GREENVILLE, Ky. (2/24/14) — It has been less than a month since Chad Watson and his daughter, Kylie, lost the rest of their family in a tragic house fire in Depoy.
Since Jan. 30 when the fire, ignited by a baseboard heater, took the lives of his wife, Nikki, and eight of their nine children, Watson has miraculously gone from the critical list at Vanderbilt Hospital to a podium center stage at Felix E. Martin Jr. Hall.
Watson began his message Sunday by thanking the first responders, local churches, the people of Muhlenberg County and the many others across the nation who have been touched by the event, and offered a helping hand.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have all helped to soften our sorrow," Watson said.
Watson noted that he and his family had planned this event while he was still in critical condition.
Doctors first thought massive skin grafting would be needed, and also noted serious concerns about severe burn damage to Watson's lungs.
"Some said 'Chad, you may not even be well enough to speak'. But I said, 'I'll be there,'" Watson told the crowd. "I am here because I want people to remember how my family lived, not how they died. I am not here to share with you precious memories of my wife and children. I am not up here to tell you about each one of their personalities, how they were so unique and so special. I am up here to tell you what gave them life. And that is Jesus Christ."
Watson stood with confidence before a packed audience, and spoke with a conviction and urgency that can only come from someone who has faced unimaginable personal loss and is now turning it into a message of hope and victory over loss.
"I have told my friends and family, I don't know how many times, that I was the most blessed man on Earth. To have the children that I have, the number of children that I have...it was never a burden to me. To see each of the them healthy and vibrant. I was more blessed than anyone. But in one night, I had it all taken away from me. Ripped out of my hands. They were being taken home. And the only one who could stop it, was allowing it to happen. But where am I to go? Who can I go to for comfort but to Him?" Watson asked.
Watson went on to tell the crowd that he has tried to never take the blessing of his large family for granted.
"I was keenly aware, all my life, as I was raising these children, that they were gifts from the hands of God. That hasn't changed. He did me good. He did my soul good. They were gifts to all those who were around them. Don't get me wrong. We had to struggle. We never seemed to have enough. We never could seem to make it work. But that was okay, because we had each other," Watson said.
Watson closed by reading a message he had found one day on the Facebook page of his one surviving daughter, Kylie.
It read: "Many people have said to me that they don't think they could go through what I must be going through. How do I do it? My answer is God. That's how. God is everything. He is deserving of our praise no matter what situation we are in," 11-year-old Kylie wrote.
With that, Watson closed his message by saying, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."
The service also included music for meditation from Debbie Heltsley, special music from Marquetta Allberti and Tammy McGehee, special music from Bro. Bryant L. McClellan and the Calvary Church Choir, special music from Sara Burden Cartwright, a prayer from Bro. Time Burden of Calvary Baptist Church, an alter call from Bro. Adam Brown of Temple Baptist Church, and the benediction from Bro. Kevin McGehee of New Midway Missionary Baptist Church.Expressions of sympathy can be made to: Old National Bank, First KY Bank, First National Bank or Commonwealth Community Bank.
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