A Special Devotional from Keefers Place

Refined By Fire

On August 17, 2023 at 3:00 pm the world changed for my wife and I along with our small community of Keefers.  

Our son Eric had just finished his birthday lunch with us and was touring all our new building projects that we had just completed when he and I noticed a small wisp of smoke off in the distance.  So he phoned the Forestry to see if they were aware of any fire in the area but they said no and asked him to check it out for them. Having worked for Forestry with his equipment, Eric was familiar with fires, so off he went.

Driving around the mountain took about half an hour and then we received a phone call from him.

“Get all the guests out of Keefers immediately, put sprinklers on the roofs, move any vehicles to our small clearing and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. That was the last warning we heard. We did what Eric said and all our lives were spared but only two buildings survived.

I’ve always heard of “escaping with only the shirt on your back” and now I literally know what that means.

We got our guests out first, followed by our wives, children and pets. Then us men stayed setting up sprinklers and hosing down the buildings, moving equipment and freeing six turkeys from their pen. By then the smoke had blotted out the sun and the flames had reached the top of the mountain above us.  From aerial photos the Forestry said the flames were from 300-400 feet high, it was rated as a rank 6 fire like an F5 tornado.   That night it was reported in Vancouver, over a hundred miles away, that a volcano had erupted in our direction.

There is only one way out of Keefers over a one-lane bridge high over the Nahatlatch River, but the bridge was in the direction the fire was heading.  Fortunately we arrived at the bridge shortly before the fire cut off the road access to the bridge.

Keefers is situated between the Fraser river on the one side, with the CN railway and Highway 1, and on the other side by the CP railway and the main BC Hydro lines to Vancouver from the Peace River Dam. The fire cut off the Trans Canada highway for two weeks, both railroads and the transmission lines for three days each. Because of these high value asset items in the Fraser Canyon, we were always protected from fires with water bombers, helicopters and fire fighters almost instantly. But this time nothing came to help us. 

Little did we know that at this very time fires exploded in Kelowna and Salmon Arm where thousands of lives and properties were at stake. We were only a small fraction of that, so every asset the Forestry had was diverted to where it was needed most.

As I was leaving Keefers I stopped to talk to Eric and he said “the next time we see each other it will all be over.” So as I got into my vehicle and turned on CIAM, Refresh radio out of Boston Bar, the song that was playing was: God be with you till we meet again. What beautiful timing,  the Lord had that song just for me and we did meet three weeks later.

David and Judy Phibbs from Keefers Place

After a while sifting through the rubble we found two gold coins, the only thing that survived the fire. But I know our treasure hidden in the field was not touched and the Pearl of great price lost no value. May we all take notice of God’s warning to us and prepare and be ready for the storms that are coming. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. The Lord revealed to us where our treasure really was.

May our lives not be all wood, hay and stubble as the fire that is coming will reveal it. May the fire only release the things that bind us, just as the three Hebrew children experienced in the fiery furnace. 

Since the fire my wife and I now feel a greater depth of freedom than in the past. We have so much to thank the Lord for in every way and are looking forward to this new season in our lives. –David & Judy Phibbs

Click Below to read more stories, updates and devotionals in the 2023/2024 Annual CIAM Newsletter

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