Home Christian News ‘Hallelujah Territory’—Oklahoma Baptist University Sustains Severe Tornado Damage But No Injuries

‘Hallelujah Territory’—Oklahoma Baptist University Sustains Severe Tornado Damage But No Injuries

Oklahoma Baptist University
Screenshot from Twitter / @shannynigans2

Tornadoes that tore through central Oklahoma the night of April 19 claimed at least three lives and caused destruction, power outages, and road closures. One site that suffered severe damage is the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) in Shawnee.

At an April 20 press conference, OBU President Heath Thomas gave an update about the campus and expressed gratitude that people were unharmed. Although assessments are still underway, he said, the tornado “impacted every building on campus.”

As for the news that no one was injured or killed on campus, “Where I’m from, that’s kind of hallelujah territory,” Thomas added.

Oklahoma Baptist University Sees Worst Natural Disaster in School History

President Thomas told reporters the tornado was the “worst natural disaster” in Oklahoma Baptist University’s 113-year history. The alum said he loves the school and its people and knows how many “incredible memories” the campus and buildings hold for everyone. “But buildings can be rebuilt,” he emphasized, adding that doing so will take time.

The school’s safety protocols and shelter procedures were effective and followed, Thomas reported. Structural engineers are on campus to assess the safety of every building, and disaster relief is already on site. Thomas thanked local and state officials as well as alumni for the “unbelievable outpouring of support” the school has already received. “We welcome your prayers,” the university also tweeted.

OBU canceled classes for April 20 and 21. After safety assessments are completed, administrators will make decisions about the rest of the school year. Thomas assured students they will have finals and will finish the semester, even if they need to go online to do so.

Some students who live on campus were relocated, and everyone is being asked to stay inside for now. One parent of an OBU student tweeted photos of the damage, writing: “My daughter said ears popped as tornado went over.”

OBU invested in mental health services during the pandemic, Thomas added, and counseling is available for students as well as community members. “We love these students,” he said. “We love this place.”

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Is Already at OBU

The morning of April 20, Jason Yarbrough, state director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, posted video from the OBU campus. “Know that your disaster volunteers are stepping into action,” he said. “We’ll have teams on this campus today and in the Shawnee area for days and weeks to come, as well as across our state, as we provide the help and hope and healing that we can bring, as we become the hands and feet of Christ.”