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Our Spirit Will Not Be Broken: Voices from the April StormsOur Spirit Will Not Be Broken: Voices from the April Storms

Angels In Our Presence
by Kisha Freed

“I don’t know why I’m still alive,” he said repeatedly. He stared out into the distance just beyond the rubble in front of his home. His property, suddenly struck by an irate tornado, just weeks ago, appeared to be razed by war. His worn but steady frame now stood in the front door, recollecting the chain of incidents that led to his life-changing moment.

On April 27, 2011, Robert “Sonny” Leslie experienced what over thousands of people in Alabama experienced, but his story has a twist to it. His story involves—the supernatural.

Sonny remembered going to his front door to look at the sky as the sirens rang out. “I always go to the door and look in this direction because that’s how I can see what’s going on. Usually, I’ll see the clouds and they pass right over,” Sonny said, pointing just beyond the trees to the northwest sky. But this time, something different happened. Sonny felt the urge to close the door and go deeper into the house. “I headed towards the bathroom,” he said. His bathroom wasn’t far from the door, and was sandwiched between his living room and a rear bedroom. Sonny dashed for his designated safe place, but he didn’t make it there. “I ended up in the back room,” he said.

How did Sonny end up in the rear bedroom next to the bathroom? Why didn’t his feet carry him where he had intended? “Well, I was on my way back here to the bathroom, when something pushed me past the bathroom all the way into this back room, and pressed me against the wall!” Sonny explained, “I could not move for about 30 seconds. I don’t know what it was, but if I had been in this bathroom, I wouldn’t be here.” Moments later, the tornado ripped through Sonny’s home. Within a matter of seconds, the roof over the living room and bathroom areas were blown off and trees crashed down into both rooms, leaving only two rear bedrooms standing-- one of which Sonny was guided to take refuge.

Sonny’s neighbors were not so fortunate to be able to tell a story of a miraculous rescue. After Sonny climbed over fallen trees on his property, he scanned his neighborhood to check on his neighbors. His neighbors’ homes--were gone. “After the storm, I went out to the road and saw my neighbor in the field across the street. I asked him why was he over there in the field. He said that the tornado had thrown him over there.” His neighbor had been with a mutual friend just before the deadly twister arrived. They had been trying to get into the house to take cover. But his neighbor lost the friend, and was now asking for Sonny’s help in finding him. “We search and search for [him],” Sonny explained. “We finally found him, and [he] was dead in the front yard. That was one rough evening.”

Sonny spent about 3 days in his destroyed home. He had no insurance and had been retired for several years. As far as he was concerned, his old childhood home was through. “As far as I was concerned, this house could have been bulldozed,” he said. But once again, Sonny’s story takes an interesting turn. After the third day of being in his destroyed home, he climbed out and headed down the driveway. “I heard chainsaws!” he said. It was a volunteer crew of Mission Fields, Inc. clearing trees from another neighbor’s driveway. “They were out in the area just cutting trees,” Sonny said. “So I asked him how much he would charge to clear my yard. He said he would come over and look at it. The next thing I know, I heard chainsaws in my yard.”

But that was not the end of Sonny’s blessings. The head of the crew asked Sonny what he planned to do about his home. Sonny’s thoughts were to just wipe the slate clean and clear the land. But the crew lead had a different vision for Sonny’s home. “I can fix that,” he said. And so, Mission Fields, Inc. made the commitment to rebuild Sonny’s home. Within 5 days of the crew working on his home, Sonny moved in with his sister while awaiting the renovation of his home.

Within a few weeks of the completion of his home, Sonny passed away in 2011. He never got a chance to see or live in his newly renovated home after that dreadful April 27th day. But he was a witness to an invaluable experience that few people on earth may be able to claim: angels are within our presence—here on Earth as well as Heaven.