from our partnerFaithwire
written byWill Maule
Over two months after the deadliest wildfire in California history, the lasting effect of the fierce flames is still abundantly clear. The town of Paradise is slowly rebuilding its infrastructure after being utterly decimated by the blaze, which claimed the lives of 86 people and destroyed almost 20,000 structures.
Among those gutted buildings were many Churches, several of which must be rebuilt from the ground up. More fortunate congregations have sprung into action, however, serving the local community with compassion and care. One of these is Magalia Pines Baptist Church, which runs a wildfire recovery center for those who were displaced by the fast-moving flames.
Staggeringly, the small congregation is managing to pump out 300-500 meals a day for any local folk in need. But it hasn’t been plain sailing. At several points, the church’s pastor, Doug Crowder, was convinced that the team was going to run out of foodstuffs–until God orchestrated some miraculous provision.
When Crowder realized that the center did not have enough bread to cook up the stacks of french toast they had hoped to serve at breakfast the next day, he was rather nervous. Then, a man named “Chuck” showed up out of the blue. As it transpired, he was from the local food bank.
“Hi, I’m Chuck…. Our warehouse burned down, and we need to get rid of some stuff. Do you need any bread?” he asked, according to Baptist Press. That little moment of provision, Crowder noted, has become a common occurrence since the compassion ministry launched with no money or resources to its name.
Astoundingly, Crowder has chosen to focus on ministry and outreach to others, despite his own home burning down in the blaze. And since the congregation started setting their minds to helping others, the resources began to flow. The pastor said his center started to receive large amounts of produce, meat, a forklift, RVs, tools, clothes, propane and enough water to distribute some twelve tons per day.
“We didn’t actually go looking for anything,” Crowder said. “God just keeps bringing the stuff,” like “that ridiculous water supply.” He called the blessing a “worldwide flood” of provision that could only have come from the Lord.
Still, Magalia Pines continues to plow on with its day-to-day ministry. Since the fires, two weddings have taken place at the church, and many salvations have been celebrated. “God and this church saved my life. The least I can do is give it to Him,” one newlywed said following his decision to marry his long-term partner.
In the wake of such utter destruction, other faith leaders are calling for a covering of prayer over the affected community. “This is a time to pray for them that God’s presence would be revealed in a very loving way,” said director of missions for the local Sierra Butte Baptist Association, Charles Woods, adding that “even through the fires and flight, God is still there.”
The church’s role in helping aid those in need may be brought to the forefront of relief efforts, particularly since President Donald Trump has threated to withdraw federal aid provided to the region in the wake of the inferno. “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” he tweeted yesterday. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
The President’s bizarre comments were met with fierce rebuke from both sides of the aisle. “Mr. President — Just yesterday, @OregonGovBrown, @GovInslee, and I sent a letter asking the federal government to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires,” tweeted California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom. “We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives.”
Mr. President — Just yesterday, @OregonGovBrown, @GovInslee, and I sent a letter asking the federal government to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires. We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives. https://t.co/GjIVr6yxOP
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 9, 2019
German insurance giant Munich Re announced earlier this week that the wildfires had been the world’s most costly national disaster of 2018. November’s “Camp Fire” caused overall losses of $16.5 billion, according to AP.
Do pray for all those who are continuing to rebuild their lives in the wake of such enormous devastation.