The Rest of the El Fuego Story

Here is the rest of the El Fuego story:

Several years ago Indian Creek Student Ministry partnered with Youth Front and others to travel to Mexico every year for twelve years! I led many of those trips and we developed some very good friends in Monterrey, Mexico. Many of you would know the name Enrique Cepeda. He is a dear friend of Indian Creek. He opened his network of friends to us and some of those friends were the Vasquez family.

They had a hacienda outside of Monterrey that was perfect for hosting a large group. A great pool, dorms for guys and girls, a place to meet and eat and some nice outdoor places to rest or play under the trees; made it a great setting! The Vasquez family often hosted groups and they believed their small ranch was a gift from God that they could use as a retreat center for Him. All in all it was about ten acres of land.

El Fuego!
One trip will be forever etched in my memory—never to be forgotten! It was on a Thursday afternoon, after our morning sessions of a 5-Day Vacation Bible School. Our team could sense the end near. We had just one day left. Though exhausted they were excited and happy to have participated. Now they had one last chance to go to town to shop for souvenirs. I had stayed at the ranch because of a couple students who were sick. Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling so well myself. Montezuma was having its revenge, if you know what I mean.

The students were sleeping in the dorm and I had just lain down to take a nap. The next thing I knew the owner of the hacienda was shaking me awake shouting “El fuego, el fuego!” I’m not the best at Spanish but I knew I’d heard that word before back in my Junior High Spanish class. What did it mean? Then it hit me—fire! From the look on her face I was sure I had it right.

I jumped up and ran outside to see that we were clearly in danger. The hacienda sat next to a large sugar cane field. The cane stood about eight feet tall and the field was on fire. That meant the flames were two feet above the top of the cane. It was an incredible sight! The fire was at the other end of the field but coming our way. The wind was blowing and it sounded like a freight train. My whole body felt fear. We didn’t have much time; I figured 45 minutes at best.

We needed to get all of our group’s belongings into our bus and get off the property. The hacienda was surrounded on two sides by the field and trees formed a natural boundary between the two. I could imagine the fire jumping to the trees and then to the buildings. It was hard to imagine any other scenario.

I woke the students and we started pulling everything out as quickly as possible! We didn’t care what got mixed up we just threw things in the bus. We kept one eye on the fire and one on the work. Amazingly, we got everything in the bus just as the fire came to the edge of the field. I drove the bus to the gate and went back to get the owner.

She had been pacing, crying and praying at the end of the hacienda’s land. At that point in time she was singing a worship song and holding a garden hose with one small stream. I felt compassion for her. She looked so helpless in the face of a wall of fire that was now only 20 feet away. The heat and smoke was overwhelming! But her faith was strong!

I tried to get her to come with us but she didn’t want to leave her land. A small irrigation ditch surrounded the property. It was two feet deep and it had sewer in it but we took some buckets, dipped from it and tried to wet down the grass to stop the fire. However it was obviously a losing proposition. I’d been praying too and I was asking God what to do—as if there was anything I could do.

Then I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks, Speak to the fire and command it to stop! Where did that come from, I wondered. I know Moses spoke to the Red Sea and it divided. I know Jesus commanded the storm to stop but that was Moses and Jesus. Who was I to attempt that now? Was I delusional? But then another thought, My authority isn’t based on who I am but who’s I am. I’m a child of God and He is the Creator of the universe!

But if He is, why doesn’t He stop the fire—the debate raged like the fire in my mind. But what was there to lose? I do believe in God and I do believe in the power of faithful prayer.

By this time the fire was to the end of the field. It was now or never. I stood at the field, stretched out my hands in my best Moses stance and yelled at the top of my voice, Fire, in the name of Jesus, I command you to stop! You will not take this hacienda! This land is dedicated to be used as a blessing of God and you cannot have it! I command you to stop! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

I watched and waited not sure what would happen next. Seconds seemed like hours. Then all at once across the whole field the fire dropped from ten feet tall to two feet tall. I was shocked! The wind shifted and began to blow from behind us. By that time the cane was burned but no fire jumped to the property because of the wind. I was stunned! I could hardly believe what I was seeing. In one minute’s time disaster turned into unbelievable joy. The four of us began to cry, thank God and scream for joy! Our fear turned to faith in the God who could put out the fire.

Just then the firemen came. They got out their hoses and put out the rest of the fire. But for all practical purposes it was already out. They were amazed! They wanted to know, How did this happen?

There was a perfect black line on one side of the ditch and a perfect green one on the other. They’d never seen anything like it. There was no good reason the fire didn’t jump to the trees on the hacienda property. They were stumped. We were amazed! The owner told them God protected her property and the evidence was unmistakable!

It was about an hour later when our group of nearly 20 young people and counselors came back they were stunned witnesses.

So now when I watch the story of Moses commanding the Red Sea to divide or Jesus calming the storm I experience those stories in a whole new way. I’ve been a part of a miracle like that.

I believe the miracle took place because I prayed a prayer and took authority in a way that was perfectly in line with what God already wanted to do.

There is no doubt in my mind that the miracle had less to do with me and more to do with the prayers of the owner or the plans of God for that hacienda. But I was obedient and God used me. Don’t give me the credit. You could do a miracle too if you believe and obey.