Home > Youth Ministry > Teens Praise God on I-24

Teens Praise God on I-24

10 Years Ago – God showed up at an unusual way and I thought I would share it again.  Deech

Northside’s youth group, trapped for 6 1/2 hours on I-24 by a wreck, led a Praise Service for the stranded motorists.

By Cathy Farmer Reposted from Memphis Conference Reporter

Flatbed

Wet and tired from their rafting trip down the Ocoee River just outside Chattanooga, Tenn., 39 teenagers from Northside (Jackson, TN) United Methodist Church and their eight chaperones piled into their chartered bus for the long trip home to Jackson.

They didn’t get far.

“We hadn’t been on Interstate 24 very long before the traffic came to a halt,” said Dietrich “Deech” Kirk, Northside’s youth minister. “Not long at all.”

But there was no turning around for the trapped bus. A long line of cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles stretched behind them. And the road didn’t have much of a shoulder either. That particular stretch of I-24 winds its way along the side of a cliff. They couldn’t go forward and they couldn’t back up.

Laura Stephenson, 14, said, “When we first stopped it was raining, but when the rain let up, some of us walked down the road to see what had happened. We found out that there had been an accident about a mile ahead. Two trucks were on fire.”

A truck full of frozen chickens had collided with a tractor trailer hauling cars, spewing diesel fuel everywhere. The fiery crash halted traffic for six and one-half hours.

“I was proud of the kids,” Deech said. “They were really cool. They didn’t whine at all.”

Can we have a praise service?

What they did do, in addition to inviting the people trapped by the accident to use the bathroom in their bus and playing with some of the children in nearby cars, was ask Deech if they could hold a praise service.

“We could tell some of the people were getting impatient,” Laura said, “so a bunch of us asked Deech if it would be okay to ask the guy driving the flat bed up ahead if we could use his trailer for a praise service.”

Deech said sure, and the driver agreed.

All 47 of them clambered onto the flatbed, David Hollis and Deech bringing their guitars and Tyler Wolfe pulling out his harmonica. As they started to sing, people gathered around.

“We sang everything we knew,” Laura said. “We’d been to Lake Junaluska for Jubilee Weekend and we’d learned some new songs. We sang those too; songs like Light the Fire, Prince of Peace and Isaiah 43. Some of the songs we learned were weird and wacky,” she said, laughing.

Before long, 25 more kids showed up and climbed aboard the truck. “They were teens from a Church of Christ church in Nashville,” Laura said.

Deech said, “It was really neat. They taught us some of their songs too.

“When we first started playing, people yelled, ‘Do you know any Hank?’ but then they started asking for Christian songs,” he said.

The chartered bus was filled with patient lines of people waiting for the bathroom, the flatbed was surrounded by an appreciative audience.

People who had food began to pass it out to those who didn’t. In appreciation, a few people pressed money for the youth group into Deech’s hand.

The praise service lasted two hours.

“I don’t know how many people we touched that day,” Laura said, in awe of what happened. “Lots of people on the other side of the interstate, where the traffic was still moving, pulled over to take pictures of us. We only stopped when we got word that the wreck was about cleared away and we needed to get back in the bus.”

“What a witness it was,” Deech said. “What a witness.”

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