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Delivered from the flames

By NICOLE BARDO-COLON
Published June 5, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG

She is calling it a miracle.

Her garage and two cars were destroyed in a fire, but her Bible, which was sitting in the back seat of one car, was left virtually intact.

Chandra Busgith said this was a sign, a calling to share the story of her past and the obstacles God has brought her through.

"It's like a destiny for us, " she said. "If God has a plan for you, he'll take you through."

Busgith, 51, and her husband, Henry, 57, live in Brighton Bay, in the Gandy area.

On May 12, the day before Mother's Day, their 1993 Ford Mustang LX caught on fire. The blaze quickly spread to the other car in the garage, a 2003 Toyota Camry.

Busgith was upstairs when she heard a popping noise, but thought it was neighborhood kids playing. Eventually her husband went to check the garage. When he opened the door, the flames jumped out and singed his hair.

"I yelled, 'Fire, fire!' And I told everyone to get out of the house, " Henry Busgith said.

His mother and his wife's mother were staying with them that night, so the family could worship together the next morning at the River at Tampa Bay Church.

The garage will have to be rebuilt. The house sustained extensive smoke damage.

"We've seen some of the strangest things, " said Lt. Rick Feinberg, public information officer with the St. Petersburg Fire Department. "People think they've lost everything, but if it's protected from the fire there's a good chance it could be saved."

The day after the blaze, Busgith's mother-in-law told her she should go look for the Bible. She had left it on the back seat of the Camry.

"I said, 'Oh, Mom, don't worry about it. I can always get another Bible, ' " Busgith said. "But something told me to go and look."

Busgith found the Bible in the same place she had left it. The cover was burned, and the edges of the leather binding and of some notes she had tucked between the pages were blackened, but no words had been burned. Busgith, a devoutly religious woman, has told her story of the survival of the Bible to anyone who would listen, including a homeless man, employees of a discount store, neighbors and friends. She is documenting her journey through pictures and a scrapbook.

Her past is an important part of what she has come through, she says. Her great-grandparents were sent from India to British Guiana, now known as Guyana, to make a better life for themselves. In 1980, during turmoil in Guyana, Chandra and Henry Busgith came to the United States to improve their lives as well. They brought as many clothes as they could and $15 each.

Mrs. Busgith now works for an insurance company, and her husband is employed by an aircraft interior manufacturer.

"I have ancestors still living in poverty ... but God has brought us through, " she said.

She recently had a party to thank all those who helped her family in their time of need. Alice Filson, a neighbor, helped to organize the block party. She said the recovery of the Bible was "amazing."

"From time to time God lets us know he is with us and he is on our side, " Filson said.

The Busgiths say it will be another six months before they can move back into their home. But they believe God has brought them through this for a reason.

"Jesus faced public ridicule, " she said. "We shouldn't be ashamed of what we have and everybody who has touched our lives."

Nicole Bardo-Colon can be reached at 893-8779 or nbardo-colon@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 5, 2007, 00:19:49]


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