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Twist of Faith

After their home was destroyed by a tornado, the Hanning family finds their path to faith.

Christopher Hanning slammed through the front door on the evening of September 16, 2010 to warn his grandmother that there was a tornado in the front field. "We ran down to the basement in the roar, and seconds later, it was over," recounts Fauna, his grandmother. In Athens, Ohio, the sirens were deafening, warning people to get to a safe place. Deep in the country 'holler' on Matheny Road, no one expected a tornado to dance over the hills.

If you are in bad enough need that you are going to ask God for something, be prepared, it's going to change your life. —Kenny Hanning

Only a few miles out of town, Christopher's father, Kenny Hanning, worried for the safety of his wife and grandson. Kenny's path down Matheny Road was blocked by mangled trees & telephone wires that looked like electric 'eels'. He was forced to set out on foot to reach his home. The setting sun cast shadows of broken stumps, jagged at the edges. The light was quickly disappearing. Kenny hastily climbed over branches and the litter of people's homes, down the street into the darkness.

His path ended at a broken, twisted tree lying clear across the road. "I came upon a large tree and I couldn't see. I stepped back. I had three little thoughts to myself, 'God, I need a light.'" Kenny turned to his right and recalled seeing a solar panel lawn ornament less than 15 feet away him. For him, it was a shining beacon nestled between branches. "How was it that I didn't see the light before that?" he wondered. Kenny had not been particularly devoted, and had not asked God for anything since he stopped going to church as a young boy. He felt as though the light in the trees was a sign, a gift he followed down Matheny Road and eventually to a renewed faith.

A three-mile stretch of homes and trees were left in ruins that night, but the spirits of Kenny Hanning and his wife Fauna were not. After talking one night about all the church groups that had helped them clear the wreckage from their home, they decided that they needed to do something in return. They needed to go to church.

Though their house lay in shambles, they were thankful for their lives. On the first day, Kenny stepped into the church that he attended as a child. He was surprised by the sincere and astonished reception of the crowd to his story of 'the light.' "I didn't know that what I would have to say would affect people that way," his deep voice cracks and tears brim the edges of his eyes, "I was just telling them what brought me there."

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