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Aug17WedAfter losing their home, a family finds hope amid the ashes. August 17, 2016 by Captain Melissa Mailman
Fire! I woke to the sound of my husband yelling. I rushed into the hallway and found our girls, Megan, nine, and Michelle, four. Megan quickly ran outside. Michelle paused and screamed when she saw the blazing fire licking at the patio door in the dining room. I scooped her up and ran down the stairs and out the door. It was 4 a.m. on January 7.
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I barely remember calling 911, but what I do remember about that night will stay with me for life. I will remember the kindness of our neighbours, who came and wrapped Megan and Michelle in warm blankets, and then took them to their place while Mike and I waited for the firefighters.
I will remember telling the firefighters that we always pray for them when we hear sirens, and that my daughters had just learned why. I will remember a firefighter going back into the house to look for a sentimental stuffed animal for Michelle. Sadly, there was nothing left of her room. I will remember their thoughtfulness in giving the girls special teddy bears.
I will remember our corps sergeant-major and his wife standing with us as we watched our home burn. I will remember how loving our church family was through the whole experience.
We found out later that the fire started in our green bin, where we put what we thought were cold ashes. But the ashes reignited and the green bin caught fire, which spread to the deck and side of the house. By 6 a.m., our home was gone.
You Can't Take it With You
As sad as it was to lose almost all of our earthly possessions, in a way I'm glad we did. It was a good reminder that we can't take things with us and that our focus should be on people. As we escaped the fire, I took the most important “things” in my life with me—my husband and precious girls. Even more than that, our Saviour was with me. His presence was strong.
As an officer, it was strange to be on this end of sadness. I'm used to meeting people's needs, not being the one in need. I have stood with other families as they watched their homes burn, not knowing what they must be feeling. Now I understand how scary the experience is, how vulnerable people feel after losing what seems like everything. Walking through fire has made me a better officer.
Since the fire, we have had many opportunities to share our story and glorify God. We lost about 90 percent of our belongings, so we have been shopping—a lot! We've met many people, and even gained new friends, on these shopping trips. Mike made friends with the manager of a store, a young man who has some faith, but does not go to church. Recently, he and his wife had their first child, and they asked Mike to go to the hospital and pray over their new baby. What a privilege.
At the store where we replaced our furniture, a sales associate asked me what he should tell his nine-year-old, who is terrified of death. Enter the Holy Spirit. I had the opportunity to give the full salvation message. Through our situation, people are hearing the good news of God's amazing grace.
When my daughter asked why this happened to us, we told her that even though God didn't want it to happen, he is using it to make his name known. Our family is growing closer to God and to each other through this trial. What the devil meant for harm, God has turned to good.
What about you? We all “walk through fire,” whether the trial is physical, spiritual, emotional or financial. When trouble comes, you have a choice to make. Will you blame God for your suffering? Or will you let it refine you? Will you “greatly rejoice”? Will your circumstances “result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed” (see 1 Peter 1:6-7)?
Jesus walks with us, even through fire. It's your choice to make him known.
Captain Melissa Mailman is the corps officer at Yarmouth Community Church, N.S.