Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Carmela Myles had just graduated from college with her Master’s degree in Higher Education and Educational Leadership, and was on her way to Florida to start her new job. She hadn’t been in Florida for 24 hours, when she got the call that changed everything. Carmela’s grandmother was sick, and wanted her to move to Chicago to help her. Carmela stopped everything she was doing, and caught the next flight there. When she arrived in July of 2015, she found out that her grandmother was sicker than she thought. Her grandmother was placed in hospice care, and wasn’t given much time to live. Carmela decided that she was going to stay in Chicago with her grandmother in her final months, and serve as her caretaker. While in Chicago, she received three different job offers in other states, but she stayed by her grandmother’s side until she passed in October 2015.
After Carmela’s reason for staying in Chicago no longer existed, her job opportunities seemed to vanish as well. She struggled to find a job for several months, but eventually was offered a job at her church in June of 2016. Since she had been out of work for so long, her financial situation was very unstable. While working to save enough to get her own place, she continued to stay with family. In March of 2017, Carmela was just starting to feel secure when everything that she had worked to get was suddenly taken away from her. While she was out grabbing food during her lunch break, she got a call from a relative telling her to rush home because there was a fire at the house. She came home, to find police and fire trucks flooding her block.
When she approached the building, the fire department informed her that the fire took place in the section of the house where she lived. Carmela and her family just stood there, and consoled each other, as they watched the home that they loved burn down in flames. The fire department was eventually able to put out the fire, and allowed the family to enter in the home to see if they could salvage anything. Carmela went upstairs to her section of the house, where most of the damage was done, to see if anything survived the fire. When she arrived in her room, everything was destroyed. As she stood there in a state of shock, her eyes suddenly drifted towards the section where a table use to stand. The table had completely melted to the ground, but at the top of the table rested her grandmother’s bible. She saw the bible was laying there open, so she went to pick it up. She quickly inspected the bible, and saw that it was slightly singed around the edges and the cover of the bible came off, but the word itself was left untouched. In that moment, Carmela found peace in knowing that in the midst of the fire, the Word of God still stands.
Although she had nothing left but the clothes on her back, she felt that the bible was a sign from God that everything was going to be alright. So that evening she decided to go to bible study like she had originally planned. When she arrived to church, she didn’t mention a word to anyone about the fire. She happened to run into her supervisor who is a member of her church. They asked her if she was okay because they noticed she hadn’t returned to work that afternoon. She explained to them that there was a fire at her house, but everyone was okay. The pastor got wind of what happened to Carmela, and gave her gift cards that she was able to use to get some basic toiletries and clothes for the next day. Carmela showed up to work the next day as normal, but she had no idea the type of response she would get from everyone at the church. Phone calls, cards, and money from people started pouring in. People who she didn’t even know reached out to her to extend prayer and monetary support. Within a matter of two weeks, she was in her own apartment that was fully furnished and the only piece of furniture that she had bought for herself was the bed. God restored everything she lost, and more.
That moment served as a spiritual awakening in Carmela’s life. All of a sudden she had a sense of urgency to pursue what God was calling her to do, and made the decision to enroll in seminary school. She is now currently a student at Loyola University pursuing her Masters degree in Divinity and Pastoral Counseling. This experience taught her that she can no longer put things off until tomorrow, but must live each day with a sense of purpose. Her purpose is to help spread the word of God, because she knows from personal experience, that the Word is the only thing that will be able to stand in the midst of the fire.