Author Archives: Tonya Whitaker

‘The Father Effect’ allows indie filmmaker to reshape his life

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"The Father Effect"

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Four years ago, John Finch was a broken man. Today, he is a changed man all because he forgave his father."The Father Effect"

When Finch was 11 years old, his father committed suicide. For decades, Finch didn’t understand how to handle life like a man because he didn’t have a male figure in the home to guide him. This loss came to an end when God intervened.

Finch said a friend brought to Finch’s attention that he had some unresolved issues with his father’s death that led to his scattered view of what it is to be a man.

Based on this experience, Finch said he created The Perfect Father. He said the nonprofit organization exists to create awareness in fathers and realize their impact in what they say and do as dads.

To emphasize the role father’s play in the lives of children, Finch created a documentary based on his personal trials, “The Father Effect.”

“The movie came out of my own life story,” said the husband and father of three girls. “I never understood the full impact until a few years ago. I bought into what societyJohn Finch wants for a man.

“Essentially my problems were rooted in anger for my father. I had this father wound and I need to take care of that. I had to practice forgiveness and understand the power of that. Until I forgave my dad, I could not be the man, the husband, and father that God wanted to me.”

The first 30 minutes of the film is Finch’s story and testimony. The remainder of the film showcases counselors, pastors, and ordinary people discussing the importance of a father’s presence in the lives of children. Interviews from John Eldridge, best-selling author “Wild At Heart And Fathered By God” and Meg Meeker, author of “Strong Fathers Strong Daughters” are included in the documentary.

“I feel that other men needed to hear these stories,” the Denton resident said. “Most men don’t understand the power and influence they have as a men. When someone experiences this, you are going to have a wound, whether you are man or a woman.

Finch said the organization is in the process of completing the full-length film, but additional funds are need to make the full-length version a reality.

The documentary’s filming process has helped Finch become more appreciative of his family and his daughters.

“I walk in a daily awareness,” he said.

To view the short film, visit Vimeo or the movie’s YouTube Channel.  Learn more about The Perfect Father and “The Father Effect” at

Titles provide children a view of rescued Gulf Oil Spill pelicans

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By Lynda Deniger
Special to Inside The Pew

Lynda Deniger is president of HIS Publishing Company, a publisher of children’s books. The Abita Springs, La., resident will soon offer ebooks and Christian testimonials.Lynda_@_B&N-1 Deniger is the author of “Salty Seas and His Heroic Friends” and “Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill.”

Why did you create your business?

“I had written a children’s book manuscript in 1988 but kept telling myself I wasn’t a children’s author. I wouldn’t pursue publication until 2008 when I felt God impress me to self-publish. Once the process started I knew I wanted to perform the book for children. I got a mentor who taught me the art of storytelling and thousands of school children later, I found I really could entertain them and entice them to enjoy books and their stories.

When the Gulf Oil Spill happened, my characters ended up in the middle of it. Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill gives children a bird’s eye view of the event and how more than 2,000 pelicans were rescued, rehabilitated and released. It’s a realistic redemption story that provides valuable insight into the need for environmental stewardship.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Judges 18:9: ‘Arise… For we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good. Do not be too lazy to go; enter to possess the land.’ Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Walk in integrity in all you do. Seek God’s guidance for your business decisions and trust Him to direct your path. When you face obstacles, ask God for wisdom to handle it. Just believe that if He called you to step out in faith, He desires to bless you and the work of your hands.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“I didn’t do kids. Didn’t have any; didn’t hang around them. Actually, I was afraid of them and didn’t know how to relate. I find it amazing that given my history with children that God would call me to write children’s books and bring them to life through my performances. But then again, I’ve been performing since I was three. God just changed the age of my audience. I find great delight in their awe and wonder about my books, especially when they ask for my autograph. Oh, to be a celebrity for God!”

Both books by Deniger are available at Want to have your business featured on our Pew Business spotlight? Send us an email expressing interest to



Davis: Tithing is not a law … kind of

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By Ahmad Davis
Special to Inside The Pew

My first experience with tithing was when I was homeless sleeping out of the back of my 1991 Ford Explorer. I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio and his show gave me hopeTithe and inspired me to get out of debt and start to tell my money what to do.

As I gained composure and wrote my first budget on a yellow pad and starting to see some traction in my finances, he was also inspiring me to tithe because of some of the testimonies and experiences I was hearing on his show. So I begrudgingly wrote my first tithe check to a church that I had only visited once, but they were kind to me.

