By Tommy Rush
Last Saturday afternoon a tragic accident took place on I-65 near Greenville, Alabama. Sadly the accident claimed the lives of ten people, a young father and his baby girl from Tennessee and eight young people returning home from a trip to the beach. The Young People whose ages ranged from five to seventeen, were all residents of the Alabama Sheriff’s Girl’s Ranch. I share this article because the Alabama Sheriff Youth Ranches has been a ministry that my wife and I have been familiar with for many years. The ministry was started by a group of Christian Sheriffs and Business People in the early 70’s and their goal was to provide a good home and a godly environment for neglected and abused children. Many people mistakenly think that the Sheriff Ranches are juvenile detention centers, but that is not the case. I would encourage you to check out their website (www.alabamasheriffsyouthranches.org) and see how God has used this amazing ministry to touch the lives of more than 5000 children over the past five decades. I wish that I could describe in words the beauty of this awesome ministry and how it has impacted so many young lives with God’s goodness and grace!
In a social media post this week, Hunter Pearson, a photographer who travels the state taking photographs of Alabama’s natural beauty and it’s historical sites, described his experience after coming up on the accident. His words reminded me of two things that I hope to never forget. Everyday is a gift! I pray for God to give me the wisdom to live each day making this world better rather than wasting time whining and complaining about all that’s wrong in the world. Secondly, I hope to never forget that every person is a precious soul and worth loving in Christ! This week I have been reminded of the thousands of house-parents and volunteers involved in ministries like the Sheriff’s Youth Ranches. They are grieving today, but God bless those who have devoted their lives to loving those who desperately need love!
“Returning home to Huntsville from a week in Gulf Shores with my family, we made it just past Greenville, AL on I-65 North when, without warning, the traffic came to a sudden and screeching halt. Immediately I could see a large plume of black smoke rising from the roadway just around the bend about 3/4 of a mile in front of where we were stopped in the road. We had no idea what had just happened. And it would be hours before we had any clue of the horrific event that transpired almost in front of our own eyes. But slowly and one by one, emergency vehicles made their way ahead of us to the scene. They traveled on the shoulder of the northbound lanes, and they traveled north in the southbound lanes with sirens blaring and lights flashing. All we could do was wait. Bystanders around us walked to the scene to see what happened. They would return and pass along what little information they could gather from those close to the accident site. One hour turned into two. Two hours turned into three. And three hours became four. We walked around our parked cars just to move our legs. I spoke with fellow motorists from Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, and all parts in between. Then I found myself standing in the middle of the southbound lanes of Interstate 65 with my camera. No cars sped by and no trucks roared past. And without notice, an ambulance appeared on the road leaving the accident scene just up the road from me. This one ambulance was the first of more to come leaving in the same manner. But this time their lights did not flash with bright intensity nor did their sirens scream with loud warnings. And we knew that this could only mean one thing. But standing there in the middle of the interstate it was incredibly quiet and beautiful, almost surreal. Green trees and green grass. And with a horrific event unfolding just up the road and around the bend, Alabama The Beautiful was there with me and all the rest of us. As hard as it was to focus on the beauty and serenity of our surroundings in the face of unimaginable tragedy, sometimes it is all we have left.”
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