DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (BNC) by Robert Alexandre — Last night here at College Avenue we met for our regular Wednesday evening service at 7 p.m. Around 7:25 p.m., my wife Susan was teaching her class and started to smell smoke. She went next door to make sure the other teacher wasn’t burning a candle.

When my wife saw the other teacher did not have a candle lit, she asked me to check my office while removing the kids from the area. I had her call another man back there. She checked the storage room, and it was on fire. She grabbed the fire extinguisher and handed it to the man who came to help.

I called the police. When everyone had entered the building that evening they noticed nothing odd. When my family and I got there around 6 pm, we found nothing odd or out of the ordinary. We believe that sometime between 7:00 and 7:25 someone sneaked into our supply room and started the fire.

Fortunately the fire was small, and when my wife and the other brother found it, the fire had not yet spread to paint cans that were in this room nor to the carpet where it could easily spread. We are thankful to God that no major damages were sustained.

We also recognize that if we had been any later in recognizing the problem that this would not have been the case.

We got home at 11:30 p.m., after finishing the first part of the investigation. It is arson. It is considered a hate crime and because we were in service and thus occupying the building it is considered attempted murder.

The state investigator has taken our statements and we had to sign sworn affidavits. The ATF from Georgia was here overnight. The investigation is ongoing.

Please pray for our congregation as we seek to serve the Lord in the town of DeFuniak Springs.

Robert Alexander is the preacher working with the College Avenue congregation. The photo above depicts the congregation 2014 Vacation Bible School.