By Lemuel Leong

Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10b).

When a person is faced with a shocking incident, there might be those who will ask why such an event happen; leading to all sorts of speculations. Maybe this person is punished by God for his/her transgression? Maybe due to this? Or that?

Job experienced such a situation, yet he showed an exemplary behaviour that we can emulate today. This is not to be taken merely as a saying but as an application.

Last Saturday night, 3 July 2021, we were shocked by an event that happened suddenly. In a blink of an eye, a fire broke out in our house.

At that time, my wife and I were at Tinuhan Church’s quarters as I was assigned to conduct an online seminar (the signal was better at the preachers quarters). Upon concluding the first session of the seminar at 8pm, we heard the extremely distressed voice of our neighbour (Mrs Dn Yosafat) asking, “Is there anyone in your house right now? Your kitchen is on fire!” Out of fear, my wife rushed out without waiting for me. Together with sis Jessie, she quickly ran towards our house. I followed and found the fire had flared up. There were many church brothers trying their hardest to put out the fire without concern for their own safety. While the sisters and children were earnestly praying with tears on the balcony of Pr Matthew’s house, asking for God’s mercy to extinguish the fire. At the same time, Mrs Pr Yosua was praying and trying to contact the fire department.

The most crucial moment was when the fire reached the front door with our car still parked there. The car keys were in the house and we couldn’t get them as the fire was too big. Thank God, the car door was not locked and the brothers were able to push the car away after pressing the emergency button on the gear box. And with that, the first moment of danger was resolved. With the car out of the way, the brethren were able to move more freely and faster.

The fire continued to burn the ceiling and started on the curtains as well as the household items in the house.

Two matters that were the most worrying at that time were one, if the fire was to spread to the wet kitchen, there is a cooking gas cylinder that is flammable at high temperature. The brothers had to break the padlock on the grill door in order to prevent the fire from reaching the kitchen.

Thank God, the raging fire was successfully extinguished around 40 minutes after that. However, a brother’s hand was wounded by a sharp glass shard. When the fire was burning our bedroom, my wife was very distressed because a member had just passed to her a large amount of cash offering received on that Sabbath. Dn Yosafat worked hard to get water from a tank and pass it on to the other brothers to pour on the fire. It turned out that the fire originated from the refrigerator, which then spread to the ceiling and started on the interior of the house while the brethren with one heart strived to pour water on the areas that were burning.

When the team of firefighters arrived around 8.50pm, they were astonished and amazed by the capability of the village community who managed to put out the fire, even to the extent of spraying water onto the roofing. They rushed to the kitchen area and were amazed to see that the kitchen was not burnt at all. But when they opened the door to the refrigerator which was still smoking, they were startled by a huge fire that flared out from the inside. They immediately sprayed water not only on the fridge but also the whole ceiling frame and roofing to ensure that the fire was fully under control.

This event was extremely shocking and sad, however upon reflection on all that had happened, we noted a number of things that we encountered that were truly amazing.

1. There was only 1 tank full of water at that time. After putting out the fire for about 40 mins, Dn Yosafat found the water in the tank had not decreased;

2. My mother-in-law was not at home during the fire - usually she would stay in her room to read the Bible before dinner;

3. On that day, the car was parked facing the road - making it easier to be pushed even though the engine could not be started -- the car keys were also later found unburnt by the fire;

4. My online seminar was initially scheduled for Friday (2/7/2021) but I changed the time with Pr Yesaya as I was worried of being late in returning back to Kota Kinabalu - else, Saturday nights would usually see us drinking tea at my sis-in-law’s house and we would certainly not bring any laptops there. When the fire happened, none of the laptops at home were spared; yet two of the laptops that we brought with us for church work are safe;

5. Many items were destroyed but a Bible and two hymn books were not burnt even though everything around them were burnt to ash;

       6. The money belonging to the church was not burnt;

7. The fire did not spread to the wet kitchen that has a cooking gas cylinder;

8. Important documents inside a cupboard were protected even though the cupboard itself was burnt black from the fire;

9. From the outside, the building structure was still intact (did not collapse) - from a psychological point of view, the condition of the house was not too heartbreaking;

All thanks to God and the prayers of all brethren, this fearful event did not cause us too much emotional distress. Our whole family was able to maintain calm although feelings of sadness do come upon us from time to time. There were members who suggested that we might want to get some counselling from a psychiatrist on this matter. However, we are thankful to God, the Almighty Counselor who is able to give us comfort and strength.

Brethren from all around assisted us without fail, from putting out the fire to cleaning up the piles of burnt rubbish that needed clearing.

Brothers and sisters from local churches far and near donated to us from love. Donations were also received from non-believers.

Furthermore, members also received praise and recognition from ADUN (Sabah State Legislative Assembly) and Parliament Members for their success in extinguishing the fire before the firefighters arrived.

All thanks also to all members who prayed without ceasing, who asked after us, gave us support and encouragement, donated funds, etc.

Many say that there is a beautiful plan of God behind every calamity. We are also convinced and believe that there is a bright shining light at the end of this dark tunnel.


All praises to the name of the Almighty God. Amen!


-- 張福華傳道 Pr. Fook Fah Chong