During the early days of March 2019, multiple rounds of deadly tornadoes tore through southeastern Alabama leaving a path of destroyed lives and buildings in their wake.
With winds reaching 170 mph, this was the deadliest outbreak since 2013, leaving 23 dead.
In the aftermath of destructive storms, disaster relief rescue teams hit the ground running.
But what they found as they searched the debris of one destroyed home had them praising the Lord!
Amid the tragedies, a story of amazing protection was revealed by two sisters, Renee Frazier and Evony LaShawn Wilson, as they explained what had happened to their mother and family.
Tucked within the tussled remains from the deadly tornadoes was a 72-year-old grandmother, Earnestine Reese, whose entire home had been destroyed except for her prayer closet!
All other walls, the roof, the furniture, the furnishings, the fixtures, literally everything but the closet was gone, down to the foundation of what once was her house!
Additionally, a trailer where one of her daughters lived on the property was destroyed as well.
But Earnestine had survived the storms inside the prayer closet as she praised, worshipped, and prayed to God! Multiple family members survived as well, crowded into the tiny room with her as the storms approached.
When she was brought out of the rubble of her house, Earnestine told her family “Tell the Lord thank you!” even when she found out that the trailer was gone as well as her house. She still reiterated “Tell the Lord thank you!” according to a video posted of her family by Franklin Graham and viewed more than one million times since the tornadoes.
“The trailer is gone, the house is gone too—tell the Lord ‘Thank you.’” Renee Frazier, lost 7 family members during the deadly tornadoes in AL—listen to her powerful message. Please continue to pray for these storm victims who have lost so much. Samaritan's Purse disaster response teams and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association chaplains are there helping in Jesus' Name.
Posted by Franklin Graham on Tuesday, March 12, 2019
The chaplain was quick to point out in an interview with Fox News that Ms. Reese’s spirit contained a light which is only supplied by God. “Thank you Ms. Reese for showing us what it means to love and praise through the storm.”
It’s easy to have faith when life is not on the line, but to remain steadfast in the shadow of death is truly soul-touching!
The prayer closet is reminiscent of one explored in the Kendrick Brothers’ film “War Room” <amazon link> from 2015. A prayer closet allows for a private area, free of distraction, for a believer to spend time directly in prayer and worship of the Lord.
As the storms hit, this room proved to be so much more than just a spiritual place, it turned into a physical place of sanctuary for the family as well!
In so much destruction, the survival of this family and prayer closet served as a sign from the Lord that He continues to remain faithful throughout all our storms, no matter what. One of the first responders, Kerry Pickard, who witnessed the prayer closet said this in a Facebook post:
“All I saw was some of the most loving people I have ever met, people who let their light shine bright in the darkest of times.”
Sadly, seven members of Earnestine’s extended family were among the 23 people killed, 15 of the 23 lived on her street alone. But still Earnestine remains confident in her praise of the Lord: “Keep telling God thank you!” is a common refrain for her.
We can all take this simple lesson with us throughout all of the struggles or storms we face in our lives – just keep thanking God! Like Casting Crowns’ ballad “Praise You in this Storm” says:
And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You’ve never left my side
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone how can I carry on
If I can’t find you
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear you whisper in the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away