As a deputy for the Loudon County Sheriff’s department and a bivocational pastor, Kenny Palmer is used to calls for people in distress.
But he was not prepared for the call he received from dispatch on April 5 that his house was on fire.
Though he was told his wife (Christina) and youngest son (Colten) were out of the house and not harmed, Palmer said it was difficult to feel relief until you see them for yourself. That’s when faith kicked in for Palmer, who also is the bivocational pastor of South Holston Baptist Church, Lenoir City, Tennessee.
“I prayed that everything would be all right.” When he and his oldest son, Kevin, who was with him arrived, they saw that the rest of the family was safe. The house, however, was a different story.
The house was fully enveloped by the fire and though people tried, they were unable to get things out of the house before it was destroyed.
“Everything we owned was gone in a moment,” he said, adding that he could not help but think, “What do we do now?”
One item that he lost that he could not recover was the Bible that he had been given when he was ordained as a deacon and the one he has used since he was called to preach. “Losing that was hard,” he acknowledged. “It was like I had lost a piece of myself.”
Then, his faith took over once more. “I knew God would take care of this.” And, God has not let Palmer or his family down.
God is in control
“At one of the worst moments in my life, I could still look up and know that God has everything under control and that He would bring us through this,” Palmer affirmed.
“It is a testament to God to see how people have supported us with money, clothing and prayers. God really showed up.”
Palmer leaned on Romans 8:28 during the crisis: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” “God has shown me that Scripture a lot lately,” Palmer said.
The Palmers received support from fellow believers, many of whom they didn’t even know.
“Our community of churches has rallied around Bro. Kenny and Christina Palmer and their two boys,” said Phil Holmes, director of missions for Loudon County Baptist Association. “Several of our churches are taking up special offerings for them. Our association leadership also offered them a sizable donation to help them back on their feet.”
Holmes was grateful to all who stepped up to help the Palmers. “We have seen a very strong outpouring of the love of Christ to bless this amazing family,” he said. “Thank you to all who donated clothing, gift cards to restaurants and other items while they are staying in a hotel, and thank you for your prayers for the Palmer family.”
While the fire was still burning, pastors from the area were arriving to reach out and show love and support, he said. Since the fire, churches and people in the community have overwhelmed the family with money and gifts. Palmer said one pastor in West Tennessee made arrangements for him to get a new suit so he would have one for Sunday.
“It has been very humbling,” Palmer said of the show of support. “The Lord will use whoever and whatever to bless His people. He has done that and it has been amazing.”
Palmer also is humbled by the show of support from the community. In today’s culture where law enforcement officers are under attack, Palmer said it has been comforting to see the community rally around his family. “It shows they still have an appreciation for law enforcement,” he said.
In addition to the support the Palmer family has received since the fire, Palmer has had multiple opportunities to be a positive witness during interviews with Knoxville television stations.
“God gave me the opportunity to be a light and witness for Him to a lot of people that day,” Palmer said.
Palmer will never forget the love and support shown to his family “I can only hope that when tragedy strikes someone else, I will be the first in line to show God’s love to them.”
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was originally published by the Baptist and Reflector. To read more articles like this on Tennessee Baptists, visit baptistandreflector.org. This article also appears in TAB News, a digital regional Baptist publication. For more information or to subscribe to the TAB News app, visit tabonline.org/TAB-News-app.