I soon recognized that my own inner struggles with writing the tithe check was not isolated, many people have a tough time giving 10% to God for various reasons. But, one reason was reconciled with me a while back and I wanted to share it with you.

Tithing was pre-law. The very first tithe was performed by Abram to Melchizedek. According to Genesis 14:18-20 (NKJV), the author wrote, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemiesAhmad Davis into your hand.’ And he gave him a tithe of all.”

This scripture shows that Abram gave a tithe to honor God who has already blessed him. There was no commandment given by God prior to this event to give ten percent of your earnings, it was done because it was the right thing to do.

As a rule of thumb, the first actions in the Bible set the precedent.

You might have a few reasons why you do not tithe, but read over the entire Genesis 14 chapter and pray over what God’s word is saying here. Prayerfully, you will feel a sense of peace about this piece of the great debate.

Ahmad Davis is a coach with Victory By Design, a firm based in Beaumont, Texas, serving clients locally, nationally and internationally. Ahmad provides solutions for individuals, couples, and businesses who are overwhelmed and stressed financially. Ahmad’s typical clients’ are pastors, single parents, lawyers, couples, doctors, business executives, newlyweds, business owners, and others who want a simple solution with remarkable measurable results. For more information, visit To get your questions answered on the Inside The Pew Forum, email Ahmad at


The First Born Son Inc. helps restore individuals and families

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Ezechiel "Zeke" Bambolo

By Ezechiel “Zeke” Bambolo, Jr.
Special to Inside The Pew

Through The Firstborn Son, Inc., Bambolo and his staff delivers motivational talks to elementary, junior and senior high schools, college groups, family advocate groups, Ezechiel "Zeke" Bambolo churches, and corporations. The focus of their presentations is improving family dynamics across all of these demographics by introducing or enhancing the understanding of multi-generational family legacy.

Why did you create your business?

“Our culture is riddled and crippled by the promotion of individualistic pursuits. We have greatly lost the understanding and exhibition of true family unity (love, strength, commitment, purpose, perseverance, etc.) within the confines of traditional family. However, corporations have adopted the traits (family branding) which ought to make families powerful and are successfully piling billions of dollars in their bank accounts. In short, the principles work greatly if applied properly and purposefully to our traditional families.

We deliver speeches, but most importantly seminars which allow individuals and family to acquire strategies, purpose, motivation, and more, as well as implement them. By implementing these principles we are able to securely set a winning multi-generational legacy which is sustainable long after we are dead and gone from this Earth. OurThe Firstborn Son logo dependents are then able to eliminate destructive familial occurrences such as divorce, child abuse, domestic abuse, infidelity, alcoholism, self-centeredness, and many more.

Since studies show employees leave corporations more for personal reasons than for any other (financial, promotions, etc.), companies greatly impact turnover and other negative trends by investing in the personal lives of their employees. Companies will also realize increase revenue generation by improving the personal lives of their staff. A stable home life most frequently generates a long serving and productive employee rather than the contrary.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“We seek greatly to serve and restore our fellow man, even in the midst of doubt and failure, much like Jesus Christ restores Peter after the resurrection. As such, the scripture which most empowers us and also reminds us to introspectively look at ourselves is John 21:15-17, The Love Motivation.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Your greatest investment and ultimate road to success (professional, financial, spiritual) rest in the heart and souls of your people (employees or clients). Invest authentically!”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“My life has been an amazing journey of a pretty healthy familial upbringing, lost it all to a tragic and treacherous African civil war, and received the mandate in my teenage years to restore the family to prominence. All of this has become the motivation for my current book, ‘The Firstborn Son: a Curse, a Gift, or a Calling.’”

Ezechiel “Zeke” Bambolo Jr., a resident of Seattle, Wash., is founder of The Firstborn Son Inc.. He is also a public speaker and author. Visit the his website, at Want to have your business featured on our Pew Business spotlight? Send us an email expressing interest to

Davis: How to stop living from paycheck to paycheck

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To avoid living paycheck to paycheck, set a budget.

By Ahmad Davis
Special to Inside The Pew

According to the Wall Street Journal, 70 percent of people in North America live paycheck to paycheck. There are a few great timeless pieces of knowledge to avoid living To avoid living paycheck to paycheck, set a budget.this way.

1. Set clear written goals

According to Proverbs 13:16, “Wise people think before they act; fools don’t – and even brag about their foolishness” (NLT).

Keep your goals simple, but precise. If you have a savings goal, then it might look like this – $1,000 for my emergency fund by June 20.

