LONDON (BP)–A group of more than 50 students and faculty members from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was in London for a summer study program at Oxford University when terrorists bombed the city July 7, but officials at the seminary said the group members “are safe and accounted for, and were not in the areas affected” by the attacks.
Malcolm Yarnell, assistant dean for theological studies at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus and the leader of the London group, said they held a prayer session in response to the bombings and focused on Psalm 146:5-10.
“A number of people here at Oxford and at Regent’s Park College have relatives who live and work in London,” Yarnell reported. “We have been counseling and encouraging them and praying for their loved ones.”
He added that the program’s plans would proceed as normal, except a planned visit to London on Saturday might be canceled.
“We would appreciate Southern Baptists and other American Christians lifting up the British people in prayer during their time of tragedy,” Yarnell said.
Southwestern President Paige Patterson, who also was in Europe when the terrorists struck, urged the seminary family to “pray for the people of London as they assess the loss of life and deal with this tragedy.”
Tabatha Rains*, a Southern Baptist worker in London, had finished her term and was looking forward to flying home to Denver when the underground train she was aboard suddenly stopped.
It was a good bit later before she learned that a deadly attack on the city’s transportation system had caused what at first seemed like an unnerving delay to the airport. Rains missed her flight, but she and fellow workers in the city were unharmed. A morning series of explosions had hit a bus and three trains, leaving hundreds injured, and some lost their lives.
Rains, who teaches English in the city, said she felt something inside her telling her to get off the train when it stopped. But with her sunscreen and flip-flops packed, she thought, “I can’t give up my trip — I wanted to go home.” No one seemed to know what was happening, she said.
“A few people swore and some laughed … some were like, ‘Oh give us a break,'” she recounted, pointing out that there were often delays on the train. “I kept thinking, ‘How am I supposed to make my flight?'”
When Rains finally had to get off the train, she dragged her luggage along the streets before finding a bus. While making her way back to her flat in the city, she overheard what had happened. She said she was “really shook up.”
“I don’t think anybody thought there would be a terrorist attack,” she said. “But God kept me safe.”
It may be several days before Rains is able to reschedule her trip home. If that is the case, she feels confident that God wants her there for a reason.
“Maybe it is a good time to be with people,” she said. “There is probably a reason I’m stuck in London.”
Rains plans to return to her assignment in London in August.
* Name changed for security reasons. Compiled from reports by Shawn Hendricks & Gregory Tomlin.