The wildfires that have destroyed ground and property in East Tennessee have been mostly extinguished as of late Thursday afternoon — and one shining beacon of hope, faith, and light continues to inspire residents and business owners as they begin to pick up the pieces.
In the remains of a home turned to rubble in Sevier County, Tennessee, a statue of Jesus was found still standing.
It was soiled but not broken. It stood upright and whole, but not burned.
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Amid the destruction, it was there for all to see, to be comforted by — and to marvel at, even now.
“The statue of Jesus still standing in a home after the wildfires of Tennessee swept through it perhaps confirm the words of Jesus himself: ‘I will be with you always, even until the end of time’ (Matthew 28:20),” said Fr. Michael Sliney, a Catholic priest in New York and a LifeZette contributor. “Christ is always there with us, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, and He simply will never abandon His friends.”
As remarkable as the discovery of the status was — it was not the only faith-fueled relic found in the rubble left by the flames.
Earlier this week, a Dollywood theme park employee, Isaac McCord, discovered a page from the Bible that had survived the flames. The worker said the passage he found provides “hope and faith,” which is why he posted it to Facebook — where it has since been shared many thousands of times.
He found the passage from Scripture while he was helping to clean up part of the theme park.
Several verses from the Book of Joel are visible on the burned page, including, “To you, LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field.”
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The cause of the fire, which damaged roughly 17,000 acres, is still being investigated. The fire has claimed 11 lives and more than 70 people have been injured; some are still missing.
“We’re never going to give up hope. I will always hold out hope of a rescue,” Fire Chief Greg Miller said at a Thursday afternoon press conference, according to a report in Patch. “But now we are at hour 65 since the beginning of the fires … ”
Catholic Charities of East Tennessee is providing aid to those who have lost their homes, Catholic News Agency noted.