One of my favorite “true” stories is certifiably true. I had wondered about it over the years but I never managed to find any evidence for or against. Then recently it was confirmed by Snopes.com. How do you explain this?
The choir at West Side Baptist Church met religiously for rehearsal on Wednesday evenings at 7:20. So of course, shock and terror spread quickly across little Beatrice, Nebraska, one Wednesday night when the church furnace exploded at 7:25 PM. The blast quickly leveled the church building, with flames leaping everywhere. The force of the explosion knocked a nearby radio station off the air and shattered windows in neighboring homes.
Fire rescue workers and stunned neighbors descended on the scene expecting the worst. Weren’t there fifteen regular members in the choir? How many charred corpses would they be forced to unearth from the ashes and despair? Much to everyone’s astonishment and relief, the answer was 0.
No one was killed in the tragic blast because on that chill February evening, all fifteen members of the West Side Choir arrived late for rehearsal!
- Royena Estes had planned to leave on time, but her car wouldn’t start. She called and asked her sister Ladona for a ride, but the high school sophomore needed a few more minutes to solve a geometry problem in her homework. They ran late.
- Pastor Klempel and his wife were about to leave at their usual time when she noticed her dress was badly wrinkled. She went back inside to press it, so they left home late.
- Harvey Ahl was nearly always early for rehearsal, but on this evening his wife was out-of-town and he was having fun playing with his two young sons. When he finally glanced at his watch, he was already running behind.
- Marilyn, the pianist, had planned to arrive half an hour early to rehearse a difficult section in one of the songs, but she nodded off for just a moment and over napped. Because she was late, her mother, the choir director, was also slow to arrive.
- And so it went on February 1. One choir member took a nap and overslept. Another felt lazy and decided to steal just five more minutes wrapped up in her blanket. Two were frustrated when their automobiles wouldn’t crank.
So on the night when West Side Baptist Church exploded, not a single choir member was inside the building. All had been providentially hindered by completely unrelated distractions, and everyone was uncharacteristically late.
Some would say they were all just lucky. But the odds of all 15 faithful choir members being late on the very same night would surely be one in a million. It calls to mind the promise from Ephesians 3:20 that our God can do more than we ask or imagine.
Lift up the Cross!