Blessings in the ashes

Sisters in Christ brought together by massive California wildfire.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

VENTURA, Calif. — For the last few years, DeLoyce “Dee” Hathway and Crystal Rabe worshiped together each Sunday.

However, the Ventura Church of Christ members never really connected.

In a weekly assembly filled with 150 souls, Hathway — who jokes that she’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary of her 39th birthday in September — sat toward the back.

Before Edward William Hathway, Dee’s husband of 69 years, died on Feb. 16, 2017, he battled lung cancer for years.

“So I had to get him out, take care of him more,” the World War II veteran’s widow said of her quick exits after the closing prayer.

Rabe, who lost her own husband, Tom, eight years ago, occupied a pew up front, taking advantage of the church’s special technology for the hearing impaired.

That meant Rabe, who placed membership in 2014, seldom crossed paths with Hathway, a Ventura church member since Harry Truman was president.

Standing to sing, the women recognized each other’s faces from across the auditorium.

But they had no idea they lived 10 houses apart in a neighborhood known for “its winding streets and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean,” as the Ventura County Star described it.

Then came the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in California’s modern history.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the March 2018 edition of The Christian Chronicle.