Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day of Tragedy

Tuesday was full of tragedy. Two events occurred that make the soul ache in remorse for displaced families. Two sweet families saw their houses fall away with painful finality, and it was my privilege to hurt with them for a time.

The first such event was the closing of a church in Fate, TX that I really wanted to succeed. Like Woodcreek Bible Church, it too was a conservative/contemporary outpost for the missio Dei to advance in our community. It was pastored by my friend Clint, who, in my brief interaction with him before then, was a real pleasure to be around. We seemed to share similar passions for reaching the City of Fate with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also had similar philosophies of ministry. I so enjoyed talking to others about a like-minded church being right downtown Fate. When Clint contacted me to inform of their closing, I was not pleased at all. In addition, he generously donated to our church a great deal of the materials they formerly used in ministry. Nearly six hours was spent in moving furniture, equipment and materials from his building to ours. The donation of such a cache was pleasing, but the circumstances were sobering. It represented a great loss to the community that one less church such as Clint's is operating here.

How tragic a thing it is to see a church close. How epically wrong to watch the work of God seemingly suffer a "setback." For reasons which seem good to Him, God allows such unnatural evils to befall a community. A church closes down. Families are displaced. No more singing in glorifying praise will emanate from that location for now. The preaching of the Word of God will not resonate within its walls (unless another church were to come use it). Lives may go on, but the collective life that happened in this place is gone.

Immediately after taking the last load of stuff from Clint's building (which once housed East Lake Fellowship), my pager went off. A house fire in eastern Rockwall County was summoning several local fire departments (including Fate Fire Rescue - for which I am Chaplain). When I heard on the pager that a house fire was in progress, it was likely a family needed ministering to. I was right. After stopping by my house to change and grab my gear, I proceeded to the fire scene. The house was fully engulfed in flames. Five fire departments were present with my Chief in command. I asked a Rockwall County Sheriff deputy nearby where the family was. When he pointed them out, I approached them to try to be of some comfort. As their whole family and friends gathered around, I prayed for them and the tragic loss they will have to trust God through.

Oh God, how tragic a thing it is to watch a home burn down. What a hideous evil wrought upon the world when a family suffers such a setback. For reasons which are only clear to Him, God allows such sufferings to befall people. A house burns down. A family is displaced. No more birthday parties, Christmas mornings, family dinners or fun games will occur at that location for quite some time (even if they rebuild in the same location). Mementos that enshrined family memories are burned up or melted away. Theirs lives will go on, but all the things that facilitated living there before are gone.

Fate Fire & Rescue cleared the scene (meaning we all left) at 2 a.m. A tragic day that started the pain of loss at around 3 in the afternoon, ended at 2 in the morning. The parallels between a church closing and a house burning will haunt me for a while. Amazing that I witnessed them both, up close, back to back like that.

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