HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (BP) – Standing alongside other engineers, Radon McKinney knew something was wrong as he watched the Space Shuttle Challenger ascend from the launch pad on Jan. 28, 1986.
“I could see it,” he says. “A flame came out of the booster rocket, and I cringed. I knew it was going to fail before it even blew.”
It was a tragic lesson in how a lack of attention to detail can cost others. At the time, McKinney worked at a company contracted by NASA to construct the bolts holding in place the ill-fated O-rings. The failure of those rings in the frigid Florida morning set off a chain reaction that cost the lives of all seven astronauts, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.
The details play a part in McKinney’s testimony, too. He joined a gang at age 11, but was saved in his teens. Rebellion came, and so did drug and alcohol addiction while serving in the army, getting his engineering degree, designing parts for F16 jets and fighting (and joining) a motorcycle gang. It came to a head with a muddy nap under an El Camino.
“I had been released from a mental hospital in Pompano Beach, Fla.,” he says. “It was raining, so I climbed under the El Camino and slept. I woke up sick and busted and held my hands up to the sky and said, ‘Help me.’”
Details lead people to a place of brokenness, a place where grace abounds. That’s what McKinney and his co-pastor, Chris Lohman, want others to see at The Garage, a congregation meeting on the campus of Huntington Beach Church in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“We both come from backgrounds on the lower end of the social scale,” says Lohman, a mainstay of the Southern California punk rock scene in the ‘90s as a guitarist and vocalist. “We understand people who have no money, have been abused, have been hurt. We know what that’s like and want The Garage to be a casual environment people can be a part of.”
That environment includes hearing about the redemption found in Christ. Growing up in the Orange County city of Santa Ana, Calif., McKinney describes his father as “a really mean guy” who became a Christian. Later he became a missionary and pastor and began a print shop, using it to print Bibles that would be sent to China.
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Source: Baptist Press