Tuesday started normally for our family. I (Jason) was in Phoenix with the younger two kids (Angie and David) leading a board meeting for the Association of North American Missions. I first became aware of the fire danger via a friend’s Facebook post. Then Sarah began to text me and call me, and—almost before I knew it—I was heading north to get Sarah, Abby, and Lizzy, leaving the vice-chair to finish the board meeting. Thankfully, our family has been together at the conference hotel here in Phoenix since Tuesday.
The high winds took a fire that was small and miles away from our home and blew it onto our property in just a few hours. See here for Sarah’s telling of her experiences:
It is a joy to write back and tell you of the amazing things God is doing! The first miracle was just Lizzy and I getting away. We were at school (our once-weekly homeschool community day) on Tuesday when we got the evacuation notice. The fire had come up that morning, but we were unaware. The two of us raced home to pack some clothes, save some valuables, and get our pets. As we approached the house we took pictures and sent them to Jason. The fire was probably a mile from the house.
Within 10 minutes the fire was in the backyard as the winds were very high. We weren’t able to grab much more than the animals before the smoke was so thick, that I had to put my shirt over my head to make it to the car. There were horses and trailers all up and down the road, people saving total strangers’ livestock.
I thought for sure our house would be gone. To His glory, God saved our home and if I have ever doubted the power of prayer, I have no reason to doubt now! Our hearts turn to our neighbors now as homes on both the right and left of us are gone. We are trying to return today to see the damage, as our area has burned through, and the fire has moved north.
Thank you for praying for us. God is already using this story to reach our lost friends. Love to you all!
We all expected our home to be burned to the ground but have photo confirmation that the home is still standing (pictured to the left; taken Wednesday 4/20). The fire was on three sides of the house (east, south, and west). You can see the burnt bushes in the front of the picture. It is a miracle that the structure seems untouched.
Our family has been greatly encouraged by the outpouring of love and support of God’s people. We are overwhelmed by the number of people that are praying and offering to help. We have had a “peace that passes understanding”, which I know is in response to the prayers of God’s people. And the faith of our children is INCREDIBLE. They are all trusting in the Lord and leaning on Him (and each other). And a couple of them even admitted they were looking forward to having to walk and witness by faith in the suffering of having our house burn down! Wow. Sarah and I praise God for the vibrant faith of our children.
We are heading back to Flagstaff today to assess the damage and plan for our next steps. It will be 1-2 weeks (or more) before we can be back in our home, but have a good insurance policy that will take care of us—and clean our house—in the meantime.
Please pray for us in these ways:
- Pray for our lost neighbors. These events have opened doors of relationship with our neighbors
that I’ve been praying for over the last decade. When we moved into the neighborhood in 2010 it
was right after the Shultz fire and flood, and we were outsiders, given that we hadn’t experienced
the “trauma” that the rest of the community had. We were also the only believers we knew of,
but several other believers have moved in since. So pray that we would be salt and light in these
difficult times, especially to the next-door neighbor that Sarah has been sharing the gospel with,
who is “moving towards” faith in Jesus. At the suggestion of a neighbor, I’ve started a Facebook
group for our neighborhood, which has already connected us with neighbors we’ve known about,
but not known.
- Pray for Sarah and Lizzy. The fire was just 100 yards away from them on Tuesday, which was a traumatic experience. And pray for the rest of our kids too. The picture above was taken Tuesday night (at Walmart to buy clothes for Sarah and Abby, who only had the “clothes on their back”), just an hour after we all reunited. You can see the sadness and shock in everyone’s faces.
- Pray for Abby. Abby’s surgery in Denver did NOT provide definitive answers, and her pain is worse now. Being “homeless” is especially difficult for her with her physical pain. And we need the Lord’s direction on the next steps.
I’ll close with yesterday’s Facebook post:
To prepare for the possibility that our house was burned down, I’ve been meditating on Habakkuk 3:17-19:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
The “stuff” that really matters is not “stuff”…it is relationships. Relationship with God–through Jesus Christ–and relationship with family and friends.
“Living life looking past death’s door…”
Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.
The Koppen Family