Have you ever witnessed a miracle?


Believe it or not, most people believe there is a God, but a lot of people don't have faith because they are always looking for physical proof of his existence. They want to see the magician pull the rabbit out of the hat before they will even think about believing. God is not a magician. His work is not the sleight of hand. God performs miracles every second of every minute of every day.


Sometimes the miracle is so simple it just passes you by. How about the miracle of birth? My wife and I have five children and eight grandchildren and I witnessed most of their births. The birth of a child is nothing short of a miracle. A miracle given to us by God. And as long as we are talking about birth, what about the miracle of death? Yes, death is also a miracle. I stood at the foot of my mother-in-law’s death bed. I watched God take her by the hand and lead her to paradise. It was a miracle to witness this. Sometimes I pray for the miracle of death when I know for certain that the person’s quality of life has been taken away from them. Sometimes death is the best answer.


Two and one-half years ago my brother-in-law, John, was diagnosed with bone cancer. On Christmas Eve, 2012, I spoke with him on the phone. I believed it would be the last time I would speak to him. He was in a wheel chair and could barely walk. I immediately began to pray. Every hour! I begged God to save John. I contacted several Fire Chaplains from across NY State and they began to pray. God provided a miracle for John's cancer treatments and on Good Friday, 2013, John and I took a mile and a half walk together. I walked alongside the miracle that was provided by God.


But, the story doesn't end there. John is a retired Forest Ranger who spent several years fighting forest fires out west. He saved several people caught in a forest fire by leading them through the fire to safety. A miracle in itself. In the process he seared his lungs from the heat of the fire. John has had his ups and downs since 2013, but he is alive. He got the chance to meet his new grandson, and strong enough to do odd jobs in his community. A few weeks ago, we received a call to travel to Traverse, MI, where John was in intensive care, in a medically induced coma, with pneumonia. I again began to pray and contacted my Fire Chaplain friends again to pray. When we arrived, his condition was very grim and I was glad we had packed good clothes for what I thought was the inevitable. John's wife Barbara talked to the doctor who told her that he did not hold out much hope. Barbara asked the doctor if he had ever witnessed a miracle. The doctor replied, "No, I can't say that I have". She told the doctor to stick around and he was going to witness his first miracle. When I first walked in his room, I felt a presence that I recognized from other experiences like this. The presence of God. By the next day, I knew that my brother, John, was going to get better and walk out of that hospital. By Friday, I knew that God was in control. His bed was surrounded by angels. I told Barbara what I witnessed. I told that her that John was in good hands and my wife and I left for home. Seven days after being listed in grim condition and expected to die, the ventilator was removed. Two days later, John was sitting in a chair eating solid food. Two days after, John went home. At the time of this writing he is at home recovering from the pneumonia, living the miracle.


As firefighters, we must put our faith in God’s hands and ask him for miracles. Miracles for the people we serve, for our departments, for our brother and sister firefighters, and miracles for our families. But more importantly don't hesitate to ask God for a miracle for yourself. He can and will provide. If you have a burden on your heart, give that burden to God and expect an answer.


William Miles, Executive Secretary

New York State Association of Fire Chaplains


William Miles is a 41 year member of the Sweeney Hose Co. #7, North Tonawanda Fire Dept. and served as Company Chaplain for 25 years. He is also a 5 year member and Chaplain of the Niagara Hose Company, Tonawanda Fire Department and serves as Associate Chaplain of the Tonawanda Fire Department Chaplains’ Corps. William is a member of St. John's UCC Church of Buffalo, NY. He is also the Chaplain of the Sons of Amvets Post 13 of Buffalo. He joined the New York State Association of Fire Chaplains, Inc., in 1989, and served as Chief Chaplain from 2006-2008 and has served since 2012 as Executive Secretary.