Listen: Katrina Roe chats to Alison Murray. Above: Alison, her family and friends eat a meal in the church where they sheltered for two nights as Cyclone Debbie came through Mackay.
Holed up in a church building in Mackay, Alison Murray and her friends and family sang songs of praise to God while they waited out the dangers of Cyclone Debbie this week.
The Ipswich mum, along with her husband and children, were holidaying in North Queensland when Cyclone Debbie began heading towards Mackay. Urged by authorities to evacuate the area they were staying in, Alison and her family took refuge in a local church located in a flood-free area, with their local friends, their combined seven children, and a local doctor.
Chatting to Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe, Alison (inset, with husband Nathan) described their impromptu ‘church-camp’, which made the holiday a very unusual one. She said her first night sheltering in the church was an anxious time, listening to the persistent winds that were blowing rooves off houses in other parts of town.
“This building is a sturdy brick building but has louvred windows, so that was my concern going to bed—that feeling of rising anxiety looking at my kids sleeping there and you couldn’t quite get away from all those glass windows everywhere,” she said.
“I was feeling that irrational anxiety, and found it hard to sleep…the winds have just persistently been going and going… but waking up it was a relief to find everything still intact.”
Mini Church-Camp While Storm Blew Overhead
On their second night in the church Alison said she felt a lot more peace despite losing power, having spent time praying and worshipping God.
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“We have some friends here and we prayed together, just choosing to be thankful and give thanks in all circumstances, knowing that that’s really how God wants us to be and that he’s promised us his peace when we do that,” she said. “So I did experience peace. [But] it was one of those things where you had to keep going back and changing your thought patterns again.”
“We sang the song Indescribable, where it talks about God being ‘untameable’…the words had more meaning.”
“We all sat around with a guitar and were singing like a real church-camp type of vibe, sharing stories. That was a really lovely night, feeling a lot of genuine thanks to God for everything that he is. And we sang that song Indescribable, where it talks about God in nature being ‘untameable’, and the words did have more meaning when you have just recently remembered how tiny we are, and how vulnerable in comparison to him and his power.”
Alison said the experience made her both thankful, and more compassionate for those who suffer from the forces of nature without somewhere to shelter.
“I can imagine how terrifying that would be,” she said.
Her friends were thankful to discover their own Mackay house had remained intact through the storm.