The major keys to this goal is that there is a specific target ($1,000), a specific goal name (emergency fund), and a date to achieve it. First, keep your goals simple and to the point, then work out a way to achieve them. If you challenge yourself during the goal setting process, you will find that you can achieve a lot more than you thought in a shorter period of time.

2. Create a written budget

“And the Lord answered me and said, ‘Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as heAhmad Davis hastens by’” Habakkuk 2:2 (AMP)

A written budget is the key to gaining control over your finances and start telling your money what to do instead of wondering where it went. Once again, keep it simple. You can have a spreadsheet, a yellow pad, a piece of paper, or whatever makes you comfortable. Work these basic steps every month and you will see results:

  • Write a monthly budget before the month begins (October budget written before October)
  • Start with your expected income at the top
  •  Subtract out expenses by priority (giving, saving, food, housing, transportation, medical, clothing, creditors, debt snowball, entertainment, other)
  •  Spend all of your income down to zero
  • Walk out your budget to
  •  Make adjustments the next month to fit your life and habits better

3. Save money for the expected and the unexpected

“The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get” Proverbs 21:20 (NLT)

One of the keys to building wealth is the ability to delay gratification. Saving and investing are the foundation of this principle. Now saving is for short term things that may occur within 5 years, while investing is long term five years or more. The very first thing you must do is start saving for things that you know are coming like:

  • Car repairs/maintenance
  • Non-monthly bills
  • Non-monthly memberships

In order to save for the unexpected you should have an emergency fund. I recommend three to six months in a non-investment account that is easy to get to, but not under your pillow.

4. Get Out Of Debt

“Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another” Romans 13:8 (AMP)

Debt robs you of your ability to give, save, and invest. Every dollar in a loan payment is a dollar that could have brought you from broke to cash in the bank. Get out of debt as quickly as humanly possible, because you can slip into debt with credit cards, car notes, student loans, mortgage, and the like, but you have to be very intentional on getting out.

  •  Keep the process simple when killing debts.
  • Organize your debts from smallest to largest balance
  • Pay the minimum payment on all of the debts except the smallest
  • Send all extra monies to the smallest and pay it off quickly
  • Take the money you were using on the smallest debt and combine it with the next smallest debt to pay it off quickly
  • Repeat process until all of your debts are eliminated

Overall, the key to stop living paycheck to paycheck is to have cash in the bank. So work this process and I guarantee results.

Ahmad Davis is a coach with Victory By Design, a firm based in Beaumont, Texas, serving clients locally, nationally and internationally. Ahmad provides solutions for individuals, couples, and businesses who are overwhelmed and stressed financially. Ahmad’s typical clients’ are pastors, single parents, lawyers, couples, doctors, business executives, newlyweds, business owners, and others who want a simple solution with remarkable measurable results. For more information, visit To get your questions answered on the Inside The Pew Forum, email Ahmad at

Review: Petra Vela Kenedy’s faith in God births a ‘legacy’ in South Texas

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Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Nearly 140 years after the death of Petra Vela Kenedy, residents inPetrasLegacy Brownsville, Texas, and Corpus Christi, Texas, are benefiting from her legacy.

It takes one person’s sacrifice and will to help make a difference in the lives of others. Keep in mind Petra died in 1875, but she taught her children at an early age the importance of helping others. This mindset was passed down through numerous generations. The biography of Petra is chronicled in the book, Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy (Texas A&M University Press, $35). Written by Jane Clements Monday and Frances Vick, the authors surround their story around the creation of South Texas thanks in part to the efforts of Petra, her husband, Mifflin Kenedy, and his business partner, Richard King. All contributed to created King Ranch. Located between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, King Ranch is one of the largest ranches in the world.

Petra’s story is not exactly ordinary. In 1854, she married Mifflin Kenedy, who was raised a Quaker, and they had six children together. Petra was previously married to Luis Vidal – a Mexican general – who died in 1849. Petra’s and Luis’ union resulted in eight children. Although Mifflin wasn’t a Catholic (sources show Mifflin’s ancestors were Irish Catholics), Mifflin respected Petra’s Catholic beliefs, and he gave generously to the Catholic Church in honor of “Petrita.” While others might see this pairing as being unequally yoked, Petra and Mifflin placed their religion backgrounds aside and gave their money and time to establishing the foundation for two Catholic Churches in South Texas, Church of the Immaculate Conception in Brownsville and St. Patrick’s Church in Corpus Christi.

