Home is gone but hope endures

Everyday Stewardship |

Faith, support lift up family after fire

Bender house fire aftermath

This is what the Bender family’s home in southern Lancaster County, Pa., looked like after a fire in January 2012. (Photos supplied by the Bender family).

Picture this – during a brief gap in coverage as you’re switching your homeowner’s insurance from one carrier to another, your house burns down.

That’s what happened in January 2012 to Dan and Fan Bender of New Providence in Lancaster County, Pa. The Benders have three daughters – Katrina Snyder, 28, Courtney, 26, and Jenny, 17 – and one son, Jesse, 24. Courtney and Jenny, a junior at Solanco High School this fall, live with their parents.

Avalanche of support

For the Benders, what began as a catastrophe set things in motion that they never saw coming.

“I have learned what a truly wonderful and unique community we live in,” said Fan. “Neighbors, community friends, church friends – even my daughter’s field hockey coaches – showed up at the site within an hour to be with us and support us that day.”

An avalanche of help picked up speed from there. “Bags of clothing started showing up the very next day and checks started arriving in the mail – some from people we didn’t even know,” Fan said. Teachers from Jenny’s school brought meals and friends provided housing.

Dan’s customers also came forward. Dan runs a one-man remodeling business and has “always valued the relationships with my clients, but the insistence of many of them to help us get back on our feet caught me a little off guard.”

And volunteers are playing a big role in building the family a new home on the lot where their previous house stood for nearly 30 years.

Everence is helping too

An Everence Sharing Fund grant – made possible by people who do business with Everence – is part of the larger effort to help the family recover and rebuild.

Nancy Becker is the Everence advocate at Refton Brethren in Christ Church, where the Benders are active. “Our church would not be what it is without them,” Nancy said. “They’ve thrown themselves into the Lord’s work at Refton.”

God’s hand at work

Fan never considered the fire a test of faith. As the community responded, “It really felt like God was showing me just how much he really cares for me and loves me, as well as showing me that other people care about me too.”

Bender house on fire

Firefighters try to contain the blaze at the Bender home. Because the interior of the house was collapsing, fighting the fire had to be done only from the outside. A fire official told a local newspaper that it was impossible to save the home.

“I could never say, ‘I wish it never happened’ or ‘I wish we could go back,’” she continued. “So many positives have come out of this tragedy that it’s impossible not to see God’s hand in all of this and for that, I am grateful.”


The Benders hope their new home will be ready by Christmas. Dan is overseeing and doing a good share of the work himself, but volunteers are doing what they can to lighten the load.

The Benders recently had a framing party. Their church family, neighbors and other friends wrote blessings and prayers on the subfloor, beams, studs and rafters – as Fan says, “to completely cover our home with God’s presence.”

There’s no denying that Fan misses the photos and family mementoes that were lost, but she says the family is doing fine. In fact, she thinks, “It was harder for other people looking on than it was for us to go through it; God’s grace truly is sufficient for those going through the difficulty.”

This story comes from a recent grant application to the Everence Sharing Fund. In some cases, names have been changed out of respect for the privacy of the families.

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Everence staff

Everyday Stewardship

When you buy an Everence product, you become part of a community that provides financial support to those in need. It's called the Everence Sharing Fund, and it's one of the distinctive ways we support our members and their communities.


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