Pastor's Home destroyed by Fire

Pastor's Home destroyed by Fire
By: Carly O'Keefe
Williamson County, IL - A southern Illinois pastor learned a lesson from sermons past that material possessions aren't all there is to life when his home burnt to the ground.
Reverend Ralph Brandon’s house was destroyed by a fire early Monday morning. Brandon awoke to smoke and flames in his Williamson County home and rushed to get his family out.

Wife Barbara Brandon recently underwent knee replacement surgery and had to navigate down a flight of stairs through what she calls "suffocating" smoke to get outside. Her 82-year-old mother was sleeping in a first floor bedroom. The pastor helped the two of them to safety.

"Our grandson was in the upstairs bathroom window yelling help me, help me, someone please help me," Barbara Brandon said.

The 18-year-old jumped from the second story window to safety just in time.

"We made it to about here when the whole thing exploded," said Ralph Brandon.

"I turned around and looked, I knew it was all gone, there was no saving anything," said Barbara Brandon.

The family watched as the fire quickly consumed everything they had.

"I was out there in my BVD’s," Brandon said.

Standing in his front yard with nothing on and nothing left, the reverend was stripped down to his faith.

“As I look at this," he said, pointing to what's left of his home of 31 years, "I can either morn what I have lost, or I can celebrate what I have left,"

What’s left he says is a family strengthened by losing all but each other.

"We spent that day in a very sobering presence of how close death was--we're talking a minute," Brandon said.

And after such a close call, Brandon says he has a new perspective on worldly possessions and the way he used to live his life.

"God said I want you to be able to feel good because of what you are in me, not because of what you have," said Brandon.