When a massive bomb exploded outside a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, Baptists felt the repercussions.
When a massive bomb exploded outside a federal
building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, Baptists felt the
Not only were Southern Baptists among the victims of
the blast, but they quickly were on the scene to offer help and hope to
Ministers traveled to the bomb site to counsel with
grieving family members and even rescue workers overcome by the scene
“I’ve never seen (anything) like this before,” one
Baptist chaplain said of the scene. “We’ll never get over the impact of
seeing these things.”
Blast victims included children who attended the
daycare located in the building. All in all, 168 persons were killed in
the blast – and hundreds of others suffered a range of injuries.
The families and loved ones of the victims also
proved to be casualties as well, left to deal with the trauma and loss.
Through it all, Southern Baptists worked with affected persons – listening, counseling, crying, praying.
“It’s not nearly so much what you say as just being
there,” area pastor Mark Estep explained at the time. “I pray for them,
and I pray with them. … But mostly, I think it’s important just to be
there as an ambassador for God – a visible reminder of his presence.”
The April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building cost Patti Hall more than just her job at the Federal
Employees Credit Union.
It also cost her in terms of unimaginable suffering and financial setback.
However, hardest of all, it deprived her of her identity.
“One of the things I’ve noticed is it’s hard for me
to realize that I’m not part of what I used to be, such as when I was
working,” says Hall, who attends Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma
City. “That’s terribly hard. …
“(And) Most people forget you. The only time you’re remembered is when the anniversary comes up each year.”
Ten years after she suffered more than 40 broken
bones and a collapsed lung when the bomb exploded as she was walking in
the third floor hallway, Hall says she still struggles with “who” she
Buried beneath the rubble of the building for about
45 minutes before rescuers dug her out, she now spends her time quietly
trying to dig out from beneath the memories of 18 surgeries.
“About four years ago, I really had a hard time, and
I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life,” Hall reflects. “But
I pray constantly for God’s will in my life – whatever he wants me to
do. I don’t know what that is. Maybe I’m doing it but don’t know it.”
The years of loneliness and pain have caused Hall to have what she calls “some crazy conversations” with God.
“Sometimes, I get so mad at him and yell, ‘How can
you sit up there on that throne and look down while all of this is
going on down here?’” she admits.
“But he tells me he is in control – always. He tells me I need to take care of my own knittin’.”
Hall says she still is mystified why God let her
live through the horror. “I talk to him mainly about why he let me
live,” she explains. “It has been a mystery to me, and I talk to him a
lot about that still.
“I really hope I’m helping to make a difference in
people’s lives,” Hall adds. “I don’t know what I’m expecting, if I’m
expecting something or someone to step right out and say, ‘Hey, I’m the
“But I know in my heart that it’s for him. I never doubt that.”
Hall has become a champion for victims’ rights in the last 10 years.
However, as one of 800 survivors of the 1995 bombing, she says it has
been very difficult saying goodbye to friends who have died through the
years, in addition to the 18 fellow employees killed in the explosion.
“It’s tough,” Hall says. “I’ve had to go to a lot of funerals, and that makes me question it all sometimes.
“But I just have to say, ‘Okay, you know God is
stronger than you are. He is in control whether you think it’s right or
not, whether you like it or not.’”
Thus, Hall stays busy volunteering with several
organizations, going to church and visiting her 85-year-old mother.
But all that “going” proves difficult. Hall uses a
cane to help walk on the days her pain is intense, while shuffling
slowly on the “good days.”
She still is trying to decide whether to have
another operation, this time to remove the steel rod surgeons placed in
her left ankle four years ago. “I’m trying to get the nerve up to go
through the pain again,” she says.
Besides the physical pain, Hall has dealt for almost
seven years with trying to pay off attorneys who “helped” her obtain
worker’s compensation payments as a result of the explosion that cost
her her job.
Still, despite all the hardships, Hall’s life is
punctuated by laughter. As much as her knees, legs and ankles hurt, she
jokes, “I can always tell when the weather’s going to change!”
She also loves to visit with friends
“I’m not going to tell you every day is a glorious
day; it isn’t,” she says. “When I hurt real, real bad, it’s hard to get
out of bed. But what I do now is just stay there and read a book. (BP)