The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Amazing story

Fernando Villicana: Rescued From the Flames

By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club“The worst thing that could happen to a firefighter happened to me.  In all the smoke and the heat, I got lost.  I could not find my way out of that hallway.”

After a bad decision when responding to routine fire call, Fernando Villicana was now at the brink of death. His dream of saving lives had now become his worst nightmare. His passion to fight fires started when he was just a boy.

“I was always intrigued, like most kids are, with the fire department, police department.  But it wasn’t until a house burned down next door to me when I was about nine years old and I saw those guys in action from across the street, that’s when I figured, ‘Boy, I’m going to be a firefighter.’”

Fernando became a firefighter. He also married Elizabeth and started a family.

“I really felt the Lord put us together. I felt secure and safe.  I felt that he was going to take care of me.” 

“She was very kind and she loved the Lord. That was the common bond that we had, really.  We both wanted to serve the Lord.” 

Fernando loved the challenge of being a firefighter.

“You just get used to helping and understanding that whatever’s broken, you’re going to try and fix it.  You almost look at things mechanically.  You can’t take it too personal.”

Life was good for the young family, but Fernando started a hobby that took drew his attention away from his family - and God.

“I had good genetics for body building.  So I got deeper and deeper into it. I wasn’t thinking of getting competitive until a couple of years into it.  I competed for three and a half years and I did very well as a amateur, as a matter of fact, and I won the iron man competition.”

Bodybuilding became an obsession.

“All of the different things that I’d promised my wife I wouldn’t get involved in, I did get involved in; like being competitive and wearing little shorts up on stage, steroid use which was necessary at my level of competition.”

“Instead of talking about God, now he’s talking about himself and how he needed to build himself.  It was all about him.  That’s when my heart just sunk.  I go, ‘I’m losing my husband.’”

Fernando saw no need to change his course, and eventually Elizabeth had enough.

“My wife told me, and I couldn’t believe she told me this, ‘I’m not sure if I love you anymore.’” 

“It wasn’t like I wanted to walk away and, you know, I wanted a divorce or anything like that.  It was more like, ‘It’s just not working.’” 

She continued to pray for her wayward husband. But on the day Fernando’s company was called to a routine office fire, everything changed. His captain sent them to knock out a wall in the burning building.

“Because of my ego, my pride, my time on the job and experience, my body-building, all these things, I figured, ‘Well, I’m just going to go in here and I know these guys will be right behind me.’  I went up on that floor alone, which you never do.”

After he knocked the wall down, he heard a frightening sound.

“My bell began to ring on my regulator. That gives a firefighter an indication that you’ve only got two to three minutes of air left, and you’ve got to find your way out.”

“In all the smoke and the heat, I got lost.  I could not find my way out of that hallway.  I really felt stupid that I put myself in a situation like that, knowing better.  I thought instantly about my family, ‘I’m going to leave my wife home with these kids, with no dad.’   I mean, the reality just hit all at once.”

Then Fernando heard a voice.

“The voice said, ‘Fear not, for I am with you. I’ve called you by your name, you’re Mine.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.  Neither shall the flame kindle upon you, for I am the Lord your God.’”

With his oxygen gone and blinded by the smoke, Fernando thought his time was up.

“I figured I’m going to take my mask off and take the deepest breath of the super-heated smoke that I can and burn everything as fast as I can through my lungs.  I just wanted to die quickly.  As I grabbed my mask someone grabbed my armpit, from my armpit, and raised me up on my feet. As I breathed in and opened my eyes, my head was sticking out of a fire escape window.”

He made it down the escape and got medical attention. Then he asked his team who had pulled him out of the fire.

“No one admitted to being up there. As a matter of fact, my captain said, ‘You should not have been there, up there by yourself.’”  

“The Lord spoke to me a second time and He said these words to me. He said, ‘The angel of the Lord encamps round about those that love him and fear him.’  I knew at that point that God Himself rescued me. That there was an angel in that fire somehow that brought me to that window or I would have been dead for sure.”

“That’s when I decided that I was going to stop running from God, and rededicate my life totally to Jesus Christ.”
“ My husband dropped that badge on the table and said that he was going to surrender. ‘God gave me this job, and I’m giving it back to Him.’”  

Fernando quit bodybuilding, he also changed jobs with the fire department.  Today he’s their chaplain.  His and Elizabeth’s marriage has never been the same.

“He started focusing again on the kids and his heart was getting warm again. He’s gentle and loving, like he is today.  It was like, ‘Man, I got my husband back.’” 

“I remember David saying; ‘Even if I make my bed in hell…’ that’s basically what I did.  I had turned my back on God, no doubt about it.  He never, never forsook me.  He brought me out.  That’s faithfulness.  He gave me another shot at life.”

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