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Man, 74, finds path to God in tornado aftermath

Barry Stewart, 74, is flanked by Pastor Bryan Grigg and his wife, Krista, before Stewart was baptized.

KUTTAWA, Ky. (BP) – A tornado that destroyed the home of a western Kentucky man is also the instrument God used to change the man’s eternal destiny.

A year and a day after the Dec. 10, 2021, tornado ripped through western Kentucky, 74-year-old Barry Stewart made a profession of faith at Macedonia Baptist Church, then was baptized this past Sunday (Jan. 1). His salvation story testifies to the truth of Romans 8:28 – that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

Stewart and his dog, Buddy, were in their lakefront home when the devastating tornado ripped through the area. The tornado not only destroyed the house, but high winds swirled around Stewart and his dog, lifting them into the air. He clutched the collar of his dog with one hand and held a cellphone and flashlight in the other as wood and shrapnel bombarded his back.

“He had a peace about him the whole time,” said Bryan Grigg, pastor of Macedonia Baptist. “He wasn’t a Christian then, but he had an odd peace. All of a sudden, he and the dog dropped face down on the ground, landing between the floor joists of the house’s foundation. God set him down in that perfect spot to protect him.”

Grigg said that a dazed Stewart wondered where they had landed. Soon, first responders found him and took him to a quickly improvised emergency shelter in the Lyon County Convention Center. That’s where Stewart met Grigg’s wife, Krista.

“He was the first resident to arrive at the shelter,” she said. “That is where I met him, and we didn’t have much set up because the storm caught us off guard. We had gone to the food bank and rounded up things that we could easily heat up.”

Krista, who is Lyon County’s finance officer, was asked by county judge-executive Wade White to be the liaison to assist residents impacted by the storm. “We probably had less than 20 people at the shelter, but each one became very personal to me,” she said.

Bryan said Krista offered Stewart a bowl of soup as he sat on a cot at the shelter. “God used that bowl of soup to knit his heart with hers – they became fast friends and eventually led us to invite him to our home for a Bible study.”

“He attended the Bible study in our home, and then attended Bible studies in other people’s homes,” Krista said, with Bryan adding: “That led him to be comfortable with the church. He was not saved and had not been in a church in more than 30 years.”

“Through the process of attending our church and hearing the Word of God preached and people loving on him – the combination of being the Lord’s hands and feet and hearing the word preached – is what God used to bring Barry to faith in Christ,” Bryan said.

“We knew the Lord was working in his life, and Bryan began having very pointed conversations with him about salvation,” Krista said. “It was really awesome how the Lord worked through the tornado to save him. He could see the Lord was letting him know he had been saved for a reason.”

“I love it when I see anybody, but especially older men, be humble,” Bryan said. “I met with him several times individually and challenged him to repent and believe. He was ripe for the harvest – he just needed to be shown the way. He listened to me and didn’t try to divert the conversation or make excuses. At 74 he owned his sin and his need for the Lord. It was a blessing to be able to see him come to faith in Christ and to baptize him. It’s a blessing to see how God took a disaster and used it for his glory to bring Barry to faith in Christ.”

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  • Chip Hutcheson/Kentucky Today