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'That’s a Miracle': Oklahoma Baptist University Ravaged by Tornado but Records No Injuries

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A Christian university in Oklahoma sustained significant damage to its campus during a major tornado Wednesday, but escaped without any injuries or fatalities in what school officials are calling providential.

Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee was one of the hardest-hit areas in the region and received a visit the day after the storm from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who declared a state of emergency for the counties impacted by the storm. 

Heath Thomas, president of OBU, addressed students the day after the storm as they gathered to determine the next steps.

“What we see across our campus has never been experienced in the history of our university,” Thomas told students. The school was founded in 1910. “But because of your diligence and the way that you responded, and really, God’s protection, we have no injuries. We have no fatalities. And listen, where I’m from that is hallelujah territory, that’s a miracle.”

The university canceled classes for Thursday and Friday and said damage to campus “is significant.” Stitt, who met with Thomas, said “almost every building was damaged.”

School officials were working to ensure that students had food, water and proper housing. Structural engineers, Thomas said, were inspecting every building to assess their safety. Campus icon Raley Chapel and original building Shawnee Hall experienced “significant structural damage,” he said.

First responders and school officials had worked together to go through every dorm room to check on students. 

“Every… student has been accounted for,” Thomas said.

He credited volunteers and chaplains from Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief who he said “sprang into action” and were on campus the day after the tornado.

“We’ve got some challenging days ahead,” Thomas told students. “I don’t know how it’s all going to look. But I know who’s going to make it all clear. And that’s the Lord. And so we’re gonna trust Him.”

Photo credit: Todd Fisher / OBU Facebook

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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'That’s a Miracle': Oklahoma Baptist University Ravaged by Tornado but Records No Injuries Reviewed by RP on April 22, 2023 Rating: 5

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