
This year has been difficult for Oklahomans who have suffered repeatedly from tornadoes and wildfires. TBM volunteers have stepped up to deliver help, hope and healing.
“Our ministry in Oklahoma has been a powerful testimony of our teams’ willingness to help our neighbors," said David Wells, TBM Disaster Relief director. "One team from Amarillo has deployed on three different deployments there this year. When needs arise, God has called us to respond in His name. That’s exactly what has happened in Oklahoma.”