Late Thursday night just after 10:30 pm, I heard the sirens of a fire truck on our street and quickly began praying a Hail Mary as I was always taught to do whenever I heard sirens. Moments later, I heard so many sirens that I couldn’t tell how many there were. So I grabbed a sweater and ran outside to see smoke billowing from the front door of a house across the street. I automatically had a very sick feeling in my stomach and began imploring Christ and begging for His mercy over and over again. Then, I watched, along with many other neighbors, as firefighters brought two people – an adult and a baby – out on the front lawn and began administering CPR. I knew the family had three children, all under the age of ten, including an infant baby. After nearly twenty minutes of compressions, the paramedics took them to two different ambulances. I prayed and prayed, mostly saying the name Jesus over and over again along with the Hail Mary but knew that in reality they were still doing compressions for all the neighbors who were watching, not because it would help. We were all very concerned for the mother and the two other children. A couple of the neighbors thought they saw a child on another gurney but my dad insisted that it was equipment. About an hour later the Grand Rapids Press reported one fatality and that the medical examiner was on the scene. We assumed it was the husband, who’s a youth pastor, but we weren’t certain. It also reported that the baby had lived. Myself, my sister, dad (who were also outside) and the next door neighbors were relieved and thanking God! The neighbors were the ones who had spotted the fire, called 911 and banged on their doors.
We were still concerned about the mother and two other children and waited around. Our next door neighbor was calling and texting the mother, but couldn’t get a hold of her. We were worried for them but were praying that she and the other kids weren’t home. Another hour later, it was confirmed that it was the husband had died. We also found out that the wife was in Florida with the two older kids. We were so relieved! As devastated as we were at the passing of the husband, at least everyone else was spared.
About twenty to thirty minutes later, the husband’s family arrived at the house. (I knew it was them because they looked exactly like him.) His sister ran up to us asked about her brother. She said that they were told the baby had died but other than that, no one was telling them anything about her brother. I grabbed her and wrapped my arms around her, and my sister’s and our next door neighbors’ eyes filled with tears. She begged us to tell her, that she could take it so we all shook our heads and told her that he had died. It was an incredibly heart breaking moment. She held on to me, and we all gave her our condolences along with promises of prayers. Her response was: Well, we know that they are in a better place, they are in heaven. We don’t know why God wanted this but it must be His will. We agreed and again promised to pray for her and her parents who were talking with one of the firefighters. She asked that we especially pray for and support her sister in law who now has lost her husband, her baby & no house to come home to.
She left us to join her family and that’s when it hit me that the baby had died. My neighbor had the same realization. We both hugged each other and wept for their loss. Other family members arrived so after a three hour vigil, praying as we, the neighbors, watched the firefighters put out the fire and fight to save two precious lives, we went into our homes to give them space as they mourned their tragic loss.
As I finish this it’s 2:30 AM here in Michigan, and they are still out in the cold, mourning. I wish I could do something. Before I came inside, I showed them where I live (they are parked in our driveway) and told them to get me if they need anything. But beyond that, right now all I can do is pray.
Please join me in prayer for this faithful family!
“Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon them. May all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in Peace. Amen.”
Grand Rapids Press: Youth pastor at Crossroads Bible Church, infant son, are victims in a fatal house fire ”On Sunday he literally gave one of the most passionate talks he’s ever given. He laid it all out. His talk was about laying it all down, lay it out for God. I don’t think there’s a better sermon he could have given about sharing faith with people. He’s a man of God for sure.” – One of his teens
-The cause of the fire was electrical and the deputy fire chief said that there were no working smoke detectors in the house.