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The Word on the Week

Farm Fatalities.

A week has passed since the unthinkable accident occurred on the Spence family farm at Hillsborough. The awfulness of the incident is heightened by the romantic misconception that farms are places of tranquillity and beauty.

The more usual causes of farm death, such as being gored by a bull, almost seem noble but to be drowned in slurry along with your two sons enters into the realm of science- fiction like exaggeration.

Apparently the manhole to the slurry pit had been opened and the pet dog had fallen in. The pit would have been around 10 feet deep with some 3 to 4 feet of slurry in the bottom. The eldest son Graham got a ladder and climbed down to rescue the dog but was overcome by fumes. His father Noel, seeing Graham in difficulty went down to assist him and he too was rendered unconscious, the methane and other lethal gases having displaced oxygen in the pit.

The youngest son Nevin tried to save them but became the third victim to the fumes. Their sister Emma went into the pit and, with some assistance from neighbours was successful in retrieving her father’s body. She went back down again but was unable to reach her brothers before she herself was overcome by the fumes and had to be pulled out by neighbours.

Mercifully she recovered in hospital and was able to give a moving tribute to the dead loved ones in the Ballynahinch Baptist Church last Thursday.

What comfort can we get from the Bible in the face of such tragedy?

The Christian understanding is the Christ loved us so much as to die for us,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”

St John Chapter 15 verse 13. The Spence’s self sacrifice exemplifies this text.

Others may ask, “Could God not have prevented it?” The implication is that God could but chose not to. Like Justin Hayward the songwriter we ask why?

“Why do we never get an answer

when we are knocking at the door?

With a thousand million questions

about hate and death and war?”

If death was the end, evil would have won. However the miracle of the new birth brings with it a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Peter Chapter 1 verse 3).

Hayward’s song ends with these words:

“I’m looking for a miracle in my life.

I’m looking for someone to change my life.”

God’s answer to evil in this life is a cross and an empty tomb. Christ has completed His work. The miracle comes when we yield our lives to Him for time AND eternity.

“Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” St Paul in 1Corinthians 13 verse 12.