On the 21st of December was my birthday. I had a lovely day relaxing with my Mum, my kids, my husband. We didn't do anything real exciting, which was fine by me. I just enjoyed the simple enjoyment of the day, and being spoiled with gifts and love. That evening we headed out to look at Christmas lights, which is a tradition in our family.
We looked up on a website where all the good lights were. We were aware it is the longest day in the year, and so the only dark time we would get would be about 1 1/2 hours, before the lights would start getting turned off as the owners headed to bed for the evening. The light hunting was fun! My kids enjoyed it, I enjoyed it!
Towards the end of the evening, we dropped into a petrol station to get the kids an icecream. As I was getting out the car, I noticed the attendant RUNNING madly around the register and over to the door. As the kids piled out of the car, the attendant had locked the doors and put a sign up saying it was only fuel purchases only. I was annoyed. How rude! Little did I know that God was positioning us for something important.
We had to travel further north to get an icecream, and then head back to the route we were going to take to look at the rest of the lights and head home. That added 15 extra minutes to our outing. And those 15 minutes were going to count. We headed home, tired and happy - then as we were whizzing past homes towards our own home, I turned to look at all the dark homes, and saw flames engulfing one living room of one house. FIRE!! I alerted my husband, who promptly did a u-turn and we headed back. The house looked abandoned, as some of those house are, so my husband pulled out his phone and started to call emergency. "What number is it?" he asked, but my night vision is so terrible, I had to get out of the car and walk across the road to see the number on the mail-box. To my horror I could hear banging and screaming from the inside of the house. There were people stuck inside! All the windows were covered in security screens, locking the tennants in the house. I ran back to my husband and told him to tell 000 that there were people trapped inside, and then I ran back over trying to work out where the banging was coming from. God used my poor eyesight to enable me to hear those people. A man pulled up behind our car, noticing me running across the road franticly and seeing the flames jumped out of his car. I yelled out to him, "There are people trapped inside!!"
By now the whole living room was ablaze and the glass was popping and there were small explosions in the house. He worked out where they were, they were trapped in the adjacent garage, right next to the flames. He opened the door, and out came 3 children, their grandmother, a heavily pregnant mother and the father from a cloud of smoke. I lead the three children and the grandmother out and up to the footpath, the children sobbed and looked back at the flames with terror in their little faces. Something I cannot erase from my mind. The father followed and then collapsed on the ground, metres away from the exploding glass and the terrible heat. I went back for him grabbed his shoulders "Mate you can't stay here, it's too dangerous, you need to get up!" I was alone with him, no one to help me, "Common!! You have to move!" I said more urgently. The heat of the fire was burning my face and I was absolutely terrified! Somehow I managed to get him to hear me, hauled him up and lead him to the footpath where it was safer.
By then the roof had caught alight and I stood with the family as they watched their home burning before their eyes. The fireys arrived within 10 minutes and made quick work of the flames, that by now had taken over half the house. A medic arrived not long after that, and I was able to help him by staying with the father who was shaking uncontrollably with shock, while he assessed the others and treated the children for shock. My husband helped the fireys, relaying the information we had learned from the family, as the family stood by shocked and relatively incoherant. There is gas, but unsure where the mains are, there are pets inside.... I learned as I stood with the family, that it was deliberately lit, someone threw a flammable bomb into the living room, where the father was sleeping, surrounding him in flames. This was then passed on to the fireys who then taped off the whole area.
God really put us in that place at the exact right moment so that lives would be saved, and we could help. Not many cars were driving down the road at that time of night... and it's likely that if we didn't see the flames, no one would have seen it until too late. If we had gotten our ice creams from the first service station, it is likely we would have driven past this house that would still be sleeping and dark - with a fire just about to be lit.
I am so thankful to God to enable me to think clearly, and help these people, in this shocking situation. Even now I look back and think "HOW on earth did we do it?" But WE didn't do it, God did. Every action we did was God. Every word uttered was God. God used my husband and I to show his compassion and his grace to this family. When I comforted the family, it was God showing his comfort. My husband and I felt like HIS instruments that night, and what a very humbling and honoring thing that is.
Please keep this family in your prayers. Losing a large portion of your home right before Christmas is terrible. Please also pray for my children, who watched the whole thing from the car, and are really feeling the adverse affects of it.
And next time something inconvenient happens again, like that service station attendant did... I am not going to complain. God could be positioning me for something else... although I hope it's not as crazy as this last episode!!!