Sad and timely news
FamilyLife is a Christian Ministry with staff in Arkansas. Yesterday, they lost a staff member and two of his daughters in the tornado that touched down.
Here is a reprint of an email that was released.
A day of extreme emotions here at FamilyLife.
He died as he lived … protecting his family.
Rob Tittle, a FamilyLife staff member and kindred spirit warrior for the family, died last night in the tornado that crushed parts of central Arkansas. Two of his daughters—Tori, age 20, and Rebekah, 14—were among the 14 killed in the storm.
Rob, 48, and his wife Kerry, had heard the tornado warnings and were shepherding their nine children under a stairwell when the tornado disintegrated their home. Rob was doing what a man does—putting his family first—when the twister hit.
All that is left is a grim grey slab of concrete.
Whitney Tittle, age 19, posted this on Facebook: “This is Whitney from a friend’s house, my mom, and my six brothers/sisters are alright. We have lost three of our family … Dad, Tori and Rebekah, prayers would be appreciated. The house is gone stripped from the foundation. The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
Minutes later and less than ten miles away, Barbara and I peeked out from under the stairs as the storm passed in front of our home. It tends to get your attention when the TV weatherman says the tornado is bearing down on your street! We could see the wall cloud crossing a lake, less than two miles away.
Thankfully the twister missed our home, but it chewed its way across the Arkansas River Valley and smashed into the small community of Mayflower (population 2312) where another staff couple, Dan and Kirsten Gaffney, lost their home and their two cars.
Dan saw the twister coming across the river and hurriedly moved his wife, six children, two dogs, a bunny rabbit, and a lizard into the master bedroom closet, which was designed as a storm shelter.
He closed the door. And as the seconds ticked by, Dan said to his children, “This is the day of salvation! If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT!”
A moment later, the tornado tore into their home, sucking the vent plate out of the top of the shelter. Dan said, “The pressure in that shelter was ten times that of any airplane ride I’ve ever taken!”
The twister was gone and with it their home.
They peeked out of the vent and all they could see was a landscape marked by massive devastation. They couldn’t get out of the shelter, so they called 9-1-1. Neighbors arrived and it took them 30 minutes to get the family out. They were stunned to find a car leaning against the shelter.
The family could smell gas leaking, so they walked more than two miles, some barefoot and others wearing adult shoes. They met a friend who took them out to get a pizza and some cookies.
Riding in a van, one of the Gaffney children said, “This is the worst day of my life!” To which 10-year-old Julia, who has prosthetic legs, replied, “That may be, but we need to talk about the good things!” The rest of the ride was spent celebrating the “good things.”
Tornados are full of tragedy, but also have threads of irony. Today a photo was posted on Facebook by a local weatherman, who asked, “Anyone recognize the name?” It showed Emily and Noah Tittle’s name on a UPS package and an old photo of Kerry when she was a toddler. The items were found in Heber Springs, Arkansas—80 miles from the Tittle’s home.
Today has been a day of extreme emotions here at FamilyLife. We mourn the loss of a good man and coworker and his two daughters, and at the same time we celebrate the survival of so many children and family members. The news could have been much worse.
One last post from Whitney Tittle: “Dear friends, Do one thing for me. Hug your dad. Hold him tight and don’t let go, that man is the greatest gift God gave to you. Tell him you love him, tell him you will always Love him.”
Pray for the Tittles and Gaffneys in their journey with Christ.