A Florida pastor and his family lost their home to a fire that took most of their belongings Sunday but remained thankful as neighbors saved their pet cat and a goat from perishing.
The Bellview Assembly of God in Pensacolaannounced in a statement on Facebook Monday that the church’s parsonage burned down Sunday afternoon. Youth minister Jacob White and his family, who were living in the home, lost nearly everything.
“Yesterday afternoon, the church parsonage burned down. Praise God no one was home and the pets were rescued,” the statement said. “Our Youth Director and his family lived in the house and they have lost everything.”
White, who has four children with his wife, Amanda, told WKRG that while they lost a lot in the fire, he is grateful that the fire happened at a “convenient time.”
The family was reportedly out celebrating a birthday when they received a phone call about the fire at the home.
“If there is such a thing [as] a convenient time for something like this, then it happened at a convenient time. Because nobody was here to be harmed or hurt and we are all safe and are ok,” White said.
Escambia County Fire and Rescue said the fire, which occurred on Sunday afternoon, was started by a failed power strip in one of the home’s bathrooms.
White is now staying in a family mobile home on his father’s property. He acknowledged that the family will have to restart “from scratch” but expressed faith in God’s word to recover.
“We have a roof over our heads… but as far as anything else goes, it’s just starting from scratch and just figuring it out. We just know that Romans 8:28 and what it tells us on God’s word and we are just going to stand on that,” he said.
Romans 8:28 states: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Neighbors reportedly broke down the home's door when they saw the fire and found the goat and the cat inside. They were also able to save some of the pastor’s family photos.
“I am thankful that everything that means the most to us survived,” Amanda White told the local news station. “You know our pictures and our memories, our memory books of our kids and children, and they revived our animals. So we lost a lot, but we didn’t lose the important stuff.”
The family also expressed thanks to the community for stepping in to help them when they needed it the most.
“We have never been one to have our hand out. We have always been the one giving out, and it’s just nice to know that people love us and care for us and [are] willing to give and help us out in a time of need,” the pastor said.
A GoFundMe campaign with a $10,000 fundraising goal to assist the family had raised more than $3,200 as of Wednesday morning.
“The outpouring of love, support and prayer is humbling. I cannot even begin to express how grateful our family is! God is so good,” Amanda White wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Everyone wants to help. Honestly we don't really know where to start. It’s overwhelming and we are frazzled.”