A pastor left homeless after his five-bedroom house was destroyed fire by says three months later it has not been easy.
The blaze, which also killed his cat of 17 years, gutted his home on John McLean Drive in East End.
Pastor Marquis McLaughlin lost most of the contents of the house and, only through the help of the community, has he been able to replace some items.
But Mr. McLaughlin’s thoughts are the same. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, God can turn every situation around. We only have to trust him. That’s the way I am looking at it, despite it been so painful,” he said.
“The day I stepped out of the car and saw the house on fire, it was like the Lord just threw a cloak over me and peace and quiet washed over me,” he added. “I walked to the fire but there was no fear. When a tragedy like this happens, the first reaction is to scream and cry but I did not experience that. God really proved himself that day.”
He said the first time he broke down was a few days ago.
“The insurance company wrote my lawyer to say they were not responsible, the house was not insured and the reason the cheque was not applied to the policy in over six weeks was because they waiting on a new form. This is not true. If you had a cheque on your desk for six weeks and I turned up twice would they not have said something?
“If she had told me I needed to get permission to take my wife off the property I would have told her she did not have to worry because I had the transfer to show that the property was in my name and a court order stating the fact,” he said. “With all that she still refused to do it now they are saying it is not their fault.”
Despite the setback Mr. McLaughlin is optimistic.
“A lot of people have made some donations and I am very grateful for the help,” he said. “I lost all my suits for church, but I was able to get new one for just $100 after a huge discount from the store. The very next day a person brought me a new suit and tie. Just today someone else gave me four suits.
“Just the other day I went looking for a second hand printer at the Red Cross, which I purchased for $15 dollars, a couple a days later someone gave me a new one,” he added. “God has really been blessing me.”
Since that time, Pastor McLaughlin found out the fire was not electrical but suspected arson.
He said an air condition window unit was removed to gain access to the house. Contents of a suitcase were dumped on the floor, a cellular phone, colognes and some other items were missing.
“Because the house was shut, the extreme heat did major damage,” he said. “The upstairs quarters was completely burned. The other two rooms were not too bad, but I could not salvage much because everything was so saturated with the smoke and oil from the pine wood. Most of my valuable books over 150 years old were also destroyed.”
Mr. McLaughlin said even the china in the cabinet was blackened from the smoke and no amount of washing could take off the soot.
Pastor McLaughlin said word on the street was he had money.
“The Lord knows, sometimes I cannot even buy a bread,” he said. “After the separation with my wife, things was tough. People were always telling me you don’t have anything because you give away too much. I always try to help others, not just from my standpoint but from the standpoint of the church.”
When it comes to rebuilding, Mr. McLaughlin said there is a lot of work to be done. The inside walls, roof and some outside walls will have to come down. It will probably mean building from scratch.
After doing a structural analysis of the building, Pastor McLaughlin said he may have to take the insurance company to court.