by Paula Lent
The woman strained to see her way through pitch black smoke as she crawled on the floor to escape the fire in her kitchen. A grease fire on her stovetop had burned out of control, climbing up the wall behind the stove and filling her family’s Evansville home with smoke.
The woman, a neighbor of the Evansville missionaries, told Ellen Earhart about the fire, saying that her household—her husband, their three young children and her mother-in-law—were all safe, but their stove was completely destroyed in the fire.
Ellen relayed the story to her husband, John. That same day, John received a call from Chris Vieck, saying that another neighbor, Mary Carter, had called her to ask if Chris knew of anyone who needed a stove. Mary’s brother was getting rid of his and wanted to give it to someone in need.
“This is incredible that you’re calling right now,” Chris had told Mary, “because our neighbors just had a kitchen fire and need a stove.”
John was working at the Praise Harvest farm stand the following day when he noticed the husband of the family who’d had the fire carrying a load of laundry to his car. John told him about the stove Mary’s brother was giving away. The man was happy to hear of the offer and gladly accepted it, but said that he wouldn’t be ready for the stove until repairs were finished in his kitchen.
The next day, Chris and several missionary brothers went to pick up the stove. It was in great shape.
Chris noted, “Mary’s brother likely could have sold it for a good price at a used appliance store. Somehow, he and Mary thought that it could be used otherwise.” The missionaries stored the stove in a garage they own in the neighborhood.
A few weeks later, the couple knocked on the Earharts’ door to let them know they were ready for the stove. As John helped them carry it through the alley to their house, the man said he couldn’t take any more microwave meals. “He was about as excited as I’ve ever seen him,” John recalls. After installing the stove, John texted Chris to let her know how grateful the family was.
“I was amazed at the Lord’s thoughtfulness,” says Chris. “It’s striking how he provides, how he cares about the details of life and this family of six and what they were going through.”