Robinwood pastor, wife rebuild life after apartment fire took everything

Robinwood pastor, wife rebuild life after apartment fire took everything

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Louise Geiger says she wishes she could remember the girl’s name.

The smoke was getting thicker in the apartment, so black that Louise couldn’t really see, only feel around as she looked for her husband’s wallet on the dresser.

“She just kept yelling at me, ‘You need to get out of here,’” Louise said.

‘Like an angel’

She and her husband, Ron — pastor of Robinwood Baptist Church, Birmingham — had been sitting in their apartment watching a game on TV on Jan. 20 when he saw flames out the back window. He yelled and they went outside.

But as Ron ran from door to door telling people about the fire in their building Louise decided to go back for her scooter and her purse.

“I can’t walk very well so I need that scooter to get around,” she said. 

The young college-aged girl had gone back in with her, and as the smoke thickened she told Louise it was time to go.

“She was like an angel,” Louise said. “She knew I had a wheelchair and I needed help. She got me outside and we went across to get away from the smoke and the flames.”

If she hadn’t Louise might’ve stayed longer — how do you know what to leave behind when you’ve been married 59 years? 

Everything they owned, including wedding pictures and her husband’s wallet and hearing aid, went up in flames that day. But God has cared for her and her husband in ways from small to big, she said.

“It was cold outside that day, and as we were out in the parking lot, a man from an apartment nearby came running over with two bedspreads to wrap me up in them,” she said.

The Geigers have been able to stay with their son while they look for a house, and other family members and people from Robinwood Baptist have brought them clothes and other items to help them get going.

Ron said Romans 8:28 has taken on a whole new depth of meaning for him.

“I always believed that verse but it’s become very personal,” he said. “It’s very reassuring and strengthens you to have that reality even when things look very dark and confusing.”

Before coming to Robinwood Baptist a year and a half ago he and his wife had a long ministry together in Montgomery and in Arizona, where he served with the North American Mission Board as a director of missions.

Stronger than before

After Louise developed health issues they moved back to Alabama and settled in Birmingham.

“We thought we were settled but then Jan. 20 came along and everything changed,” Ron said. “That’s kind of our story I guess. But it’s not going to destroy us. We expect to come out on the other end stronger.”