Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 9, 2011

Among the Ashes

I had my first experience with a family whose home had burned when I lived in Houston in the 1990’s. Their home caught fire on New Year’s Day, just after midnight, when a stray bottle-rocket sent flying by someone in the neighborhood landed on the roof of their home. When I received word about the fire I immediately rushed over to be with the family. It was a terrible sight to see the shell of their home and everything they owned reduced to ashes. I walked through the smoldering and blackened remains of what once was their home, helping them to recover fragments of photos. I listened as the mother wept and pointed to where their Christmas tree once stood. All of the treasured ornaments that she intended to pass on to her kids were forever gone. It was a sobering experience to walk among the ashes.

I immediately set things in motion to mobilize our church family to help. I contacted realtors looking for temporary housing, contacted folks about furniture, and other big stuff. And then, a woman in our church called to ask me if we had provided the family with the most immediate things they would need — things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and other toiletries, blow-dryers, underwear, and all of those little things we take for granted. Honestly, I had not thought about those little things at all. But the woman was right. So, we took a step back and started by providing the family with the little things they would need and then moved on to their bigger needs.

Bastrop Fires | Photo by San Antonio Express-News

Last weekend, soon after my son and I reached the finish line of the Colorado River 100 — the marathon canoe race that starts at Bastrop, Texas — we learned about the wildfires in Bastrop County. Within hours we received word that the homes of three families that we know in Bastrop had burned to the ground. One home belonged to the parents of some dear friends who serve as missionaries in South Asia. They lost all of their treasured family photos and remembrances from around the world. As of this writing, more than 35,000 acres of piney woods have burned and more than 1,400 homes destroyed. Thousands of people are currently displaced because of the fires.

Those who have suffered the loss of everything they owned will be on the road to recovery for months. They will have to find temporary lodging, work with insurance companies, and more in order to begin the journey back to what will be their new normal. But these families also have immediate needs for all of those little things that we easily take for granted — toiletries, underwear, socks, school supplies, and more. That’s why our missions ministry is collecting funds to send to the Austin Baptist Association so that they can purchase gift cards to give to families in need. Families can then use these gift cards to get what they need most. We have already forwarded $2,000.00 and will forward thousands more on Monday. If you would like to help the people of Bastrop, we are collecting funds through Sunday. Please make your check payable to Kingsland Baptist Church and designate it “Bastrop Relief.” We’ll get the funds to our friends in Austin who will in turn purchase gift cards for families in need.

• • • • •
Update | 12 September 2011 | Thank you Kingsland family for donating an additional $25,675.00 to assist those who lost their homes to the Bastrop wildfires. Your gift will enable our friends at the Austin Baptist Association to give assistance to hundreds of these families.


  1. Dear Pastor Omar,

    I too have experienced the devastation and destruction of a fire. Actually, my home in New Orleans burned twice in the same night while I watched. And the second time the fire roared because the house was already ‘hot’.

    I was faced with the very revelation of basic needs…all that was left was what was on my body. Everything else was ashes.

    But God! I hope that this testimony will help others know that God is still in control. My first purchase was a new Bible, second an air mattress, pillows and some hygiene items. I went to bed the next day feeling uncomfortable to say it mildly. For two years, I read my Bible and saved my money.

    Eventually, I was oblivious to the lack of creature comforts and was absorbed by the Word. My life, I thought, was stripped from me but I was wrong. I had to loose myself to find myself.

    Within a few years I was well on my way to a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Then I was introduced to the Holy Spirit. Not much mattered after that. But God is a God of restoration. He provided all my needs and gave me some desires of my heart. Within a little time, all that I lost He made a way…and honestly, it was twice as good as anything I had before.

    God gave me beauty for my ashes and I am certain and prayerfully agree that He will do the same for all. May all trust Him and turn to Him.



    • Dacques,

      Thanks for sharing your story of God’s faithfulness and how He gave you beauty for ashes.


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