During the 2017 Auxiliary Presidents Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Katie McCormick received distressing news. In a text from her daughter-in-law, Jill, she learned an outbreak of tornadoes in southwest South Carolina had wrought devastation on their family’s farm. Katie immediately called to make sure everyone was OK. “I can’t talk,” said Jill amidst the sounds and screams in the background. “We are trying to get out of the house. Everything is torn up. Please come home.”
Katie and her husband, Tim, ran to their car and made the eight-hour drive home, anxious about the untold destruction awaiting them. The conference they left behind had emphasized the true power of prayer, so they took their concerns to the Lord, and they were greatly encouraged by the knowledge that conference attendees were interceding on their behalf.
The EF2 tornado struck the family farm around 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, January 17. Several of Katie’s children and grandchildren, as well as a few employees and family friends, were caught in various parts of the farm as the twister tore through the property, leaving battered fields, barns, and chicken coops in its wake. Roofs were ripped off buildings, trees and debris crashed into their son’s home, and one of the family’s cars was completely destroyed.
The sheer violence of the storm was terrifying, but as quickly as it came, it moved on, and the family emerged to assess the destruction. No lives were lost, and every farm animal was accounted for, but there was substantial damage to the property and, thus, to their livelihood. The McCormicks remained grateful that they had been protected from physical harm, but uncertainty now lay in the future of their business.
The next morning, however, volunteers began to arrive on the farm to help clean up and re-build. Numerous local churches and the Charleston Fire Department lent their support, and Gideons and Auxiliary began to arrive from across the state. They took chainsaws to fallen trees, cleared large piles of debris, patched roofs, and repaired chicken coops. Work that would have taken the family months was now being accomplished with astounding speed.
Large quantities of food also began to appear on the farm, and after a long day of work, the team of volunteers sat down to a well-deserved meal. During dinner, local Gideon Mike Mills shared a testimony of how God had restored his health in a time of need. His story served as a reminder that, sometimes, experiencing God’s presence in hardships can have more value than not experiencing hardships at all. Quite unexpectedly, a property strewn with wreckage became a site of neighborly fellowship and revival.
On Monday, over 50 people returned to continue repairing the farm. Out-of-state Gideons offered to fly in and lend a hand, and food was provided generously for the second day in a row. “It reminded me of the miracle of the basket of fish and bread,” noted Katie. “We had little, but it kept multiplying.”
“It reminded me of the miracle of the basket of fish and bread,” noted Katie. “We had little, but it kept multiplying.”
For the McCormicks, this tragic experience served as an affirmation of God’s provision and His goodness. When they were dealt what felt like a crippling blow, their faith sustained them. They looked for the opportunity to manifest the active power of God and, in doing so, they gained a platform for sharing the Gospel.
“We are thankful for all the prayers, because we have felt them, and we have seen the power of God at work. We really do serve an awesome God. He is good, and He is faithful. We still have a long way to go on our farm – but we are off to a very good start,” said Katie. “The storm came, but today the sun is shining.”