All things work together for good even in the course of disaster
By Cristal Chong
To give them a treat, one Saturday I invited my college students Nancy and Smile for a hot pot steamboat lunch. The restaurant served us individual pots that were heated by a small burner. In the middle of the meal, the fire in the burner went off so we called the waitress to re-light it. As we were sitting next to the window and it was a bright day, we didn’t realise that the fire had not actually completely gone out. When the waitress poured kerosene onto the burner, there was a huge explosion.
All the customers screamed and ran out of the restaurant when they heard the fiery explosion. As I was sitting closest to the explosion, my hands, jeans and shoes caught fire. I jumped out of my seat and tried to beat off the fire. After furiously doing this for a few minutes, I managed to put out the fire. My first thought was to run out of the building because the table was still on fire.
In the midst of the panic, I lost Nancy and Smile so I went to search for them in the crowd. I found them on the other side of the restaurant both reeling in pain from being burnt – Smile on her legs and Nancy on her face. They were in a lot of pain and Nancy was crying worriedly, ”My face, my face, it hurts so much. Will I have scars on my face?” The fire had burnt off her eyebrows and her hair fringe was scorched and falling off. Recalling the first-aid I knew, I rushed them to the washroom to soak their burns in cool water. Thank God there were two sinks in the washroom so I helped them cool their burns in the basins. The restaurant manager was very kind and offered to take us to the hospital. Getting to the hospital was another challenge as it was a Saturday and the traffic was almost impossible. When we reached the first hospital we were turned away because they had no facility to treat burns patients. Finally after 2 hours, we managed to get the medical attention needed.
That evening, after settling Nancy and Smile back in their dormitory, I tried to sleep but the scene and sound of the explosion kept flashing in my mind like a terrible nightmare. I prayed and asked God to help me rest. Suddenly the song I used to sing when I was in youth group came to my mind “Fear not, for I am with you, says the Lord. When you walk through the waters, I’ll be there and through the flame. You’ll not be drowned, you’ll not be burnt, for I am with you.”
I realised that it was God who had kept me safe and although my hands and legs had been through the flame, I was amazingly not burnt! I felt great relief and peace knowing that God had protected me.
I was assured once again the next morning when the verses from Isaiah 43:1b-3 was quoted in a book I happened to be reading:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Before we went to visit Nancy the next morning the Lord also gave me a verse for her. Knowing she was very worried and fearful about having facial scars from the burns, the Lord promised her in Psalm 34:4 that if she sought the Lord, He would deliver her from all my fears. If she looked to him, her face would be radiant and not be covered with shame.
True enough to His word, a week later we saw Nancy had no facial scars at all. In fact she had new beautiful smooth and radiant skin!
Nancy and Smile were both unbelievers at the time of the accident. After they saw the hand of God’s protection on me and how He healed them so quickly, their hearts were drawn to Him. I continue to pray for them as it is not easy to stay strong in the faith where they live. END
Cristal is an English teacher in a university in China