When the Earth Shakes
by Melanie Hemry
Thursday, January 13, 1994 - Thousand Oaks, California
Brenda Steen stepped into the sanctuary of Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship and sighed with contentment. Although there were no services today, no loving faces and happy voices to greet her, the silent sanctuary was warm and inviting.
Brenda alongside her husband, Arland, had started this church 13 years ago. In those years, they had seen lives changed...families grow stronger in the Lord...children raised on the Word of God. Brenda sat on the steps of the altar praying, her heart rejoicing over all God had done here.
Yet even as she rejoiced, a sense of caution stirred in her heart. What is it, Lord?
In answer, she heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit speak the words He'd been saying repeatedly to her in recent days.
Make much of the blood.
It was a phrase full of meaning for Brenda. Months before, she had listened, enthralled, as her friend, Billye Brim, had described the revelation God had given her about the blood of Jesus. When Billye taught her message at Eagle Mountain International Church (located on the grounds of KCM), Brenda had asked for copies of the tapes and listened to them three times. Then she began the laborious task of transcribing each tape.
In December, 1993, she'd begun teaching the series each Sunday night. She was still teaching the series, but this week, for some reason, there seemed to be a fresh urgency about it. Day in and day out, the Holy Spirit kept reminding her, Make much of the blood.
Prompted by the Lord, Brenda began to pray, her words echoing through the sanctuary. "Father, I plead the blood of Jesus over this building...."
Sunday, January 16, 1994
Pastor Brenda Steen stepped to the podium to preach. Tonight's message would be "The Blood of the Passover Lamb: The Protecting Power of the Blood."
"I taught a great deal from Exodus 12," Brenda explains, "about how the Israelites were instructed to take a lamb for each household. The head of the household dipped the hyssop branch in the blood and applied it to the door post. They weren't to leave the house till morning. In other words, they were to stay under the blood.
"Verse 23 says that when the Lord saw the blood, He wouldn't allow the destroyer to come into their house and strike them. I reminded the congregation how saints in years past used that same principle to pray a line of protection around their property by pleading the blood of Jesus."
"Satan, the destroyer, is hard at work in the earth today," Brenda declared. "Sometimes the destruction he brings takes the form of natural catastrophes. But if we will by faith apply the blood, those catastrophes will not touch us!"
"After the sermon, we were directed by the Holy Spirit to take Communion," Arland says. "Instead of taking it as a congregation, the head of each household led the Communion for their own family, praying a blood line of protection over each family member and their property."
That night before the service was over, Brenda Steen said something the members of Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship would never forget. She said it didn't matter that they lived in California. It didn't even matter if they lived right over a fault-line. "Your family is safe because the blood of Jesus has been applied to your household. A blood line has been drawn...."
Monday, January 17, 1994, 4:31 a.m.
In the darkest hour of the night, while Southern California slept, a previously unknown fault-line erupted, changing the course of lives and the course of geology forever. The earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale, producing a power so great it pushed two mountain ranges higher and closer together, and depressed the valley between them by four inches.
Sixty-one people perished due to the earthquake as megastructures collapsed and highways broke apart like toy building blocks. Original estimates placed the cost of the destruction somewhere between $15 billion and $30 billion. It may prove to be the most costly natural disaster in the nation's history.
Those who survived the earthquake faced a myriad of problems: homelessness...isolation...loss of electricity...loss of water...broken gas lines...fires...and, in the weeks to come, 2,000 aftershocks, some measuring as high as 5.5 on the Richter scale.
Thousand Oaks, Calif., was declared a national disaster area. But the members of Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship made a different declaration. For, when the earthquake was over, each one of them had a story of victory to tell....
"Nothing Was Broken!"
Stuart Schlosser awoke to the shaking and rolling that could only mean one thing - earthquake!
"My first thought was that we had nothing to worry about because the night before we'd prayed for a blood line around the house. But as I bolted out of bed, I heard my children praying a blood covering over my business. My business! I hadn't even thought about it."
At 9:30 that morning, Stuart left home to try and make his way to his Subway Shop located in Northridge. He didn't know then that Northridge sat over the epicenter of the earthquake. He didn't know that a scant mile and a half from his business, one whole floor of the Northridge Meadows Apartments had collapsed, killing 16 people. He didn't know that the University of California at Northridge science building - across the street from his business - had burned and half the dormitories had been destroyed.
"There was a strange glow in the sky," Stuart recalls, "and parts of the expressway were missing. Squad cars surrounded the exit I always took to work.
"All the windows were gone in the Kentucky Fried Chicken near my shop," Stuart recalls. "Every other window was missing from the shopping center. The doors to businesses next to mine were tilted and broken. Then I pulled up to the Subway Shop. Every window was intact. The doors were intact. Inside, bread racks had moved and food had fallen off the shelves in the refrigerator. A couple of ceiling tiles had fallen.
"Nothing was broken. Not a mirror, not a dish. I didn't even lose one light bulb."
"There Was No Fear!"
Keith Wengler's shift at UPS began that morning at 4:30. Keith was standing next to the conveyor belt waiting for packages when the earthquake exploded underneath him.
Panic-stricken people ran in every direction. Some rushed for the door while others hid under the belt. The building shook with a deafening roar. Outside, trucks clanked together. Keith had lived through earthquakes before, but without question this was the worst he'd ever experienced.
