Their home and possessions may be gone, but Bob and Lori Ward are thankful for what they did not lose – their faith and their family.

Their home and possessions may be gone, but Bob and Lori Ward are thankful for what they did not lose – their faith and their family.

The rural Geneseo couple lost their home and its contents, garage and car in a fire the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 21.

Firefighters from Geneseo, Atkinson and Cambridge battled the blaze that destroyed the two-story farm house which had been home to the Ward family for more than 30 years.

Bob said, “I stand here in the ashes, and I still have my family so I still have everything. Lori made it out okay and I still have my four kids, so I feel blessed.”

His wife was the only one at home when the fire broke out and said she was reading her Bible at the time and when she saw the orange glow, she grabbed her coat and purse and walked out.

Bob said his wife did not see any flames, but did see the blinds in the room take on an orange glow.

“The orange was coming from the garage which is where the fire started,” he said. “Lori thought the corn field to the rear of our house was on fire and that was what was causing the orange glow.

“Our home is gone, and that’s OK because the Lord is with us and we’ve got our family,” she said.

And rather than look at their loss as an ending, the couple said they will build new beginnings.

The Dr. Rev. Chris Ritter, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo where the couple attends services, said, “Bob and Lori Ward have spend their lives giving to others and now that love is being returned. The fire left the couple without the home they used so often for Christian ministry.

“Bob and Lori’s house was a second home to so many young people in the Geneseo area,” Rev. Ritter said. “Through Walk on Water, a ministry they founded, the couple took hundreds of area youth to South Dakota to minister to the Lakota people. Some Lakota youth have also been hosted by the Wards.”

The house also was the site of many Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle groups.

In addition to the relief efforts established for the couple, donations of furniture and household goods are being coordinated through the Facebook page of First United Methodist Church.

Rev. Ritter said, “Members of our church happened to have a home ready for them to move into in Colona. The Ward’s four adult children have been on hand over the Thanksgiving holiday and have been working tirelessly to get their parents moved in.”

The Wards are the parents of Jillian (Travis) Andrews, of Whiteheath; Jessica (Brian) Haars, of Geneseo; Jacob (Ashley) Ward, of Bettendorf, Iowa; and Joshua Ward, of St. Louis, Mo.

Their children also spent hours at the site of what was once their home searching for their mother’s wedding ring which she had put in a drawer next to the couple’s bed.

“Our kids carried six five-gallon buckets of ashes out of what had been our bedroom and sorted through those ashes and found Lori’s wedding ring,” Bob said. “They also found other jewelry from family members.”

“Signs of God’s blessings have been evident even in the midst of disaster,” Rev. Ritter said. “A dresser full of family photos was miraculously spared. In the rubble that remains of their house there is an angel statue left hanging from the ceiling looking down toward the spot where Lori was seated when the fire broke out. We are all so thankful that her life was spared.”