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.

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Based on the success Cullen Jones has displayed in swimming, one would find it hard to believe he almost drowned at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Penn., when he was 5 years old. But, Jones turned the horrific event into a positive. He learned how to swim, and 20-plus years later, he became a gold-medal winning swimming champion in the 50-meter freestyle at the Beijing summer games in 2008.

Jones, 28, the second African American in history to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming (400-meter freestyle with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak, and Garrett Weber-Gale), places his faith, courage, and hard work in a children’s book titled “Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story” (Zonderkidz; $6.99), currently in bookstores.

In the 2012 London Olympics, the North Carolina State University alum will participate in the men’s 100-meter freestyle (July 31 heat), men’s 400-meter relay (July 29 heat), and men’s 50-meter freestyle (Aug. 2 heat) at the 2012 summer games.

Written by Natalie Davis Miller, the book is truly inspirational. Whether it is swimming or in life, Jones wants readers to understand that commitment and trusting in God goes a long way.

Miller said Jones, who lists Proverbs as his favorite book in the Bible, attended church as a teen with his father and mother, the late Ronald Jones and Debra Jones. Although he is unable to attend church on a regular basis, Cullen Jones still devotes time in his schedule.

“I call on religion in every aspect of my life, whether I’m at the OIympic Games representing the USA or about to get on a plane to an event,” Jones said.

In the chapter “Finding Faith,” Miller said Cullen Jones keeps faith at the core of his daily life.

Jones also addresses the stereotypes about African American swimmers which exist. In chapter 12, “Make a Splash with Cullen Jones,” Miller describes how Jones came to create his swimming initiative, Make a Splash With Cullen Jones. In August 2010, Jones was taken aback by the drowning of six African American children in the Red River in Shreveport, La. This event prompted the gifted swimmer to partner with the USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips to help minorities across the country learn how to swim. In addition, Jones provides free to low-cost swimming lessons to children.

“Speed to Glory” is a simple read with a strong message: honor the steps His has provided to you, work hard, and always give back to others.