Good News in the Redding, Carr Fire

According to Wikipedia, the Redding, California ‘Carr fire’ is a monster of a record-breaking wildfire affecting Shasta and Trinity Counties in California.  Last count I saw was almost 230,000 acres burned.   Sadly there has been 8 fatalities.    USA Today says that there have been more than 1000 homes destroyed and many more damaged.  Words like apocalyptic are used to describe this historic fire — many are devastated, please pray for them, they need the good news, and they need the Lord’s Comfort.

Bringing the good news to Carr one at a time

I have a brother in Christ who lives in the area of the Carr fire.   He decided to see if there was some place that he could do some volunteering on the weekend when he wasn’t working.  He had a friend who came from out of town to help who was volunteering at one of the large camps setup for the utility workers.

He mentioned ordering some gospel booklets, so I contacted Pastor Cucuzza and asked him if he could get them to my friend quickly.  And thankfully Tom and Christy got it done right away.   Download for free here, or contact their office for pre-printed ‘How to go to Heaven’ booklets.   Or if you’d like to know some things more in-depth, you can feel free to read here.

Heavy Smoke at the Carr Fire

It was the beginning of August and I was concerned for how he was doing, especially in light of the fire tornadoes that were 2700 degrees traveling at 165 mph.  So frightening.  He said it was smoky there and people were wearing face masks.    He showed up early in the morning at one of the evacuation centers at a local University and said they were very appreciative of the help.  (I can only imagine how much).

They put him to work unloading donated clothing off U-haul trucks.  He also led people through rooms where they could collect hygiene supplies along with food and water.

Samaritan’s Purse was (still is) in town and they were gearing up to lead a very large cleanup campaign on the parcels where homes had burned down.

Samaritan’s Purse helps out many physically, so please pray they might get the gospel clear some day.  See some of these links to find out what’s wrong with Billy Graham, Franklin Graham or Samaritan’s Purse’s gospel.

My friend in Christ filled me in on some of the goings on in the area, so I’ll just share his words:

“Keswick is a very small community west of Redding that burned exceptionally hot.   Just today they finally opened that area for landowners to return to their properties.  I was in the Red Cross office this morning when a call came in from the field requesting spiritual counselors, because so many of those returning were distraught and breaking down. Pray for these folks.

I met a couple last weekend from Keswick. They had not been allowed in, but my job allowed me to get access during the week.  I took a picture for them of where their house had been.  It had burned so hot, there was nothing left, no frame, no anything.

After spending some time at Red Cross this morning, I was not able to volunteer today, because my background check did not get completed.  They suggested that I could contact Bethel Church, because they had a lot going on.  I took a pass on that.  I will give it another try tomorrow with Red Cross.”

See why Bethel Church is Problematic

Sharing the Gospel in the midst of tragedy

About a week later I received another email from my friend, it blessed me tremendously so I asked his permission to share.  I believe far more people than not experience these difficulties when trying to share the gospel, so maybe this might help others.

 

“Hi Holly,

I was waiting to respond back to you in the hopes that I would develop some good news.  When you told me you were having Cucuzza booklets sent to me, I became very worried and a little panic set in that I was going to let you down on this mission. 

My best opportunity to get them out was the week prior to their arrival, when all the evacuation centers were very active and I was there helping out.  That would have been the easiest scenario.  I am extremely quiet socially, so I knew that was also going to make it difficult.  But, with them closed, I needed another place where I could get involved, so I signed on with Samaritan’s Purse.  I have now spent about 28 hours donating my time with them pulling debris and sifting through ashes for people that have lost their homes.  Very dirty work in triple digit temperatures, and much of it done while wearing Tyvek suits and filter masks. 

SP is incredibly organized and has access to an amazing amount of resources.  I don’t agree with Samaritan’s Purse Statement of Faith and I expressed my disagreement with the project leadership.  They asked, and I wanted them to know up front the “what and why” of this disagreement (even my stepping forward to do that is huge for me). 

The work that I was doing gave me only minimal access to the homeowners, but I found that I could talk to other volunteers and team leaders.  I think the mission field became the volunteers.  I was able to have a talk with one of the Billy Graham chaplains that meet with the homeowners. We talked on the subject of repentance of sins in their SOF.  He appreciated receiving the Cucuzza booklet.  I also had good discussion with one of my team leaders.  During a break, he started rattling on about a lot of LS (lordship) type stuff.  I began to walk away shaking my head a little, but then found myself turning back to engage him.  I found that it was easier to talk to him about it than I would have expected.  He came back with a lot of the usual James 2:19 and 2 Cor 13:5 type responses, but he was yielding when I tried to explain these verses with more context.  I think we get used to the stubborn internet types; but he was coming back to me with remarks like “I didn’t think of that, you make a good point”.

Today, I made a third visit to a new local church, on an invitation.  It was the first time hearing the pastor, though.  It doesn’t sound promising…surprise, surprise.  I did get him aside after the service to ask for a SOF, which so far I was unable to locate anywhere.  He said that he would send it to me in an email.  I handed him the Cucuzza booklet, telling him this would explain some of what I am looking for, and that I would enjoy discussing it with him the next time we meet.  He will know it is over, though, when he reads it, because when I told him that repentance of sin is not a Biblical requirement for salvation, he responded “how do you get saved then?”   Oops, wrong response.

You are pushing me out of my comfort zone, Holly.  I am not comfortable approaching people like this.  It is hard!  But, maybe it is not quite as hard as I thought.  It does make me want to prepare myself in the Word more. 

Unless I find another area to volunteer, I will likely be back at sifting ashes next weekend and, hopefully, have an opportunity to engage others.”

He finished with a sweet yet funny story most can likely relate to:

“So, another team lead (I had a few over various days), somehow had me singled out as a presenter, for whatever reason I have no idea, because that is the farthest of anything I should be thought of.  Every one of us signs a Bible that gets presented to the landowner that we are working on at the time.  First home of the day he asks me if I will do the presentation.  What!?  I did it, but I am very uncomfortable with that sort of thing. 

 Next house, following presentation and while we are all in a very large circle looking at each other, he turns and asks me to pray the team out, adding “I like your prayers”.   What?! He has never heard me pray in his whole life, but no way can I argue with everyone plus the homeowner staring at me.  Oy vey!”

I too believe (with my friend in Christ) that a lot of these things are difficult for most/many of us.  Some believe somehow that if we have been speaking out that it comes naturally to us.   Not necessarily so.  I don’t think too many of us do this easily — we need the prayer and support of others.  We also should pray for opportunity and to be able to speak His Word in boldness.  Trust in Him, Delight in Him, Commit our way to Him.   

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Phil 4:13

God bless my friend and others to bring the clear good news to those who are hurting.

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