The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 30, 2012

Joplin woman’s tornado-related poster wins national contest

By Rich Brown
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Sheila Prather is living proof of God’s love. After losing her home and most of her worldly possessions to last year’s tornado, the Joplin woman walked away with nothing but a scratch on her leg.

She remains thankful to God for her most valuable possession -- her life.

God’s love and protection came as an answer to a prayer as she withstood the wrath of the storm in her bathroom.

Relating that experience through a nationwide contest, Prather recently received another blessing by being named the winner among more than 1,200 entrants. She received an all-expense paid trip with two of her friends to evangelist Beth Moore’s conference in Lubbock, Texas, as well as a free simulcast of the event to her church, St. Paul’s United Methodist.

The simulcast is scheduled Sept. 15 in the St. Paul’s auditorium, which was destroyed by the tornado, but is expected to be open again to the public earlier that month.

Prather won the contest, conducted through the Christian radio station KOBC-FM 90.7 -- a member station of the K-LOVE network, by putting together a poster showing how she is living proof of God’s love. The poster displayed the Carl Junction elementary school teacher days after the tornado hit, standing in front of what used to be her home at 2414 S. Murphy Blvd.  

The words she penned to go with it: “I am living proof of God’s love because he saved and protected me from an EF-5 tornado.”

The contest idea was taken from the name of Moore’s Living Proof Ministry. The telecast at St. Paul’s will be from Reading, Pa., and known as the Living Proof Live Simulcast. The Sept. 15 event will get under way at 8:30 a.m., with a lunch break two hours later, then continue from noon to 3:15 p.m.

Prather said that when they attended Moore’s conference in Lubbock, the ministry was simulcasting the conference to 11 countries and 48 states.

“These simulcasts are a pretty big deal,” she said. “Churches sign up to host them, and Beth picks a topic to speak about from whatever God lays on her heart.”

Prather entered her poster in the contest a month after the tornado destroyed her home.

Details of the storm will be forever embedded in her mind. She said after hearing that the tornado was bearing down on her, she headed toward her back door to try and reach the safety of her niece’s basement a half block away.

“I opened my back door, heard this ominous roar and thought I am not going anywhere.” she said. “That is when I dashed into the bathroom. Once the noises started getting louder and more deafening, I thought, ‘I don’t have anything to protect myself with,’ such as a mattress, so I just started praying.”

As she walked throughout her neighborhood afterward, she said she was in a state of shock, seeing uprooted trees and roofs of so many homes, including hers, scattered everywhere.

Prather called winning the contest just one of many “God things” that have happened to her since the tornado. People’s generosity have provided her with the things she needed, she said.

“People from out of town and other churches came to help,” she said. “One couple even came in and offered me the use of their truck, then asked to pray with me and gave me $100 before leaving.”