Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Foundations Tremble

March 27 is the 53rd anniversary of the devastating 9.2 earthquake that hit Alaska on Good Friday, 1964. All of my immediate family, except me, lived in Seward at the time. I was away at college in Seattle. For a week, I didn't know if I still had a family. This catastrophic event changed my life. (I told this story in five blog posts entitled, In a Matter of Minutes, Parts 1-5.)

Seward before and after the 1964 earthquake

Ten years later, my first writing to ever be published appeared in March 24, 1974, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel. Here it is in its entirety:

When the Foundations Tremble

Fourth Avenue, the main street of Anchorage, the morning after
At precisely 5:35 p.m. on March 27, 1964, a massive slippage in the earth's crust below Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska began a far-reaching earthquake. Known as the Good Friday Earthquake, it left every city, town, village, and connecting highway within a 300-mile radius in ruins.

Building crumbled, Beautiful residential areas sloughed off into the sea. Streets and buildings sank many feet below their previous level. Bridges were suddenly thrust several feet higher than the crumpled ribbons of highways--if they were left standing at all. Railroad tracks were twisted grotesquely. Ruptured fuel storage tanks belched fire and oily black smoke for days.

A series of gigantic tidal waves, generated by the sudden displacement of the ocean floor, swept entire villages into the Gulf of Alaska. These waves hurled railroad engines like sticks and snapped trees like toothpicks. They carried homes hundreds of yards before smashing them against cliffs.

More than a hundred lives were lost. Thousands were left homeless, including many Assemblies of God families. Thousands more were left without heat in freezing temperatures, with smashed dishes, shattered windows, and broken water, fuel, and sewer lines. Telephone and electric lines were down. Fires burned out of control. Church buildings were destroyed.

Particularly hard hit was the little town of Valdez, nestled among rugged, glacier-filled mountains on a fjord of Prince William Sound. The waterfront vanished completely. Thirty-one longshoremen went to watery graves as the bay swallowed up the dock where they were unloading a ship. L. Duane Carriker, an Assemblies of God missionary, was among those who lost their lives at Valdez.

Valdez before and after the 1964 Earthquake
Earthquakes, tidal waves, and fires turned many areas into a shambles. Yet out of the rubble, courageous Alaskans began to put their world back together. First was the staggering clean-up job. Then divers and surveyors had to determine the stability of the earth before homes, buildings, docks, and highways could be rebuilt.

The people of Valdez were shocked to learn that  their picturesque little town was not on solid  ground as they had thought. Divers exploring  the  coastline below the water level discovered  Valdez was built on a ledge that could break off  into the sea at any time!

 And so it is with men today. Seeking security,  men and women surround themselves with  material possessions, insurance, bank accounts,  family, and friends; but in the time of stress,  they  find they have built their lives on shaky foundations.

Have you examined the foundation of your life and found it shaky and unsure? There is a remedy. The people of Valdez moved their entire town to a safer location five miles away.

Jesus told of two men who built homes--one on the sand and the other on a rock. When the storms came, the house on the sand fell and "great was the fall of it." But the house built on the rock stood firm (Matthew 7:24-27).

Jesus is that Rock, the only firm and lasting Foundation. The Bible tells us, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). You can depend on Jesus. He signed the guarantee with His own blood on Calvary. Won't you accept His offer today? The Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). You can be on a sure Foundation that will never be shaken!

I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past. If you would like to read an account of my experiences in this earthquake, you may enjoy the story I wrote, "An Earthquake Full of Blessings." It is published in a new collection just released from Bethany House Publishers:" Gifts from Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer compiled by James Stuart Bell. Click to view it on Amazon.


  1. Thank you for sharing, still appropriate for today

  2. I glad you enjoyed my post, Deniss. And yes, that truth is still applicable today.