Joe Crawford Ministers Through Tragedy Alumni Testimonials from Tornado Victims, Volunteers

Joe Crawford (92) Disaster Relief Minister, Memorial Road Church of Christ, Edmond, Oklahoma

On May 24, 2011, an F5 tornado was headed towards my home. I was three hours away and I knew my family was headed to the storm shelter across the street. I knew there would be no communication for awhile, so all I could do was listen as the storm chaser explained his eyewitness account of my neighborhood being wiped off the face of the earth. We survived. 

I never realized how that day would physically, emotionally and spiritually prepare me for May 20, 2013, when it happened again, but this time to thousands of others instead of my family. 

The strange thing was, I felt like it happened to me again. I understood what the people were feeling and what they would need even before they did. 

On May 20, I became the Disaster Relief Minister at Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. Those two days have played a bigger role in who I am as a Christian than any other days I can think of. 

Walking into the disaster zones in Shawnee, Moore, Oklahoma City, Carney, Luther, and elsewhere gave me the chance to share God’s love with people by letting them know they would be OK. 

Once they would hear that my family had been through this and we were able to rebuild our lives back, it gave them a sense of hope that they could make it back. 

One of the hardest things to do is explain to victims they have to fight to get back. They have to stop worrying about what has been lost and focus on what needs to be done to rebuild. It’s not easy when you’re standing in a pile of rubble that used to be your living room. Without support from around the country, it would be challenging for anyone to do alone.

The amount of supplies and money donated was overwhelming. It was powerful to walk up to people, put your arm around them and say, “Don’t worry ... we are going to help you,” and then actually have the physical ability to help. 

Thanks to the support of thousands of Christians around the country, we bought vehicles, food, appliances, bicycles, laptops, clothes, diapers, paid rent, covered medical expenses, and most importantly, brought people to a better understanding of Christ’s love. 

Volunteers from around the country poured in to help. These people were just as impacted spiritually from their volunteer efforts as those receiving the help. God truly works in wonderful and amazing ways.  Thanks to those of you who gave and are still giving. You have helped change people’s lives.

Fall 2013

View more stories from the Fall 2013 issue of Vision magazine.