March 20, 2014

church fireThis Day In Texas History:

Today is Thursday, March 20, 2014. It is the 79th day of the year. There are 286 days remaining until the end of the year. Typically, the first day of Spring begins as March equinox falls on this date, marking the vernal point in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumnal point in the Southern Hemisphere, when both day and night are of equal length.

Church on Fire:

I wrote this piece twenty-six years ago. I was associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas at the time. I had just been to Beaumont, Texas making hospital rounds where I visited sick church members.

My ultimate goal was to drive north on Texas Highway 92 until it intersected US Highway 190 just west of Dam B. There I would turn east and drive home to Jasper. I had just left Silsbee, Texas heading toward Fred, Texas when I first saw it in on the horizon.

From more than fifteen miles away, the smoke could be seen rising nearly ten thousand feet above the tall pine trees and dogwood. It’s gray-blue plum acted as a beacon saying something is happening here. But what? But exactly where?

Was someone burning trash? No, the amount of smoke was too great.

Was it a raging forest fire? Possibly, but if so it was only in an embryonic stage.

Was the smoke the signal of a controlled burn by one of the timber companies? Possibly, but yet the signals just did not look correct.

As I continued driving for miles. As I was leaving Fred, Texas a number of vehicles were assembling in the distance. The closer I got, the more recognizable the cars and trucks became. The wind changed and the smoke pushed its deadly midnight momentarily across the highway.

As I got nearer, I saw no flames. Smoke was gushing out the doors and windows of a small framed building. It was erupting in a deadly, black, thickness through the roof.

The Church in the Pines was dying from fire and smoke inhalation.

Author: Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a full-time writer. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a career military father and stay at home mother. He lived in six states and attended eight different schools before graduating high school. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and Military Science from The University of Texas at Arlington, Master of Arts and Master of Religious Education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Doctor of Education degree. Before writing full-time, he worked as a US Army officer for 10-years, religious educator for 18-years, and as an IT software application engineer for over 20-years. He is a widower. He lives in North Texas with his cat Lacey.