Fighting Fire with Faith
January 1996

“Fighting Fire with Faith,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 48–49

Fighting Fire with Faith

It was 1:30 A.M. when I was jolted awake by the sound of my pager.

As a member of the Penhold Fire Department in Alberta, Canada, I knew it meant I was needed on a dangerous job.

I pulled on my shirt and peered out the window. What I saw stunned me. One of the mobile homes in the trailer court nearby was on fire, engulfed in flames twenty feet high.

Within minutes I arrived on the scene. Other units were already in position battling the fire. The fire chief told me to don my breathing apparatus and be ready to provide backup for the team inside the burning mobile home. At that moment, only half awake and a little disoriented, I looked at the leaping flames and was very frightened. I had been with the fire department less than a year, and although I had fought many different kinds of fires, I had never before had to enter a burning building.

I had been raised with the belief that serving my fellowman was the same as serving God (see Mosiah 2:17), and working with my fellow firefighters had helped me exercise this belief. But as I watched the flames intensify and reach skyward, I was nearly paralyzed with fear.

A moment later the order came: “You’re going in.” Even though the occupants had exited safely thanks to their smoke detector, we had a high-risk fire hazard on our hands due to the close proximity of the other mobile homes. The fire had to be put out. Scared as I was, suddenly I was running into the inferno.

I began praying. I prayed for my fellow firefighters who were also inside the mobile home. I prayed for the people who were watching their home go up in smoke. I prayed for my wife and children. I prayed that my partner and I could complete the task at hand and that the panic would be dispelled. The smoke had become so thick that it was impossible to see our way to the other team.

Suddenly, as I prayed, Lehi’s vision of the tree of life came to mind. Feelings of calmness and comfort replaced the fear.

I remembered the iron rod and instantly knew that the way to find the other team was to follow the fire hose, which I did.

The whole ordeal lasted about fifteen minutes, and in that time we were able to gain control of the fire. As the smoke cleared, I was able to see the fruit of our labors, our symbolic enjoyment of reaching the tree “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Ne. 8:10), and I was filled with an overflowing feeling of gratitude.

My life has been changed as a result of this experience. The Book of Mormon text had brought new insight and understanding to me, and the experience proved to be a turning point in my life. I realized in a powerful way that when we are in the service of others, our Heavenly Father will watch out for us as he blesses them through our efforts.

  • Tim Schildknecht serves as second counselor in the elders quorum presidency in the Red Deer First Ward, Red Deer Alberta Stake.