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Scorched Bible pages reassure wildfire victims of God’s love

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (BP)–Through the smoldering, black ash of what was left of the home of Mike Foscolos of San Bernardino his flashlight caught site of a paper fluttering through the air just hours after the flames consumed his home.

As he stepped on it with his foot to catch it, he realized it was a singed page from his Bible.

“It was the first Bible I received as a new Christian and I had saved it in the garage,” said Foscolos, who evacuated his home on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 25, and returned that evening to find it destroyed. “I couldn’t believe it was the page with Jeremiah 29:11-13 on it.”

The passage reads: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Foscolos said he is having the page framed to keep in his rebuilt home as a testimony.

“To me, it means God is in control and His promises are true,” said Foscolos, who manages the bookstore at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif. Another 15 members of the church lost their homes and one deacon died, suffering a heart attack after evacuating his home. “It’s a reminder that God has a purpose for everything. We may not know why something happens but it’s not our place to ask Him.”

He was planning to pick up his framed page Oct. 31 so that Rob Zinn, Immanuel Baptist’s pastor, could use it in a sermon illustration Nov. 2.

The sermon title will be “Be anxious for nothing” from Philippians 4:6.

Zinn and his staff have provided the families who lost their homes with new Bibles from the church’s bookstore.

Immanuel Baptist member Laura Carrasco, who lived in a San Bernadino home with her brother, Randy Martinez, and two of her grandchildren also found pages of her Bible at the site of her burned home.

“I can’t believe this,” said Carrasco, who works at Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church in Riverside. “You can’t imagine what it’s like to lose your Bible until you don’t have one.”

As she sifted through the rubble with a facemask, members of Calvary Baptist Church stopped by to give her, and some friends helping her, boxed lunches.

Although she has been to the site several times since the wildfire swept through, she cries each time, she said.

“There are just a lot of emotions here,” said Carrasco, who formerly worked at Immanuel Baptist for seven years. “I grew up here and my mom died two years ago while living with me in this house.”

She pointed out a colorful robe under the ashes in what had been her bedroom.

“I was going to pull that out of the trunk it was in on Friday (Oct. 31) to remember the second anniversary of her death,” Carrasco said with tears in her eyes. “But if anything, my faith is stronger. I have been so blessed by my church and work.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Carrasco returned to her office where she serves as executive assistant to pastor Montia Setzer to find it filled with bags of gifts for her family.

“I was amazed,” she said. “There were lotions, gift certificates, toys for my grandkids, clothes for the kids and groceries. Everyone at the church has been wonderful. I have received such an outpouring of love.”

She and her family also have received support from the Highland Church where she has led a Monday night Bible study in her home for 16 years.

“We have been so blessed by our church,” said Carrasco, who only escaped with some wedding and baby albums and a few other items. “My Bible study group came over and got me and said, ‘We’re moving the Bible study and cooking dinner for you every Monday night.’ The blessings keep coming.”

Carrasco’s daughter, who has seven children, also lost her home. She lived within a mile from Carrasco. And next door, the home burned where she had grown up and her other brother had been living.

She plans to rent a home and use the insurance money to rebuild her home.

“I just love my neighborhood and would never want to leave,” she said. “I know we have a long road ahead but we’ll be OK.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PRECIOUS PAGES and FIREPROOF FAITH.

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  • Kelli Cottrell