Emotional Sunday as church family gathers for first time since fire took three young lives

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SHEBOYGAN FALLS -- It was an emotional day on Sunday, January 31st inside the Lake Country Academy in Sheboygan, as Crossroads Community Church held its first service since three young people lost their lives after a house fire in Sheboygan Falls. The fire happened on Tuesday night, January 26th, and the three children who died will be remembered on Monday.

Eleven-year-old Natalie Martin, 10-year-old Benjamin Martin and seven-year-old Carter Maki died at hospitals after a fire at their home near 5th and Western Avenue in Sheboygan Falls.

Maki Family (GoFundMe page)

Maki Family (GoFundMe page)

Nine-year-old Jenna Martin survived the fire. She was able to get out of the home safely after she was alerted to the fire by her older sister Natalie. Natalie then went back into the home to look for her other two siblings. Firefighters used thermal imaging technology and found the three children in an upstairs bedroom.

Natalie Martin, Ben Martin and Carter Maki died at hospitals after the fire. Ben Martin's organs were used to save five lives after his death.

"Chris and Kristi are amazing people who love Jesus. They're devoted to following him, and they did nothing to deserve this tragedy," Jeff Jaeger, lead pastor at Crossroads Community Church said on Sunday.

Jeff Jaeger, lead pastor at Crossroads Community Church

Jeff Jaeger, lead pastor at Crossroads Community Church

Pastor Jaeger tried to help his grieving church community understand why three young children were taken from this Earth so soon. He said some questions don't have simple answers.

"So what we can rest on is the fact that God promises to give us his love, even when we sure wish at the time that he would be willing to give us his knowledge," Pastor Jaeger said. "Their whole world has been turned upside down. They`ve been absolutely crushed by what`s happened and yet again I come back to the Bible, which talks about that there is a supernatural peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus when we bring our request in front of him and lay them in front to God and say 'I will trust you for the results' -- and we have really witnessed that in their lives," Pastor Jaeger said.

This tragedy has touched many, who have contributed to the more than $125,000 raised for the Maki family since Tuesday's fire.

"The fact is, God is still good. God is still good even in the midst of what the Maki family is going through this week," Pastor Jaeger said.

Following Sunday's church service, there were grief counselors and prayer groups for those who needed them.

Crossroads Community Church in Sheboygan

Crossroads Community Church in Sheboygan

On Monday, February 1st a visitation will be held from 1:30-6:30 p.m. at Southside Alliance Church (4321 Co Rd A, Sheboygan) with a memorial service to follow at 6:30 p.m.

Pastor Jeff Jaeger and staff of Crossroads Community Church (www.crossroadssheboygan.org) will be overseeing the memorial service. Wenig Funeral Home in Sheboygan Falls (www.wenigfuneralhome.com) is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.

MC Sports and Best Buy in Sheboygan have graciously granted permission for their parking lots to be used for overflow parking. Otte Bus Company of Cedar Grove is donating drivers and two buses to shuttle people to/from Southside Alliance. This shuttle service will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will continue until after the memorial service has concluded.

Many people have contacted the family and church asking how they can help. If you would like to be put on an email list to be notified of the household needs of the family at a later date, please CLICK HERE to share your name and email address.

A fund has been set up at Associated Bank in Sheboygan by the Maki’s home church for people who wish to provide a donation to help the family. People can make checks payable to “Crossroads Community Church” and “Maki Family” written on an attached note, but please do not write their name on the check memo line. These donations can be dropped off at the Sheboygan Associated Bank location or can be mailed to Crossroads Community Church, PO BOX 1427, Sheboygan, WI 53082-1427. The Maki Family will receive 100% of all funds donated.

CLICK HERE to make a donation through a Go Fund Me account established for the family.

Here are some fundraiser events announced on the Go Fund Me page.

  • Culvers in Plymouth
    Saturday February 6th from 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. 10% of sales will be donated
  • Pizza Ranch in Sheboygan
    Wednesday February 10th. 20% of sales from 3:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. plus tips/cash donations.
  • Van Horn Chevy in Plymouth
    The entire month of February 5% of all sales from Service and Collision center will be donated.

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