By Chuck Darrell
It happened in 30 seconds - maybe less.
In July of 2000 I was on a Sr. High missions trip when the rear of our van burst into flames traveling on a freeway outside of Nashville, TN. Thankfully we were able to pull over and get all 15 students/leaders out before it was completely destroyed. I will never, ever forget standing inside the van looking out through the black/red flames closing like a curtain on our escape.
My daughter directed attention to her best friend who had been sleeping under a bench seat when the fire broke out. She became trapped in the panic to escape but was eventually pulled to safety as the rug began to burn.
Eventually only three of us remained - me, my daughter and her friend David. My daughter froze in front of the flames and we had to throw her out. (Thank you David, you helped save my precious daughters life. I am forever grateful.) All three of us were burned as we jumped through the flames. David was last and remembers standing with flames all around him but not getting seriously burned.
I recall getting "licked" (thats what the firemen called it) by the flames as I jumped out the door and tumbled down a hill. When I came to my feet I looked back to see the van completely engulfed in flames.
Tragedies like a burning van and the I-35W bridge collapse make us realize that we don't know when we will meet our maker. Please, make your peace with Him now.