Olivia and I have benefited from attending FamilyLife Weekend to Remember and Art of Marriage events since 2007. Those events and the volunteers and staff who make those events possible have helped strengthen my marriage. On April 27, a tornado touched down in the Little Rock, Arkansas area and impacted the staff and families of FamilyLife Ministries in a tragic way, and I wanted to share this message from Eric Graefen. Thank you for taking the time to read this message, and any support you feel led to give to these families in a time of need.
from Eric Graefen, FamilyLife Ministries
Rob Tittle, a FamilyLife staff member and kindred spirit warrior for the family, died Sunday night in the tornado that crushed parts of central Arkansas. Rob, his 20 year old daughter Tori, and 14 year old daughter Rebekah, were welcomed into the presence of Christ. Four of the other children suffered broken bones, including seven-month old Joshua, who was airlifted to a nearby hospital.
|Tittle Family Portrait|
Kerry says the tornado literally just dropped from the sky on top of their home…they live in the country and weren’t watching TV so they had no warnings. They were just hanging out on a Sunday evening when it hit. They did see the storm coming and Rob was gathering all the family under the stairwell — he had just left to go find the two teenage daughters when it hit. The storm was so powerful that the following day items from their home were found in Heber Springs — 80 miles away.
Whitney Tittle, age 19, posted this on Facebook: “This is Whitney from a friend’s house, my mom, and my six brothers/sisters are alright. We have lost three of our family … Dad, Tori and Rebekah, prayers would be appreciated. The house is gone . . . stripped from the foundation. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
As the tornado continued to chew its way across the Arkansas River Valley, it smashed into the small community of Mayflower (population 2312). There another staff couple, Dan and Kirsten Gaffney, lost their home and their two cars. Dan saw the twister coming across the river and hurriedly moved his wife, six children, two dogs, a bunny rabbit, and a lizard into the master bedroom closet, which was designed as a storm shelter. As the seconds ticked by, Dan said to his children, “This is the day of salvation! If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, now is the time to do it!” A moment later the tornado tore into their home, sucking the vent plate out of the top of the shelter. Then the twister was gone, and with it their home. As they peeked out of the vent, all they could see was a landscape marked by massive devastation.
They couldn’t get the door open, so they called 9-1-1. Neighbors arrived and it took them 30 minutes to get the family out. They were stunned to find a car leaning against the shelter.
The family could smell gas leaking, so they walked more than two miles, some barefoot and others wearing adult shoes. They met a friend who took them out to get a pizza and some cookies. Riding in the van, one of the children said, “This is the worst day of my life!” To which 10-year-old Julia, who has prosthetic legs, replied, “That may be, but we need to talk about the good things!” The rest of the ride was spent celebrating the “good things.”
|Gaffney Family Portrait|
The past two days have been days of extreme emotions here at FamilyLife. We mourn the loss of a good man and coworker and his two daughters, and at the same time we celebrate the survival of so many children and family members. The news could have been much worse.
Pray for the Tittles and Gaffneys in their journey with Christ.
To make a donation to assist the Tittle’s: http://www.bclr.org/tittle.
To make a donation to assist the Gaffney’s:www.mosaicchurch.net/tornado-relief-fund (It doesn’t specifically refer to the Gaffney’s on the site, but their church has assured all proceeds will go to them).
One last post from Whitney Tittle: “Dear friends, Do one thing for me. Hug your dad. Hold him tight and don’t let go, that man is the greatest gift God gave to you. Tell him you love him, tell him you will always Love him.”