Remember number stories from grade school math? This number story might drive a math teacher crazy, but it makes sense in the classroom of God’s grace:
1 F5 tornado 163 lives – 8,000 homes + 1 widow + 2 men + $156,000 divided by 21 Western Illinois communities 400 miles away + over 40 laborers x (y x 800 mile round trips) = 1 beautiful new home + countless changed lives.
I had the privilege of interviewing and writing an article about this amazing story. It took one widow’s faith plus two men willing to venture into the unseen for God to show what He could do.
How did this happen?
After the May 22, 2011 F5 tornado destroyed her home, Stephanie Dalton told a friend, “Just you wait and see what God is going to do for my family.” One hour later, a representative from the College Heights Christian Church called Stephanie with the news that two men from a small church in rural western Illinois wanted to help her rebuild her home. And they did it! Less than nine months after the tornado leveled a third of the city of Joplin, churches from 21 communities raised the money and provided work crews including a group from the Western Illinois University campus ministry group on their spring break to rebuild Stephanie’s home.
As Roy Day and Ryan Johnson supervised the project, they quickly realized this job was more than building a house. Churches and communities came together with a common purpose. Day and Johnson used the technology of Facebook, YouTube and a blog site to keep a fragmented audience connected. Pictures of the progress galvanized contributors and prayer warriors to support the project to the end. As they watched God partner with the project and provide in so many ways, Roy and Ryan’s lives “were changed forever.” Roy, a cement contractor and Ryan, a financial advisor, now want to use their gifts to build other homes for victims of disasters.
If you want to read more about Stephanie, Roy and Ryan, click here to read their story published in the Christian Standard.