Face to Face with a Tornado
May 3, 2010 - County Coroner Ricky Shivers was driving his truck when the tornado picked it up and rolled it four times on a road in Yazoo City, Mississippi, last Saturday.
God, if this is the way you want to take me, I’m ready.
— Ricky Shivers
“I came around a curve and I was looking at the base of the tornado,” Shivers said. “It was right there on me. Then the front end of my truck lifted up and I could see my headlights shining up into the funnel cloud. I said, ‘God, if this is the way you want to take me, I’m ready.’ But I wasn’t scared or anything.”
The pick-up finally came to rest on its side and Shivers had to smash out the windshield to escape. A passing motorist took him to the hospital.
Shivers was treated for cuts and bruised ribs and got four stitches in his left hand, but he went right back into the community to help tend to the four people who had been killed by the twister in Yazoo City.
He was later readmitted after contracting bronchitis.
Rapid Response Team chaplain Jim Giannestras talks about his encounter with Shivers: "When I met Ricky in the hospital, I didn’t yet know all the details, that he was a deacon and the county coroner.
“I had randomly gone out to his house—one of those God things—and talked with his younger son, not knowing it was Ricky Shivers' house.”
After connecting with the son, Giannestras went to the hospital to check on dad. It was then that Giannestras learned who Shivers was and that he already had a relationship with Christ. “It was so glorious to hear about his love for the Lord—how thankful he was, and how he was so glad for all God had done.”
Shivers' wife, Betty, is thankful for the work of Samaritan's Purse volunteers, who are removing massive oak limbs that had crashed through the roof and destroyed most of their house.
“The guys came out and cut the trees off our house,” says Betty. “It’s such a testimony. My husband cracked four ribs in the wreck and he can’t pick up any tree limbs or anything. Samaritan’s Purse has been so good to us.”
Giannestras also had praise for the Samaritan's Purse team: "Working behind Samaritan’s Purse opens up doors that normally would take a lot longer. Once you have come in and cut trees and pounded nails, people are very open to what you say. It really does put hands and feet on the work of the Gospel.”
Remember the families of those who died, homeowners who lost everything, and for RRT chaplains and SP volunteers.
The community is grateful for the partnership, too, says Giannestras. "People have come up to me: 'We are so thankful to God that you came to town.' It’s been so meaningful to them that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association came and that Samaritan’s Purse is here.
“The teamwork, the hand-in-hand work of the Rapid Response Team and Samaritan’s Purse, has made a great impact in the sense that we are present," Giannestras adds. "This isn’t the capital; it’s not a high profile city. It’s a little, poorer community – not a big famous place. The fact that we came has a great impact. It shows that we are trying to keep in step with the Spirit."
PHOTO shows RRT chaplain Jim Giannestras (left) visiting Ricky Shivers in the hospital.