God is faithful and wastes nothing.
40 years ago, a significant event occurred in the lives of the Adamses.
It was 1974. My dad, Steve Adams, was serving as the worship pastor for Xenia First Church of the Nazarene and was working with Senior Pastor Howard Rickey, Associate Pastor Harold Horton, Youth Pastor Jim Baughman, and Children’s Pastor Susie Johnson-Miller. Easter Sunday was approaching rapidly and the church was busy preparing for a day of celebration.
Mid-morning of April 3rd, the sky grew menacing and dark. A storm erupted and a mile-wide path of destruction was carved by one of the largest tornadoes in recorded history. It splintered the town of Xenia, Ohio. Countless homes and businesses were leveled. Thousands of people were injured and there were numerous deaths. It was a devastating event.
My dad was buried alive beneath the rubble of a furniture store that morning. Trapped in a pitch-black cavern of panic and isolation, Dad cried out to God, fearing death. He recounts that, miraculously, God met him in a supernatural way and brought the most unthinkable and powerful peace he had ever known. His darkest moment was filled with the brightest of hope.
Moreover, God gave Dad a way out. The weight of concrete and steel surrounding dad was far too great to push away. Instead, he began to bring pieces in toward him until he created a hole large enough for safe passage.
When he was finally standing above the debris, his mind was not prepared for what he would see first…nothing. Everything within his field of sight had been completely wiped off the face of the map. He walked up the street toward the church campus, where he had been only minutes before the storm unleashed its fury. He arrived at the church, only to find that just a few partial walls of the building were standing. The campus was lost – including the parsonage next door.
In the wake of the killer storm, the staff of the church looked on the piles of rubble that lay where the sanctuary once stood and asked God to do something extraordinary in their community.
A few days later, Pastor Rickey and my dad took a walk to the remains of the furniture store where dad had been buried alive. When they arrived there, several national guardsmen were pouring through what was left of the building. Dad was asking questions and one of the guardsmen said, “Were you in this building when it collapsed?” Dad responded that he in fact had been in there. The guard turned to the rest of his crew and informed them that they could stop looking. He then turned to dad and informed him that someone reported seeing dad go into the store. All of the other people known to be in the store when the storm hit had been found dead beneath the crumbled mortar. Pastor Rickey put his hand on Dad’s shoulder and said, “Steve, God doesn’t promise to take us out of the storms of life. He does promise, however, that he will be right in the middle of them with us.”
This powerful truth, shared by Dad’s pastor and lifelong friend, was the fertile ground from which the song “Peace in the Midst of the Storm” broke forth. Over the course of my lifetime, I have seen God do incredible things in countless lives through the power of this song. There is no question that it is and always will be the anthem of our family.
There is also no question that it is the anthem of Xenia First Church of the Nazarene. For, in the months of rebuilding that followed a day of such terror and loss, God answered the cry of the church staff and poured out his Spirit upon that community of faith in immeasurable fashion. Countless families came to Christ. The church became the epicenter of hope and healing for a town in great need. God uncovered His glory and met them all right where they lived.
Here we are…40 years later and Xenia is alive and well! Dad and Pastor Rickey still get together fairly often. When they do, they usually end up discussing two or three books over the course of several hours. Inevitably, they reminisce and look back and marvel at what God did in their town and lives.
God is still writing that story. It is one of the greatest joys of my life to serve in my current job alongside Brian Brown, nephew of Howard Rickey. God’s blessing is carried on the wings of friendship from one generation to the next.
Whatever you’re facing right now…wherever you find yourself…I want to encourage you with this: God is not removed from your circumstance. He is as close as the mention of His name. He is our peace and He is from everlasting to everlasting. Put your trust in Him – He will not fail you. He’s an Anchor, He’s a Rock to cast your faith upon!
Thanks, Dad, for giving us this song! Thank you, Lord, for giving us peace!!