It took them hours to tame the fire, and it shocked them all to find that the scriptures and crosses were the only items that survived the blaze.
When Rev. Phil Farrington received a call from the fire department on Sunday morning, he rushed to the church where he, along with his congregation used to gather every Sunday. The church that has seen the dedicated presence of the 250-strong congregation every Sunday for several years, was choked with smoke in mere hours. “We rushed out there,” Rev. Farrington told The Washington Post. “I sat down on the ground and cried and watched it burn.”
The flames took over the entire structure, and it took firefighters from several departments to tame the flames and bring them under control. Hours later, they were able to extinguish the fire that had left a trail of destruction behind. Even the walls of the church couldn't be saved from the heavy damage caused by the blazing fire. However, when the firefighters began the search to see if there was anything at all, that could be salvaged from the massive fire, they discovered something that left them in awe and even left Rev. Farrington amazed.
The only items in the church, that was engulfed in a fire for hours, were the Bibles that were kept all over the church.
"Picture this, a building so hot that at one point in time, firefighters had to back out. In your mind, everything should be burned, ashes," wrote the Coal City Fire Department in a Facebook post. "Not a single bible was burned and not a single cross was harmed!! Not a single firefighter was hurt!"
There were several Bibles found in the seat-back pockets and even the Bible that Rev. Farrington would use. And they looked like they were almost completely untouched by the fire. Although the mighty fire was hard to control, the firefighters believed that "...odds were against us, God was not."
While the fire engulfed and ravaged the entire church, the holy scriptures written across nearly two dozen Bibles didn't face any harm. And the same went for the three crosses that showed no signs of a ravaging fire. There were two crosses made of wood, placed inside the church and one cross made of stone, placed on the rooftop. And all three of them were unharmed.
Rev. Farrington believes with all his heart that this is a sign from God. “In the midst of the fire, God’s word will always stand,” he said. Hearing about the fire destroying the church brought a great deal of grief to the members of the congregation. All 250 of them were invited for an evening service that was held in the church's youth building, which was unaffected by the fire.
It was there that the congregation were able to see every single one of the intact Bibles lined up, one after the other, explained Rev. Farrington. “There have been tears,” he said, “tons of tears.” But the sight gave the people immense hope at a time when it was needed the most.
Everyone, including Rev. Farrington, knows that paper is something that can easily turn into ashes when in the midst of a blazing fire. It wouldn't be surprising if many found this a bit hard to believe. The pastor himself has no scientific explanation for why the Bibles survived the fire. He said, “I just sort of grin because it seems to me that paper burns pretty easy, especially when everything around it is burning.”
Even Melinda Bouma, a publisher for Zondervan Bibles who is involved in the yearly production of millions of NIV Bibles that make their way across the world, said, “There is nothing in the production process that would protect them from fire." What crossed her mind on hearing the news were powerful words from the Bible, Isaiah 40:8 which says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
“It burned down, and nothing really survived, but the word of our Lord survived. It gave me goosebumps,” said Melinda.
The post reached thousands of people around the world, some of whom are questioning whether it's true and some of whom are completely amazed by the incident.
“I think it’s amazing that it’s been able to reach people,” said Rev. Farrington, “and to see how many people are being touched by it.”