ANGELS ARE WITH US
COMPANION THROUGH THE STORM
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve...?
It was two p.m. on a weekday in April 1974 in Louisville,
Kentucky. Lynne Coates and her husband, Glynn, were enjoying an
unexpected break from work, sitting on the steps of their porch.
Their older sons were soon due home from school. Their youngest
child, Collyn, would be at kindergarten at Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary until about five.
The couple chatted comfortably for a while. Although the
early-spring day was calm, small thin lines of clouds rippled
across the sky.
Glynn frowned. "Look at the sky. The last time I saw one
like that was when I was twelve, when a tornado hit."
Louisville was part of the Midwest's Tornado Alley, and the
weather service routinely issued tornado warnings or watches,
especially in spring. "I think we had all gotten a little blas‚
about tornados," Lynne admits now. "I certainly didn't expect to
But she did. The sky got darker, the wind picked up, and
Lynne began to feel apprehensive. The two older Coates boys came
home, and as the tornado sirens began, Lynne made preparations to
go into the basement. Glynn, however, hunted up his camera. "If I
climb high enough;" he told Lynne as he hoisted himself into the
tree in their front yard, "I ought to be able to get some great
"Are you crazy?" Lynne screamed at him over the rapidly
rising wind. "I just heard on the radio that Brandenburg has been
levelled. Get into the basement! Its really happening!"
The family huddled together underground, listening to the
roar that sounded like a train bearing down on the house, and
later, the pounding rain. Everyone's thoughts centered on Collyn.
Was he safe? Why hadn't they gone earlier to pick him up? But who
could have guessed that this time there would be a real tornado?
In just minutes the storm had passed, and the family came out of
the basement. Their neighborhood seemed relatively untouched,
except for occasional debris and some downed power fines. "I'm
going over to the seminary to get Collyn," Glynn announced, and
left immediately. They would all feel better once their youngest
child was with them.
Lynne gathered the older boys, and they gave thanks to God
for bringing them through the storm. Then she found a portable
radio and turned it on. They listened to reports of the damage.
And then they heard that the tornado had passed directly over the
seminary. One of the buildings had lost its roof. "Oh, Dear God,
Collyn!" Lynne cried, and she flew to the telephone. She dialed
the number of Collyn's kindergarten, but all she heard was the
popping and crackling sounds that occur when a line is out of
order. If the tornado had indeed gone in that direction, there
must be a lot of damage, she realized. It was possible that
telephone lines were down. But she had to know if Collyn was all
right! And what was keeping Glynn? An ominous feeling settled
within her heart. The seminary was only a fifteen-minute drive.
Glynn should have been back before now.
Lynne couldn't have known that Glynn's route took him
directly into the midst of the damage. What should have taken
fifteen minutes would eventually be a two-hour trip, as he wended
his way around uprooted trees, rescue vehicles, fallen wires,
houses dumped helter-skelter, and, perhaps worst of all, people
wandering the streets in a daze. The storm had virtually
destroyed a three-thousand-acre park of old trees next to the
seminary, and Glynn had to park many blocks from Collyn's
building. There was no way to drive through the devastation.
At home, Lynne tried again and again to phone the seminary
kindergarten, but the number wouldn't ring. Instead, she would
hear clicks, then the phone would fall silent. She grew more and
more distraught, and both children began to cry. "God, I can't
stand any more of this," she prayed. "You're the only one who can
help us now. Please watch over Collyn and the other children, and
keep them safe."
Once more, Lynne tried to phone. After a few clicks, the
phone suddenly started to ring! A calm, pleasant-sounding woman
then picked it up. "Don't worry," she answered Lynne's frantic
questions. "The children are fine. They were all taken to another
building before the storm. Their teachers will stay with them as
long as it takes the parents to pick them up."
Lynne hung up, and she and the boys shouted for joy. Collyn
was safe! They would just have to wait.
More than two hours later, Glynn and Collyn arrived. Glynn
told Lynne that he had found a sign posted on Collyn's building
door, telling parents where to go to collect their children. He
had gone to the building and found Collyn there safe. Collyn had
no memory of the tornado at all, except for noticing a bent
weather vane on top of one of the buildings.
Lynne accompanied Collyn to his classroom on his first day
back to school. She wanted to get the name of the woman who had
relieved her fear on the telephone. "I'd like to thank her;" she
explained to Collyn's teacher.
The teacher looked at Lynne in bewilderment. "But you
couldn't have spoken with anyone," she said.
"Oh, but I did," Lynne assured her. "You can ask my older boys. I
was frantic until this woman assured me that Collyn was fine."
"Mrs. Coates, that would have been impossible," the teacher
insisted. "We put a sign on the door, locked the building, and
moved the children before the tornado struck. There wasn't anyone
here. And don't forget-our phone lines were destroyed. No call
could have gotten through - or been answered."
Angels have been called our "companions in a storm." The
Coates family knows, in a special way, what that lovely promise
Entered on this Website December 2007