Australian Fires Revive Faith in God

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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Though the death toll continues to rise in the horrible Australia wildfires, there are many stories being told of divine intervention and survival.

In Australia's state of Victoria, much of the land is black and scorched, a grim reminder of the ferocious wildfires that so far have claimed 200 lives.

CBN News Senior Reporter Wendy Griffith is in Australia covering the aftermath of the wildfires.  You can watch her reports on The 700 Club and Newswatch.  Check local listings.  You can also find her exclusive reports on CBNNews.com.

Survivors say the fires came so fast and were so hot that there was little, if any time to escape.

Pastors Conrad and Ruth Halleyburton lost both their home and their church in the inferno that roared through Marysville where nearly 40 people lost their lives.

"This is like a fiery tornado," Mrs. Halleyburton said. "I just thought we've got to get out of here, our lives are more precious than our home."

Conrad Halleyburton believes God allowed them to lose everything, so that others might see that they still have hope.

"And I saw the smoke coming from trees in the forest behind our home caught fire in the backyard I yelled to Ruth, 'Lets get out!,'" he recalled. "Like Habbakuk (the book in the Bible) says, even though the fig tree is gone and dead, in the midst of all there was no fruit on the vine, but we have hope in Jesus Christ."

John and Helen Leary decided to stay and fight the fires that were surrounding their hillside home. He says it was only God and the power of prayer that kept their house from going up in flames.

"The fire was coming up over the ridge," he said. "I rang my Mom first and she got a prayer chain for us and then Helen's mom got a prayer chain going. If anyone was going to keep their home it was going to be this street."

Pastor Ken Van Eden showed CBN News where the fires near his home in Melbourne engulfed his fence, his shed and part of his deck.

In his neighborhood six homes burned to the ground, but he believes God allowed the flames to come only so far at his home.

"I just shouted in fact, fire to stop at the boundary in Jesus name," he said.

Pastor Danny Nalliah of Catch the Fire Ministries near Melbourne believes the fires are opening the door for many to hear about Jesus.

"We're seeing an amazing number of people being open to the Gospel," Nalliah said. "I personally have spoken and prayed with many people and now they're saying, there has to be a God! There has to be a God!"

"I believe it's the greatest opportunity for the church right now, because we need Jesus in this hour."

*Originally aired February 17, 2009

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Wendy Griffith

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