News Articles

Okla. tornado victim stays resolute on attending seminary graduation

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–It was a day not to forget for 324 men and women who walked the aisle to receive their long-awaited degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary May 15. For one graduate and his wife, not even a deadly tornado could keep them away.
The packed sanctuary of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, was a far cry from the devastation Chuck Louviere and his wife, Tracy, had seen when tornadoes roared through the Oklahoma City area May 3 leaving a swath of leveled homes and neighborhoods in their wake. Both credit God’s protection for allowing them to be able to take part in the commencement service.
Louviere, of Moore, Okla., graduated from Southwestern with his master of divinity with biblical languages degree, one of 378 degrees conferred.
Monday, May 3, both he and his wife had more on their minds than graduation. Chuck, who was attending the seminary’s Shawnee campus, was at home looking for Tracy when he saw on television that a tornado was headed toward their neighborhood and he began to hear hail and high winds outside his home. Despite news reporters’ warnings to the contrary, Louviere knew it was time to leave.
He drove for several minutes until he reached an overpass under which he abandoned his car and took shelter. The wind was already blowing so strongly, he said, that the car shook. Debris was hitting his car by the time Louviere pulled off under the overpass and watched the tornado go through his neighborhood.
After the storm passed, he tried to go back to his home to look for Tracy. Unable to get back in the neighborhood, he located a phone and called her parents in Tulsa.
Unaware that tornadoes were ripping through her neighborhood, Tracy had been in class at the University of Central Oklahoma. When she left to drive home, she ran into traffic that was so backed up that it took her 90 minutes to go only 12 blocks. In trying to get home, she drove down Interstate 35, and the cars she saw along the interstate, she said, looked as if they had been burned.
Tracy pulled into a parking lot four to five blocks from her neighborhood and started walking, seeing the damage get progressively worse. Apparently in a state of shock, Tracy said God must have protected her because she remembers walking over downed power lines and through scattered debris to get to her home. When she arrived at her house, she searched but did not find Chuck. She also found a phone to call her parents and was talking to them when Chuck called them back.
“Not knowing [if her husband was OK] was the hardest part,” Tracy said, a sentiment echoed by her husband.
In a situation like that, Chuck added, “your priorities fall into line quickly. You learn whether or not you’re a steward, what and who is important.”
And what was important, both said, was that they were all right. The loss of the house does not matter, Chuck asserted.
“It seems so small compared to others who had lost their lives,” Tracy agreed.
She also noted that in the aftermath of the tornado, it wasn’t difficult to tell the people who had a relationship with God versus those who did not. Those who did, she said, “had their heads up” and knew immediately what a person meant if they started talking about Christ. The others were down and more despairing, she said.
In spite of all the wreckage and the loss of their house, they agreed God has been good to them, and a situation like this allows a greater window for the gospel to be shared.
“People want to know what’s going on, and you’re able to tell them about God,” Chuck said.
In spite of the tornado devastation and losing almost everything, Chuck was able to finish his classes and take his finals.
“I’m not going to let a little wind keep me from walking,” he said with a smile.

    About the Author

  • Cory J. Hailey