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What do blankets and a dog named Ralph have in common? For Derek Walker and Maria Gilbert, both Ralph and the blankets were used by God to help their family escape a house fire on September 8, 2020.
Around 2 a.m., after an evening spent barbequing, Walker shares he heard the family’s Great Dane, Ralph, bark. He thought the bark sounded different and he also heard a noise in the kitchen, so he went downstairs and was shocked to find flames out of his window. He immediately screamed “fire” to wake up his wife, Maria, and two children, Jack (12) and Ella (9). Gilbert woke up and raced to get Ella, since her room was on the same level. After making sure she was safely outside, she went back in to get her son, Jack. Gilbert says that when she got to her son’s room, “it was full of black smoke. I couldn’t see into the room.” She adds that she managed to get to his bed, screaming for him to get up, and had to get under the covers and pull him out to get him to wake up. Once he did, they ran back outside. During this time, Walker was trying to rescue their two miniature pigs, Pearl and Mia. He says he was able to coax Mia out of the sunroom that was aflame but couldn’t get to Pearl. He then went to rescue Ralph, who was in his latched kennel. It was around this time, when Walker got outside with Ralph, that the fire alarms started going off. Gilbert adds that at this time, the fire was already in the kitchen, through the sunroom and living room, and into the dining room. “If it wasn’t for Ralph, if God hadn’t worked through him to have him bark, we would not have made it,” Gilbert said, adding, that the firemen confirmed that if they had woken up even a minute later, they wouldn’t have been able to rescue their son Jack.
As they look back, Walker and Gilbert can see God’s hand of protection throughout the experience. A firesafe, that was given to Gilbert when she was thirteen, was used by God to protect their most important documents. Their neighbors and church community at Valleydale Church immediately surrounded them with practical support and prayers. Even though they lost everything that morning, their family- all that truly mattered- made it safely out. And the next night they had clean clothes, food and a roof over their heads because of the people God had placed around them.
Not much of their earthly possessions survived the fire, Walker explains. However, he adds, “Every single one of our Bibles made it through.” Even through this trial the family is still facing, they know- without a doubt- that this was God’s plan and that He will see them through. Gilbert said she is reminded of Isaiah 43:2, “…When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
How can you help? Walker and Gilbert ask for your prayers in discerning what the next steps should be for their family and also that God will work through them to help others in their faith journey.
If you have a Miracle that you would be willing to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject Line: Miracle Moments or call 205-408-7150.