Written by: Erin Georgiou
Article source: JOY! Magazine

Living at the foot of a mountain can be beautiful, but it can also be terrifying. My husband (Tony) and I live in a housing estate that borders the nature reserve on one side, and a wine farm on the other. On Friday 10th June we received a message that a fire had broken out at the neighbouring wine farm. Our estate manager was not too concerned, as the fire was relatively far away from us and the fire department had deployed their resources. By the end of day, the fire was seemingly under control and no one was too concerned. That night, we fell asleep peacefully, not knowing what would soon take place as the wind silently picked up.

The fire stopped at our boundary. Nothing of ours was burnt or damaged

Our house in the smokey background

An urgent evacuation
At 5am the next morning, I woke up to Tony’s phone ringing. The security manager of our estate was calling to inform us that the wind had picked up and the fire had spread rapidly overnight; it was now at the border of our estate, less than 400 metres from our house. All that was between our house and the flames was an area of fynbos. We were told to evacuate, immediately. Everyone dreads a call like this. We quickly packed a bag, emptied our safe, and gathered our pets. The smell of smoke was already in our house, and a mild sense of panic had set in. This was the first time that we had ever had to evacuate our home; was this the last time that we would stand inside it? These thoughts raced through my head, and I prayed to the Lord for protection.

“When you walk through the fire, you will not be burnt; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” – Isaiah 43:2

There is a wooden bench, right up at the top of the estate, hidden amongst all the fynbos. Over the years it has become my prayer bench. It was situated right in the heart of the fire. All the other benches on the walking paths were burnt, but imagine my joy to discover this bench had been untouched by the fire. Just look at the photo, surrounded by burnt bushes. What a testimony!

Crying out to the Lord
As I drove away, I called my pastor friend and informed him of the situation, asking him to pray for us. I picked up my phone and opened my Bible app. This was the verse for the day, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burnt; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour” – Isaiah 43:2. What a prophetic Word in season! I was totally overwhelmed with gratitude, my heart just swelled.
I burst into tears. The Lord couldn’t have been more clear. With that in mind, I felt His incredible peace.

A drastic flare up
A few hours later, the fire had started to die down, and although it had burnt close to our estate border, it had not breached. We were told that we could go home and that the risk had passed. My husband popped out for lunch with our daughter (Gillian), and I decided to take a nap on the couch… I woke up to 10 missed calls from Tony, and immediately called back. “Erin, get out the house! The fire is right there!” I jumped up and looked out the window, huge flames were in our garden – only 3 or 4 metres away from me. Tony and Gillian were racing home from their lunch, but I was all alone. The wind was gusting, bringing the fire closer and closer. Again I ran, grabbing our pets, and I jumped in the car to evacuate. Although the fire was closer this time, and the risk was far greater, I had immense peace from the Lord because of the scripture He had given me earlier.

The fire came right up to our house

A blazing fire
As I drove out, I looked back and saw huge black clouds billowing over the roof. I passed my husband, my sons-in-law, as well as fire engines. I parked down the road and sat in my car with my dog and my cat, praying. For hours and hours the firefighters were in our garden, defending our home. The flames were roaring, the air was unbreathable due to all the smoke, and ash was covering every surface. I remained so calm and kept remembering the scripture I had read earlier, what a confirmation. Eventually, by God’s grace, the fire started to die down as the sun started to set. The fire had burnt everything in its path, but not our home. We were exhausted, we had headaches, and our bodies were aching, but our spirits were high and our hearts were overwhelmed with gratitude. As He had promised, the Lord had protected us. Always turn to God first in your hour of need and, if possible, read His Word for affirmation and direction in the situation. The Lord’s peace surpasses all understanding.

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Date published: 31/01/2022

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