Tuesday, May 28, 2019 -
So often in our marriage, Kathie and I have seen God bless tremendously through seemingly tragic situations. Yesterday I shared how God blessed us with the lifelong accumulations of antiques and furniture from an English widower, and how God miraculously provided for our first home.
Well, about 3 ½ years into our being in Virginia, and our adoption of two babies (William and Victoria – who are another miracle!), Response Unlimited had grown to the point where Kathie and I couldn’t run it alone anymore. I had to leave my ministry job in order to handle the volume of business God had blessed us with! Our den was turned into an office, replete with an employee. Even though it had its own entry way, employees and visitors had to use the bathroom off the kitchen, which oftentimes didn’t work well with Kathie. So within a year of this, she decided to go out and find Response Unlimited a real office to rent. But Victoria, who was between 1 ½ and 2 years old, was devastated that her daddy was no longer “home.” She would constantly ask her mother, “When is daddy going to come back home?” Plus, we were on a very busy road, with the hospital a few blocks away. So we decided to look for a place outside of the city, with a nice view of the mountains, and a place to have an office that wouldn’t infringe on Kathie’s privacy. This would satisfy Victoria’s mind, we figured. And so, we began a search, utilizing several realtors, but nothing seemed right.
In the meanwhile, I was having to see the chiropractor for my back. One day, he mentioned an old farmer he’d been treating just got his realtor’s license, and so we called him. He met with us, but we were unimpressed. We told him exactly what we were looking for, and the price range, and then for a long time heard nothing from him. Until one day, more than a month later, he called and said, “I found your house.” Sure enough this man had visited dozens and dozens of homes on his own, until he found just the one for us. The home had been sold a bankruptcy auction the prior month and needed a lot of work. But the wife of the man who bought it decided she didn’t want to move. And so we negotiated a great price that was close to half the tax assessment, put our house on the market for nearly double what we paid for it, and had a contract for out asking price almost immediately. God’s hand was truly in it. There was a 2,400 square foot barn we could convert to an office and a 700 square foot smokehouse we converted into a guest house for visiting indigenous missionaries from abroad, which we hosted regularly.
Since the new house was empty, we were able to secure a week’s early occupancy. And Kathie, as efficient as she was, decided we’d bring all the boxes full of our belongings, carefully labeled, and put them in the attic. Then, after the movers placed all the furniture where it was to go, we would unpack what was in the attic, one room at a time.
I called an insurance agent to insure the new place the day both properties were to close, and the day before closing the movers moved all the furniture.
It was getting close to suppertime, and I went to the store to buy some food to grill out. When I came back, the house was surrounded by cars and … fire trucks! The firemen didn’t want to let me in the driveway. Flames were leaping out of the attic, and Kathie was about to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation!
I discovered Kathie was upstairs in a back bedroom making up the bed for us to sleep in, when she noticed the room filling up with smoke, billowing out of the electric outlets and switches. She then heard somebody yell, “Is anybody in there?” She literally had to run through the flames! Our neighbor, who had seen smoke coming up came to tell us not to burn so close to the house and discovered it was the house burning. He and Kathie started taking things out of the house and noticed two men standing there staring at the roof. Jerry, the neighbor, yelled, “Come help us!” and they just kept staring. He called a couple of more times and the men just disappeared!
About the same time, the movers came back, because they’d left the piano in front of an outside door that couldn’t be closed, so Kathie had called them. They cleared out the rooms that weren’t inundated with smoke and flames before the firemen even arrived. The firemen thought they had the fire out and were resting when more flames came out of nowhere. There was another attic we didn’t even know about! A neighbor took our 2 small children to her house for protection. When all the flames were out, everything was black, smelly, and much ruined! But they couldn’t find how the fire started – they said it was electrical – but the electrician said there was no way.
That night, William and I slept on the porch in the midst of the piled furniture! But the next morning, the closing on the other house went on as planned, though we were homeless. To top it off, the owner of the house we were buying came by and told us he no longer wanted to sell us the house and to remove all our belongings. That issue was quickly resolved, because we had a contract which required the house be sold to us in the same condition it was prior to the fire.
I don’t wish anyone to have to go through a fire, because it is devastating emotionally, and you have a lot of things that have sentimental value. But as God worked it out, it was eventually for the good.
You see, there were actually three different insurance companies that covered the property. Our furniture and other belongings were actually covered by our previous home’s policy, and our new policy, because unbeknownst to us, the insurance agent began coverage a week early since we’d gotten early occupancy. The seller’s insurance company and the company holding the new policy battled it out for the cost of the repairs to the structural damage.
In the end, we were able to get the whole house remodeled to our specifications – something we had planned on spending the next year or two doing ourselves at a considerable expense. So God indeed blessed us through a tragic situation. I don’t recommend you get your house remodeled in such a way, but God worked it out to our benefit.