Pastor Chuck Johnson Jr. is thanking God that he and his family escaped a pre-dawn fire Monday (April 24) that heavily damaged the Hollywood Baptist Church parsonage in Clarkesville, Georgia, where they lived.
Johnson, his wife, and their five children were sleeping when he awoke shortly after 6 a.m. to a strange noise and the smell of smoke. He looked out his bedroom window and saw the yellowish glow of fire reflecting against trees in the backyard.
‘We all got out alive’
“I had one firefighter tell me that if I had woken up 10 minutes later, I probably wouldn’t have all my family with me,” he said. “That’s the silver lining, that we all got out alive.”
Once Johnson had his family out of the house, he went back in to rescue his wife’s dog, sustaining second-degree burns in the process.
Photos taken by Habersham County Emergency Services personnel show flames leaping high above the home when firefighters arrived.
The entire home received either fire, smoke or water damage. All the furnishings were destroyed.
Firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading to the church’s fellowship hall, which is only about 30 feet away.
Johnson, now living in temporary housing with his wife and children ages 9 months to 14 years, said the response of the church and the community have been “amazing and encouraging.”
“Our immediate needs are covered,” Johnson said. “Everyone has been reaching out to help. That’s been incredible.”
“The biggest thing we’ll need in the future is furniture, but right now I’m not sure where we would put that,” he said.
Johnson said the fire was a powerful reminder of his dependence on the Lord.
“What a good God we serve,” he said. “Even in the midst of loss, He is our sustainer and provider.”