It was a mere thirteen years ago that God seems to have had a word with His People. The news went largely unreported in the secular media, though it contained a story of His wonder-working powers and strong evidence that He exists and has kept up with modern technology.
On a July Sunday back in 2003, “Strange News” had this headline: “LIGHTNING STRIKES PREACHER WHO ASKED FOR SIGN.” Though the subject of the relation between meteorology and religion is beyond my area of expertise—I rely on the learnéd opinions of my colleague Talia la Musa for such items—my curiosity made me click this headline. I came across the following news story, which I emailed to Ms. Musa, who emailed back that she is currently busy working on the problem of purgatory and urged me to form my own opinion of the story.
“Bolt Hits Steeple, Travels Through Guest Evangelist’s Microphone,” reported a journalist at 1:35 p.m. EDT. The journalist’s source was a member of the First Baptist Church of Forest, Ohio. This anonymous member told the reporter that a guest evangelist was speaking on the subject of repentance when, apparently to make a strident point, he asked God for a sign. Soon thereafter, the steeple of the church was struck by lightning, which proceeded to travel through the microphone, blowing out the sound system and “enveloping” the preacher, who (perhaps miraculously) escaped unharmed.
The evangelistic service then resumed for some 20 minutes, at which point some perceptive member of the congregation noticed that the First Baptist Church was on fire. The building was evacuated, apparently without further incident, except for the $20,000 damage.
When asked to report his impressions of this incident, the member in question is said to have called it “Awesome, just awesome!” He declined to elaborate.