In spite of the turmoil around him, Keith could think of only one thing. My family! What's happening at home?
"Just as suddenly as that thought flashed through my mind," Keith says, "I remembered the blood. I prayed for my family. There was no fear. None, whatsoever. I drove home in peace."
When he arrived, Keith found his house and family safe and secure. Although the earth beneath them had trembled and shaken violently, it had succeeded only in moving one picture and knocking over the teddy bear collection that belonged to Keith's wife, Leigha.
"Everything was perfectly intact," Leigha says. "We were protected by the blood!"
"...An Angel Set My Home Down!"
"I woke up at 4:31 a.m.," recalls Jennifer Clark. "My waterbed was thrown up off the floor and half of my mobile home was in the air. I screamed, 'In the Name of Jesus, I pray the blood of Jesus over my children, myself and my house!' "
Instantly, the house settled back in place.
"Then I heard my little daughter, Christina, shout, 'I plead a blood ring around this whole park!'
"The next morning, I saw indentations in a perfect line marking where the trailer had lifted on one end and wrinkled the metal. I believe when I prayed, an angel set my home back down."
Fifty to 90 percent of all homes in mobile home parks were devastated. Yet, in Jennifer Clark's mobile home park, only three were lost. Jennifer believes that those three were damaged first, but all the others were protected by the blood of the Lamb and the word of Christina's testimony.
God Hath Remembered
Aftershocks and violent crime continued to rock the area for weeks after the first quake. Yet even though the danger wore on, the power of the blood didn't wear out. On January 26, nine days after the earthquake, Larry and Suzi Fox discovered that fact for themselves.
The Fox house was quiet as Suzi turned out the lights and prepared for bed that night. She didn't expect Larry home from work until late. As the general manager of a restaurant - the only one in its chain that had remained open since the quake - he had been extremely busy in recent days.
At 11 p.m., Suzi made her usual bedtime check on Chelsea, their 2-year-old. Walking into the bedroom, she was surprised to see Chelsea's wide eyes staring back at her.
How strange. Chelsea isn't usually awake at this time of night. Her spirit suddenly alert, Suzi sensed the warning of the Holy Spirit. Something's wrong. Larry is in trouble!
"Chelsea," she said, "we need to pray for Daddy." Without hesitation, Suzi prayed the blood of Jesus over Larry and called forth angels to protect him. Then she picked up her Bible and prayed Psalm 91, "Father, I thank You that Larry abides under the shadow of the Almighty...."
At 11:15 p.m., Larry was working quietly in his office at the restaurant, finishing up the day's accounts. The restaurant doors were locked, both safes closed and secured for the night.
Suddenly, Larry's office door crashed to the floor as two gunmen stormed in upon him. "Get to the floor!" screamed one of them, holding a pistol to Larry's head.
"Let's kill 'em now!" shouted the other as he shoved two of Larry's co-workers into his office at gunpoint.
Larry lay on the floor with an astounding sense of peace. Praying in tongues under his breath, he listened to the gunmen with calm - until he heard them say something that sent chills down his spine.
"We'll put them in the freezer," one gunman said.
"Oh God, not the freezer!" Larry knew their walk-in freezer was equipped with an internal mechanism allowing the door to be unlocked from the inside. But that mechanism had been broken in the earthquake.
"There were two safes visible," Larry explains. "Most of the money was in the upper safe, but they acted like they couldn't see that one. They told me to open the lower safe."
Larry crawled to the safe and opened it, trying to anticipate their next move. Shockingly enough, there was no "next move." The gunmen simply grabbed the money and left, leaving Larry and the cooks completely unharmed.
Six days after the robbery, Suzi Fox gave birth to their second child - a son. They named him Zachary, which means, God hath remembered.
"The Lord Made a Difference."
Although each story of victory is precious, what is most striking about the experiences of those at Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship is their consistency. These are not isolated incidents. The testimonies reported here could be repeated by every member of Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship for not one of them lost a life or lost a home in the earthquake or its aftermath.
Perhaps even more importantly, they didn't lose the peace and security in their families. Unlike the thousands of California children who were so shaken by the earthquake that they required psychiatric help, many of the children from the Steens' church ended up more confident in God's protection than ever before.
"When the time of calamity came to the land of Egypt during Moses' day, the Lord made a difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites," Arland says. "As time moves forward in these last days, there'll be earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars. But, there will always be a difference between the world and the Church."
That difference will be the blood of Jesus. And it will stand firm even when the earth itself shakes with uncertainty. The members of Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship are rock-solid sure about that.
Editor's Note: In January of 1994, Southern California shook under the devastating power of one of the worst earthquakes in recent years. While many Christians did experience loss and damage, we believe the following story of the members of Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship will build your faith and encourage you regarding God's protection.
God has chosen you to be born in the most crucial time in the history of the world. “Wait!” you might say. “What do I have to offer a hurting world?” I’m glad you asked. Yes, there are wars, terrorist attacks, AIDS, epidemics, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters—BUT God has a secret weapon that He has kept hidden for such a time as this. What is that powerful weapon? It is YOU emerging from the cocoon of your Clark Kent self and becoming everything that God created you to be. This site is dedicated to helping you realize who you are in Christ and how you can release the power of God to a hurting world.