When Paul Knight joins the members of Olive U, the group instantly jumps from local cover band to sought-after opener at concerts across the nation. The problem is Paul may not know the Lord as well as he claims.
After a tornado of historic proportions rips through Kansas, an elderly Baptist preacher, Ron Best, faces challenges to his doctrinal beliefs and failure after failure in his ministry. But the Holy Spirit keeps pushing him forward.
Olive U is the story of how God brings these men together for Christmas Eve on the wind-swept Kansas Plains.
10:30 am, Sunday
60,000 feet over south-central Kansas
The atmosphere over south-central Kansas roiled and churned. At the surface, hugging the expanse of flat, green farmland, cool, dry air was pushing down from Canada. Above, warm, moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico pushed back. Clouds formed where the air masses met; vapors condensed out of the tropical incursion. Lightning zigged across the heavens, flashing between building cumulus formations, and thunder rolled across the prairie. As the moisture condensed out of the atmosphere, heat was expended and pockets of supercooled air swirled and rushed toward Earth's surface in icy blasts. This activity increased the rate of condensation; the air became increasingly unsettled. Thunderheads rocketed into the stratosphere.
The first big, cold raindrops evaporated in the dry layer of air underlying the tropical incursion. The first small hailstones, which formed high above in those supercooled pockets, bounced harmlessly amid the crops. A drop or two of rain plopped to the ground. Then, heavy rain fell suddenly, reducing visibility to mere feet.
Where the warmer air overrode the Canadian cold front, the atmosphere rolled like the business end of a combine, spinning horizontally amid the chaos. Whether influenced by the cold down-bursts, the rain, or some unknown force, only God knew, but the rolling columns of wind soon began to stand vertically on end, and the first funnel clouds loomed dark and ominous above the worried creatures below. Fear on Earth blossomed like the dark thunderheads above.
About then, distant weather observers first took notice of the activity as their reporting instruments began displaying troublesome data. This storm was early — early in the season and early in the day. And the speed with which the activity grew in power alarmed the inexperienced observers who were monitoring the equipment for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this Sunday morning. They hesitated, however, before sounding the alarm—wanting confirmation from senior scientists before they caused a needless panic. By the time the first alerts were broadcast over television and radio stations, and the civil defense alarms began to wail in the widely scattered small towns on the Kansas plains, one funnel had touched down, briefly, in an empty field. Minutes later, some of Earth's residents witnessed the birth of an awesome monster.
For a moment, there was silence—no birds, no wind, no rain, no thunder—nothing. The sky took on an odd, greenish hue. Then, day became night—as if someone had flicked a switch. A haunting, low-pitched roar began to build from somewhere. In a few seconds, the sound was like a locomotive that was powered by all the angry bees on earth. In the next flash of lightning, the super-funnel was visible, dropping from the darkness above. Then, the sky opened. Rain fell in a deluge. The wind roared and thunder cracked sharply. The dark outline of the funnel became a tornado of historic proportions, a mile and a quarter across at its base, nurturing winds that left nothing behind.