Reflections from Dan Brokke
I have thought about today, the 6th of August, several times throughout this year. It marked a day 40 years ago of tragedy and shock for the entire Bethany family. None of us imagined that seven of our community would suddenly be with Jesus in a moment of time. I am sure there are stories that each person who was directly impacted by the tornado could tell. Family members who were either in the town of Outing or traveling when it struck, or those who heard of it over the radio here in Bloomington or around the world, could remember details of that day and the swirling thoughts as they heard of what was beyond comprehension.
Jon D. (who also witnessed the tornado) and I recently talked of our own perspectives when I was visiting with him in Japan; his was of coming from town and entering into the devastation and mine from lying on the ground with my dad behind one of the cabins as it struck. The total destruction was hard to grasp as we got up from our cocoon of a refuge where we were spared during the tornado. I know that God preserved our lives for more life on earth, while others entered the glory of heaven.
The following article can be found online from the National Weather Service by clicking here. The tornado that struck the Bethany Cabins taking seven lives is the F4 that went for 30 miles. This is the first time that I have seen the extent of tornado activity that went on throughout northern Minnesota, and the first time that I have seen a rating of the tornado as an F4. It was big.
At the funeral held in Bethany Church, seven caskets were lined up across the front. Pastor Hegre shared powerfully about our hope in Christ and the Resurrection. An article in the Minneapolis Star reported, “Some 1,000 persons attended funeral services for seven tornado victims in Bethany Missionary Church in Bloomington Monday afternoon. The loss of four residents must be keenly felt in the small colony of 75 teachers, administrators and their families who live together on 70 tree-shaded acres of western Bloomington. The death of three other persons must have been equally saddening. They included a 5-year-old child and two lifelong missionaries. All were killed last Wednesday when a tornado struck a retreat owned by Bethany Fellowship on Lake Roosevelt.” The article went on to quote Pastor Hegre’s message, “In a sense it was tragedy. Separation is always painful. But I wonder whether it should not be called triumph. Those who left us are now in the church triumphant.”
LeRoy and Vonnie D. lost three of their family: mother, Edith; daughter, Becky; and niece, Sharon. Harold C. lost his wife, Evelyn, and in-laws, Arthur and Minnie Olson. And our family lost my brother, Paul. In the midst of the loss and pain, God was faithful and present. There was confusion; there were questions that, frankly, never get answered; and there was second guessing about decisions and personal choices. But, in the midst of it all, God gave His comfort and the revelation of His goodness by His Spirit and through the outpouring of love from dear friends and members of the Bethany Fellowship and Bethany Church family.
We remember this day again with the hope and knowledge that we will all be united someday in Jesus presence. We have a Great Hope!
Huge Step Forward
A Bethany donor who is passionate about training nationals in missions made a $30,000 gift to Bethany. In light of this, an additional $30,000 will now be released from a Christian foundation. Together these funds will enable Bethany to complete a full bachelor’s degree in missions that will be used by the South African Theological Seminary. In addition to the degree being available through the seminary, Bethany will also use the materials in a distance education format to train leaders throughout Africa. The goal is to launch the first training site in early 2010. Within the next few years scores of national leaders will be trained throughout Africa. Already Bethany is in discussion with a ministry that anticipates planting 9,000 churches this year in Africa. This ministry has identified their need for trained leaders and sees the Bethany program as a vehicle to accomplishing this. A future step would be to translate the materials into other languages so that the program will truly have a global impact. This is a huge step forward in missions training! Several other foundations and donors are currently considering proposals from Bethany. Your ongoing prayer support is greatly appreciated.