An unscathed copy of the Bible has been recovered amid the rubble after a massive tornado ripped through downtown Nashville last week. The text, which was unearthed by a group of volunteers from Tennesee Tech, was found opened to Jeremiah 46:27.
The particular passage reads: “Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel.
"I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile.
“Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid.”
One of the students who found the Bible, Lauren Jackson, recalled her experience on Facebook.
She wrote: "As many of you know, a tornado struck Cookeville this week. Our community’s first reaction was to help. I wasn’t planning on posting, but this was too good not to share. As everybody was dragging wood and knocking down the remaining walls I was cleaning the floors. As you can see the floors were completely covered, and as I was about to grab another piece of dry wall I saw something that caught my eye. It was part of a verse buried on the floor.
"I immediately picked it up because i had to know what it said. It was already opened on this page and read, “Do no be afraid— for I will be with you. I will bring destruction on all the nations where I have banished you, but I will not bring destruction on you. I will discipline you with justice, but I will no means leave you unpunished.” Jeremiah 46:28. Absolutely speechless. This is only in God’s plan. This is more proof that God is REAL. He is living and we are living for him. This is only our journey home. He is here people so we shall follow him!!
"This week completely blew me away and opened my eyes. Everything else around us was destroyed, and the Bible was untouched!! I know it’s crazy because I have seen stories like this before, but I’m here to say it is real!! I am more than blown away and have no words. I’m so blessed to be apart of Cookeville’s community."
Another volunteer from the Cookeville area, Jorja Gust, said that she felt the passage spoke to God's promise that the area "will again have peace and security."
“And I felt like that’s what everyone needed to hear because as you can see it looks like there’s no hope here," she added.
Armies of volunteers, many of whom are based out of local churches, have been providing relief efforts to the decimated Nashville community. The tornado, which hit the area without warning, left some 24 people dead and scores more injured. Among those killed was a young Christian couple, Joshua and Erin Kimberline, who passed away alongside their 2-year-old son, Sawyer.
The pair did not have a shelter or basement in their Cookeville property and were likely asleep when the storm struck, giving them little time to escape its path. Many believe that Josh and Erin died while attempting to protect their son from the powerful twister.
The family's funeral took place on Sunday afternoon.
"It's normal to ask questions in these tragic times," best friend Heath Phillips told the Tennessean. "We're confused. We're searching for answers. And we're unsure of everything, searching for anything that helps make sense of all this chaos."
Josh and Erin were active members of the Church of Christ at Colonial Heights, where her father Rodney Pitts is a minister. The couple hosted Bible studies and mentored many younger people in the church. Hundreds showed up to the funeral, with many desperate to sing "Holy, Holy, Holy" -- little Sawyer's favorite hymn.
"Some are probably complete strangers," Jeff Wilson, director of operations for Crest Lawn Funeral Home, said of the vast crowds. "But this family has ties basically all over the country, and people are here from everywhere."
On a GoFundMe page set up to help cover funeral expenses, comments from friends and acquaintances paint a picture of a vibrant family who had a profound impact on many.
“Josh and his family are the most wonderful, kind, and caring folks I have ever met. Bless all of them!” one person wrote. “I went to McMinn Central High School and graduated with Josh. He was a sweet, kind person who deserved nothing but the best life had to offer," another added.
"Thinking of the Kimberlins and Pitts. Josh, Erin, and Sawyer will always have each other and will never be apart or afraid ever again."
Another simply wrote: "Just a fellow Christian, fellow Tennesseean, and also have a young family. Cannot imagine the terror, but grateful for the arms of Jesus holding them now."