Atheist-Turned-Christian Says Prayers Saved Thousands from Fires in Australia

Australian small business owner David Jeffery is proclaiming the name of God with a renewed boldness after escaping the deadly fires in his hometown.

Jeffery was among the thousands of people who sought refuge by the beach in the Australian town of Mallacoota as a massive fire threatened to engulf the entire town.

Jeffery told BBC News that residents of the small beach town were prepared to jump into the sea in order to save their lives from the roaring flames.

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“We were bracing for the worst. It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring,” Jeffery said.

Jeffery, who owns the Wave Oasis B&B in Mallacoota, told Australia’s Eternity News that God answered his desperate prayers to save their lives.

“We could hear the roar. It sounded like a thousand freight trains coming at us. Then a huge gust, like someone had opened the door of a furnace, pushed us. It went black as black. The smoke was so thick it was hard to breathe,” Jeffery said.

Jeffery was an atheist before converting to Christianity 25 years ago, he told Eternity.

Jeffery said that he intentionally mentioned his former atheism to media outlets in hopes that others who do not believe in God will think twice before dismissing his story he knows they will categorize as “ridiculous.”

According to Jeffery, as the wall of flames encroached, he and two other Christian believers began to pray that God would somehow spare their lives.

We were going to die,” Jeffery said. “If the Lord hadn’t answered this next prayer, we would have had 30 seconds.”

“I prayed, ‘Lord if you don’t push this [fire] back now, we need [wind] from the east.’”

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“As soon as I said that, it started blowing from the east a little bit. Then I got louder and [the wind] got stronger. Then I got louder again and it got stronger again.”

Encouraged, Jeffery continued to pray with greater boldness, not concerned with what others might have been thinking of him.

“I felt it change. I noticed that the bolder I got, the stronger [the wind got]. I was yelling, ‘In Jesus’ name, thank you Lord for rescuing these souls. Push it back Lord, rescue us!’”

A change in wind was not in the forecast, Jeffery said, but God, who created the wind, made it obey.

“What God did was push [the fire] back from the east, which was impossible but he did it. He did that for five minutes, which broke [the fire front] enough to stop it from getting to where we were,” he said.

As the flames shifted and the smoke began to clear from the beach, Jeffery and his fellow residents were able to see the fire wall move toward people’s homes — toward the Wave Oasis and residents who had chosen to stay and defend their properties.

Again, Jeffery felt prompted to pray.

“Then I heard God say to me, ‘pray’. I started off with a pathetic little prayer,” he said. “Then within me, this faith rose up and said ‘who are you praying to?’ And I thought, ‘Yes! You’re the God of the Bible. Nothing’s impossible with you! You’ve got angels Lord, put them at the corners of the property.”

A second time, God did the impossible for the people of Mallacoota.

“This was so impossible, but somehow God turned off the flames, like flicking off a switch. All the fuel was still there — the houses were still there, the grass was there.”

Even Jeffery’s non-Christian neighbors were convinced that God saved them, witnessing firsthand that nothing could have stopped the flames except for the Creator of the world.

Jeffery is now using his small business as a refuge for police and emergency responders who need a meal and a place to sleep. He is also using his newfound media platform to proclaim the name of Jesus.

His heart is broken for those who did lose their homes and lives, but is also hopeful that the crisis will bring people back to God.

Jeffery wants people to know that “there is a God and he does love them, that the only safe place is behind that cross.”