Whenever I read a book, I like to take into consideration the points the author is trying to convey. With Petra’s Legacy, there are more than a couple. According to a review in Catholic Southwest, Petra’s Legacy has provided “a valuable addition to the history of South Texas.” The book also highlights a faith journey. An aspect overlooked the most is Petra’s unwavering reliance on God, through the good and bad times. She experienced the death of two sons, Adrian Vidal and John William Kenedy, and one infant daughter, Phebe Kenedy. Although her heart was heavy, she prayed to God for strength (John 14:1-4) and understood Phebe’s death was God’s design (Matthew 5:8). When Brownsville was ravaged by a fire, she prayed for the safety of her home and children. Petra understood that blessings – the birth of a healthy child or a successful business venture – were the workings of God. And she read her Bible frequently. I don’t want to go too far into the prosperity gospel, but Petra’s Christ-like habits benefited her and her family (Matthew 21:12).

Since the Monday and Vick relied heavily on second-hand accounts of Petra’s life, the reader can only see a glimpse of Petra’s relationship with the Father. However, there is no assumption that Petra taught her children the important of helping others. If this wasn’t the case, the fortune and the desire to give back to the less fortunate would have fallen by the waist side. Two foundations exist in 2013 because a Petra knew it was her “Christian duty” to help the less fortunate. The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation (established by Sarita Kenedy East, granddaughter of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy) and The John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust are Petra’s legacy that honors her devotion to her family and her church. The quote from Sarita shows the legacy Petra passed on her children and on to her grandchildren – “Sarita Kenedy East never wanted her name on anything… she just wanted to help.”

I’m sure Petra would approve.


Colt McCoy, Austin pastor throw support behind military nonprofit

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Matt Carter, left, and Colt McCoy and

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

A nonprofit that addresses the needs of active military has received two more celebrity supporters for its boot campaign.

On May 23, the Boot Camp Campaign announced that NFL quarterback Colt McCoy and Matt Carter, pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church, are featured on theMatt Carter, left, and Colt McCoy and organization’s official photo. According to a press release distributed from the Boot Camp, the photo release coincides with the release of McCoy’s and Carter’s book, “The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success.”

“The real win means trusting the Lord and walking with Jesus no matter what,” write Colt and Matt. “That kind of faithfulness is possible for any man who follows God with all his heart. No matter what circumstances threaten him, a faithful man is the most truly confident man in the room.”

McCoy was drafted by the Cleveland Browns during the 2010 NFL Draft. In April, the quarterback was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. As a Longhorn, McCoy led the University of Texas Longhorns to the 2010 BCS national championship against Alabama. Carter oversees the flock at the 8,000-member church in Austin and is an author and speaker at conferences around the nation.

The Boot Camp awareness campaign has enlisted more than 300 actors, professional athletes, musicians, politicians, and other celebrities who have laced up combat boots for the cause.

Boot Camp, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas, is a patriotic movement raises awareness of the challenges active military men and women face upon returning home. The nonprofit was founded by five Texas women in 2009. Proceeds from sales of the boots help wounded military and their families with job placement, mortgage free homes, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling, and adaptive clothing.

To purchase boots and read information about the needs of active military, visit

Gerard to fellow entrepreneurs: Trust Him, great things will occur

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Jennifer Gerard, founder of Whitening Lightning

By Jennifer Gerard
Special to Inside The Pew

Why did you create your business?

“After getting saved in 2009, it became increasingly difficult to be around all the negativity, cursing and substance abuse of my previous career as a sales manager for a carJennifer Gerard, founder of Whitening Lightning dealership. I prayed and asked God to help me. Several months later, a friend suggested I start a teeth whitening service and I did. The products I created for the service were a huge success and Whitening Lightning was born.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Philippians 4:13 is such a simple reminder that there is nothing too tough for our almighty God. I am reminded to put my trust in Him. I can and will accomplish ANYTHING He needs me to.

“I also love Isaiah 45: 6-7 which reminds me that every single action and event in my life is guided by the Lord Jesus. Therefore, no consequence or reaction is unintended. It is my reminder to look for what I am to learn from every situation and not spend time worrying about the future or being disappointed when I encounter an unwanted outcome.  It is all part of His plan.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“I have 3 pieces of advice for any entrepreneur:

  • Trust your instincts. The Holy Ghost is always there to guide us if we will only listen.
  • Believe in yourself. God made us all perfect in His image.
  • Respect yourself in business if you expect others to do the same. Others will only value us and our products or services if we value ourselves first.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“God can truly do ANYTHING. I started this business with $3,000 and in our first year we sold over $1.2 million. Trusting Him can lead to GREAT things!”

