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Baptist Beliefs: Tragedy and hope in Oklahoma

Soon, the news coverage of Moore will be gone. Caring people from out of state will return home, and even Oklahomans will return to their lives before they were so dramatically affected May 19 in Shawnee and May 20 in Moore. We are grateful for their every caring act.

People in Oklahoma and across our nation are asking “why” or attempting to explain the “why” of this terrible damage and loss of life caused by a mammoth tornado. Baptists do have a perspective on the why. However, our first response is much like many of our fellow citizens and other Christians, and that is to address the “what.” What do we do now?

By God’s gracious provision and direction, we have learned what to do, and we have a history sharing the ministry of alleviating suffering, rebuilding lives and restoring communities. We are surely not the only ones who do this, but we will be there doing all of those things when there is no more news coverage or a great deal of other assistance. The Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief ministry was on site within hours at 9/11, the Tsunami, Katrina, Haiti, New Jersey and many others.

As Oklahomans, we have some experience in the tragedy caused by tornadoes. We care about our fellow human beings, mourn with them in their sufferings and give thanks to God for His provision that we are able to share in times of disaster and tragedy.

We will be there for the long run with those who have suffered great loss. We live in these communities, and we will serve them as they are rebuilt.

We have done this amidst disasters in and outside of our state many times. It has been our privilege to help. We have learned, and continue to learn, “what” to do.

We seek to speak with both confidence and humility about the “why.”  We believe that God created all things from nothing, and His creation is good.

In Genesis 3, sin entered into God’s creation and it had a cosmic impact. Sin has devastating effects on human life and all creation.

We live, then, in a fallen world, where the daily provision of the good things from God’s creation, upon which we all depend, are received, along with earthquakes, hurricanes and, yes, tornadoes, to name some. We do not know “why” God has permitted these to occur in specific places, nor any specific reasons addressed to the specific communities.

“Why” they occur, we believe, is natural evil in a fallen creation.  Rom. 8:20-22 explains to us that creation will someday be set free from corruption, and that it is presently groaning until that moment.

We have experienced both the goodness and greatness of God, and our confidence is in Him. We cannot explain His every act in these cases of disaster.  To do so would be to overstep what He has revealed to us in the Bible.

We weep with those who have lost loved ones, especially these precious children, and we will help lay some of them to rest, seek to bring comfort, friendship, material provision and spiritual counsel to those who have suffered loss.

Our message is one of hope for the temporal future and for eternity. We seek to do this with our hands, our hearts, and our words.

It is our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord which propels us to provide, serve, love, and give counsel to those in this devastating tornado. We are concerned about today and tomorrow, but we are also concerned about eternity and the hope we share with our fellow human beings is the provision of eternal life in Him.

I am proud to be an Oklahoman, and grateful to be an Oklahoma Baptist serving alongside my fellow Oklahomans to bring hope in the midst of this tragedy.

 

Mark McClellan

Author: Mark McClellan

Mark McClellan is the Dean of the Hershel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry and professor of theology and missions at OBU.

View more articles by Mark McClellan.

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