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Oklahoma City police officer witnesses amid tornado’s chaos

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Sometimes the Lord goes to extreme measures to get a person’s attention.
Such may have been the case for one woman the evening of May 3 when devastating tornadoes ripped across the Oklahoma City area.
Oklahoma City police officer Gary Adams was leading music for a revival at Crestwood Baptist Church when a massive tornado hit Moore and south Oklahoma City.
“My house is about 12 blocks from where the tornado hit,” Adams said. “On the way home from Crestwood, I heard on the radio that all off-duty police officers were being called to work.”
Adams was assigned to the area at 134th and South Santa Fe, at about the southeast corner of the tornado’s path. Working from 8:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., Adams said about 2,000 to 3,000 cars came through the area.
People “were in a panic to get home and check on their houses and their loved ones,” Adams recounted. “I’ve done this job for years, and I’ve been in all kinds of circumstances, but it was one of the toughest things to tell a man he couldn’t go check to see if his wife and children were alive.”
Because there was so much traffic, the police officers’ way of dealing with the problem was not to talk to the people, Adams said. “We told them we didn’t have time to talk to them and needed them to move on,” he recounted.
It was brutal at times and he got cursed out and screamed at more times than he cares to remember, he said.
But one car in particular caught Adams’ attention. A vehicle pulled up with a man and woman in it. He was under some control, Adams said, but she was hysterical. They wanted to see if her mother, whose house was in the area, was all right.
“They pleaded with me to let them in, and I continued to tell them to move on, that I didn’t have time to talk to them,” Adams said. Then he explained to them it was dangerous to go in the area because of downed power lines and gas leaks.
The woman nevertheless kept saying she knew her mother was dead, but she had to find out for herself. Because she continued to be so hysterical, Adams had them pull over to the curb and went over to talk with them.
“I tried to assure her that everything that could be done was being done,” he said. “I told her the only thing I could suggest is that she pray.”
Adams said he asked the woman if her mother was a Christian. She started crying again, but her husband said she was a devout Christian, a very godly woman.
Adams told them that should give them comfort, knowing if she was dead, she is with the Lord, and if she was hurt badly, he is going to take care of her.
“The man was quiet, and she was crying softly now,” Adams said. “Then she said, ‘But you don’t understand. I don’t know that I’m ever going to see her again because I’m not a Christian.’
“I looked at her and said, ‘You know, I can help you fix that,’” Adams said.
He said the woman stopped crying, looked up and said, “Tell me.”
Adams shared how to become a Christian with her. He said she told him she was raised in a Christian home, had been pressured into receiving Christ as her Savior and then had rejected Christ and her upbringing in the faith. He said she was very cynical and didn’t understand how God could be so great and loving — and her mother follow him all these years — and then he would allow something like this to happen.
“I told her even if we don’t understand pain and suffering, knowing Christ and his love for us helps us know things are going to be OK,” Adams said. “I said we don’t have to understand in order to accept him.”
Adams gave her a couple of life experiences of his own that made him sometimes doubt the understanding he has of the love of the Lord and told her it is necessary to look beyond the apparent and trust in him.
“She prayed the prayer of salvation with me,” Adams said. “I told her I was a Southern Baptist minister and gave her the name of some churches in the area.”
Adams said the area which he was patrolling was the district he worked in before going into the public relations unit.
“I can almost drive through that district with my eyes closed and know where I am,” he said, “but as I drove through the disaster area, I could not believe the destruction. All the things I knew as landmarks and points to get my bearings were gone. The photographs in the newspapers and on TV don’t show the reality of the destruction.”
Adams said even though we don’t understand why the Lord allowed the tornadoes to occur, the love and compassion of the Lord can be seen through the suffering and the struggle of the people. A number of Christian police officers were doing the same job as those who are not Christians, for example, but the difference was amazing, he said.
“There was so much more compassion, understanding and acceptance of what had happened from the Christian officers,” he said.
“It amazes me to see the difference in how Christians behave and how they handle the chaos in disasters like that.
“It was wonderful, right in the middle of all that ugliness, to share Christ with someone.”

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  • Dana Williamson