Jennifer Gerard is founder of Whitening Lightning Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of innovative and easy-to-use teeth whitening products and other beauty products. Want to have your business featured on our Pew Business spotlight? Send us an email expressing interest to

Goodwill Industries names Houston man 2013 Achiever of the Year

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Tyres Dickson’s dream of becoming a college football star at the University of Texas ended when an accident with a drunk driver left him paralyzed from the chest down. Life after the 1998 accident has had its ups and downs. But, a chance opportunity of securing employment with Goodwill has helped him rebuild his confidence. The Houston native was recently named Goodwill Industries 2013 Achiever of the Year for his efforts to redefine what makes a successful work life.

Dickson, 35, will be honored during Goodwill Industries’ annual Delegate Assembly meeting in June in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“I was either going to end up on government assistance or make a way for myself,” Dickinson said. “This award validates the struggle. After I got out the coma I decided that I would stay with God and persevere through the adversity. I have many solitary, heavy moments. Then, I made it to Goodwill to see there are good people. Working for Goodwill has been good for my soul and spirit.”

For the past four years, Dickson has worked as a traffic dispatcher for Goodwill Industries of Houston.

After the accident, Dickson spent 18 months of recovery in the hospital and eight months learning life skills to deal with limited mobility. He then re-enrolled at UT to continue his education, but was unable to attend classes due to difficulties related to his paralysis and he moved back to Houston, to live with his mother. Compensation from the accident allowed him to pursue his own audio and sound mixing business, but the theft of his audio equipment in December 2008 left him without the means to earn a paycheck.

Dick Taylor, a UT alum and football booster who’d met Dickson almost a decade earlier, heard about the theft. Taylor was a friend of Steve Lufburrow, president and CEO of Goodwill Houston, and called him immediately and set up a meeting between Dickson and the CEO.

Lufburrow saw promise in the young man and hired him as the agency’s transportation dispatcher. When he learned Dickson didn’t have a way to get to work, LufburrowDicksonWork enlisted help from others at Goodwill, including Emily Conner, who worked in the Goodwill’s human resources department and was paralyzed in a diving accident. She helped Dickson access the job readiness supports that helped him succeed on the job.

Dickson has also used his experience as a platform for speaking engagements. He said he has spoken to several business groups, Christian schools, and Camp LT, a preparatory academy established by former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson

Interestingly, Dickson said his job allows him to use quarterbacking skills because he has to strategize and dispatch trucks to Houston-area stores.

“The job gives me a sense of accomplishment. I help send the trucks that are delivering products to destinations intended to help people who otherwise would not be able to afford items.”

Goodwill Industries International’s Achiever of the Year is a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or receives services to support employment at a community site.

‘Send your prayers this way’: Rescue effort near completion in Moore

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Onlookers watch as children are pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By Grelan Muse Sr. and Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Twenty-four hours after a massive twister hit Moore, Okla., rescue crews have nearly concluded their search for survivors and victims.Onlookers watch as children are pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Associated Press reported Tuesday at least 24 people were killed when the tornado ripped through the suburban city, which sits just south of Oklahoma City. At least 9 of the dead are children, seven of which attended Plaza Towers Elementary School.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Jayme Shelton, a spokesman for the city of Moore, told the Washington Post. “Send your prayers this way.”

Amy Elliot, coroner with the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office in Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press at least 40 more bodies are expected. She didn’t elaborate as to how many of the deceased were children from Plaza Towers.

The 2-mile wide tornado, which hit Moore the afternoon of May 20, packed winds of up to 200 miles per hour and churned as it sat on the ground for an estimated 40 minutes. Homes in the path of the twister were leveled, and vehicles sat on top of one another.

This is the second tornado to touch the ground in Oklahoma in many days. On May 19, a tornado hit east of Moore killing two people.

Joel Reynalds, son of ASSIST News Services senior correspondent Jeremy Raynalds, lives in the area, said the devastation was “unreal.”

“(I’ve) never) seen anything like it. It looked like a bomb went off,” Joel Reynalds said.

Efforts to help victims of the tornado poured out immediately. According to Jeremy Raynalds, chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have been deployed to Moore to offer support.

“Our hearts are breaking for all of those in the path of this horrific tornado. Words can’t do justice to the pain that is being experienced in and around Moore,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.

“Please pray continuously for all of those who lost loved ones, and for those who may still be trapped amidst the rubble.”

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is deploying in coordination with Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, who is also president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Together the two ministries will seek to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those impacted by the storm.

The threat for severe weather continues Tuesday as severe thunderstorms containing hail, damaging wind gusts, and tornadoes. According to the Weather Channel, areas that should prepare for the severe weather include Dallas, Shreveport, La., St. Louis, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.