Surrounded by visitors and members of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Jim Brunk (center) leads the congregation in prayer during "Surthrivor Service" at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Bridge Creek Oklahoma on May 3, 2009. Photo by John Clanton
The pair said they don’t get many chances to return to disaster sites after their relief efforts are done.
"This is a great feeling for us,” Kiser said, looking around at the crowd. "God will take anything and use it for His glory. Look at this — their physical church was wiped off the map, but the spiritual part was not gone. God was not gone.”
McClain, a Bridge Creek resident, said she now has a storm shelter. She said she recalls the darkness of the school gym where she worked triage and the smell of mud and blood intermingling.
"Emotionally, God promises to bring us through. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have hardship,” she said, echoing Davis’ sermon.
Several people shared their testimonies, including Peggy Morton, the church’s closest neighbor whose home was destroyed by the tornado along with the Ridgecrest church building. Church members Heather and Andrew Dawkins spoke of how their faith in God grew in the storm’s aftermath.
After the service, Bridge Creek resident Janie Pruett, business manager for Bridge Creek Schools, said she remembered manning the temporary morgue set up after the storm.
"It’s important to remember where you’ve been — how far the Lord has brought you,” she said. "It’s a great community. We proved it during those days of the tornado.”