From the Ashes

Shortly after checking into my hotel room in Walla Walla, Wash., on Nov. 17, Keith Hallam, Auburn Adventist Academy principal, called with the news that the girls' dorm was burning, but everyone was safe. At a moment like that, priorities change. Suddenly I was packing and thanking God for His goodness that everyone had escaped injury.

The Holy Spirit reminded me that difficulties come to all people. The issue is never the difficulty itself, but how you handle the difficulty. Jesus told us that in this world we would face difficult times, but to be of good cheer because He had overcome the world. Jesus is our Deliverer, the Rock on which we stand. He will see us through.

I was extremely proud of the love and concern the academy administration and faculty demonstrated as they worked harmoniously together to care for our students. Parents, pastors and church members arrived to assist wherever needed. Tom James, Centralia Church pastor, arranged for fencing to secure the site. Red Cross care packages were distributed to the victims, counselors were readily available, and assistance was given to replace passports and airline tickets. Each girl received $50 to purchase needed personal items.

Calls offering assistance kept pouring in. Victor Brown arrived on campus on behalf of Walla Walla College to offer assistance. Academies and colleges across the country offered assistance. A local bank set up relief fund accounts.

Adventist Risk Management sent several specialists to explain our insurance policy. A team will investigate the cause of the fire, and the remnants of the dorm will be demolished.

Our goal is to have a new dorm built for the 2004-2005 school year. Pete Lewis, Auburn mayor, offered his condolences and help with building permits.

Priorities have definitely changed. My prayer is that this will move our students into a deeper relationship with Jesus. To everyone who has offered prayers and assistance, please accept my deepest thanks.

Jesus will one day destroy and purify this earth with fire. Out of the ashes will come a new earth more beautiful than we can ever imagine. Similarly, out of the ashes of the old dorm, a new dorm will emerge. The rooms will smell fresh, and the furniture will be new. The new dorm will become “home” to young women seeking a Christian education, and Jesus will receive all the glory for what He has done.

December 01, 2003 / Washington Conference