Remembering the OKC Bombing

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  • Today is the thirteenth anniversary of the domestic terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in which 186 people were killed and more the 800 people were injured.

    I was in the city that week, preaching for Pastor John Reed Jr. and the Fairview Baptist Church during the annual Oklahoma City simultaneous revival. I was still recovering from Easter weekend. I was suffering from jet lag. I was trying to get into a rhythm of the multiple services during the OKC simultaneous revival. I was catching up with family and friends who live in Oklahoma City. And I had stayed up quite late (or early) the night before. 

    I was still in bed at 9:03 AM, when the bomb exploded. My hotel was about ten minutes from downtown. But it was so powerful that it rocked my hotel like an earthquake. I jumped up and went to the door, looking down the hall to see if people were rushing out of their rooms. I didn’t see anyone. So I got back in the bed. A few minutes later, my phone rang. It was my mother, calling to check on me. Still half sleep, I told her that I must be really tired, because I thought I had just felt an earthquake in Oklahoma City. She told me it was no earthquake. It was a explosion. I turned on the television and, sure enough, the local news stations were already reporting that the federal building had been bombed. I opened the curtain in my room and could see the smoke rising in the distance.

    The afternoon service that day was supposed to be held at downtown church. It was to be a special service, in that the meeting had not been held at this location in some years. But those plans were quickly changed – the intended meeting place had been damaged in the blast. Yet the revival went on. It was an overwhelming experience. The eyes of the nation were focused on Oklahoma City. The the city was in a state of shock. But the local churches continued to meet to pray for revival, healing, and strength for the city. Of course, the work of the local churches was not given much attention that week.

    But the Lord was at work. Many of the participating churches had members who were either killed or injured in the blast. If fact, when I left town five days later, my host church was still awaiting news about one of their leading members. It was a difficult time. But I remember how Christian people in Oklahoma City came together to worship, pray, encourage one another, and serve their city. The press didn’t pay it much attention. But the Lord saw it and was glorified.

    I preached the late-night mass service on Friday night of that week. I preached a message from Galatians 6:9 that I called, “Just In Case You Get Tired.” I really wanted to encourage the weary and worn-out saints of OKC, that you do reap what you sow. And the fact that they had sown to the Spirit would not be unrewarded. However, the harvest does not happen in a hurry. In due season you will reap a harvest, if you do not lose heart. I believed that promise then. And I believe it even more now, thirteen years later.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.