SBTS student tells local TV viewers of God’s faithfulness in wake of encounter with tree

Communications Staff — October 25, 2007

Sean Gould usually returned home from work a certain way, but last Thursday evening, as a system of violent thunderstorms rolled through Louisville, he followed a different route, one that took him up Lexington Road near The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary campus.

A short distance up Lexington Road, Gould’s routine trip home turned into an opportunity to tell all of Kentuckiana about the sovereignty of God—the hard way. A massive tree, buffeted by storm winds, toppled onto Lexington Road just as Gould’s car passed underneath. The tree crushed the front of his car, but Gould was not injured. Three feet further up the street and the outcome might have been profoundly different.

“My first thought was, ‘there is no way that huge tree is falling down,’” said Gould, a master of divinity student at Southern. “I hit the tree and both airbags exploded inside.”

With the tree resting on top of his car, Gould remained inside the vehicle, a wise decision as it turns out, because the tree was also holding down power lines. Soon, firemen arrived and extracted Gould safely from his car.

A few minutes after he emerged from his vehicle, several members of the local news media arrived to interview Gould. The uninjured Texas native took the opportunity to tell several hundred thousand television viewers in metro Louisville about the God who had ordained every aspect of the incident, from the wind that blew the tree down, to the preserving of his life.

A few hours later, on its 11 p.m. news broadcast, WHAS 11 broadcast the full statement Gould gave to its reporter. “God is sovereign, he’s sovereign over the trees, weather, vehicles and life and I rejoice in him and that he chose not to take me home,” Gould told WHAS.

Several other local television stations ran part of his statement and the Louisville’s daily newspaper, The Courier-Journal, quoted Gould: “God is the giver of life. I am very thankful.”

Gould said he wasn’t expecting the media to converge upon the scene. Gould is thankful that God providentially ordained, through the means of a fallen tree, an opportunity for him to give a public witness to God’s mercy and His absolute control of all creation.

“I was very surprised to see that many TV crews there,” he said. “There were probably five of them. I was even more surprised that most of them used the exact words I spoke. Ultimately, I pray that what I said honored the Lord.”

Gould came to Southern Seminary in 2004, two years after completing a degree in finance from Texas A&M. Gould serves as secretary of Clifton Baptist Church and seeks to pastor a local church when he completes his education at Southern. Gould hopes that God will use the words he spoke to the news media to awaken others to eternal realities.

“With circumstances like that you really just want to make people think about biblical truth and eternal reality,” he said.

“You want them to think about life and death and the reality of not being in control of when God takes you home. You want them think less of luck and chance and more of the God who controls all things. You want them to think about if their worldview takes into account these matters. Ultimately, you want to lead them to the Gospel. If I could point them in that direction and show that my hope was in God, I would rejoice. Again, I just pray that what I said honored the Lord.”

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