As many of you know, the devastation caused by the Camp Fire has directly impacted two of our alliance churches. I have never been in a situation where I have heard and said so many times, "Words fail. There are no words to describe this."
It is in times like this that we have no choice but to rely on the Lord like the Psalmist in Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." And then the end of the chapter, vs 10-11, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."
Status of Paradise Alliance Church (PAC)
Out of 21 staff members, we have confirmed 16 lost their homes, including PAC Pastor Josh Gallagher, who has only been at the church for 3 months. A few have confirmed that their homes are safe, and others just don't know yet. We don't yet have the number of families in the church who have lost homes, but it is scores - we can estimate it will be 90% of the church body.
Chico Pastors Andrew Burchett and Mark Volstad were able to drive through Paradise with one of the relief effort organizations. Andrew got some pictures of the PAC. You can see some of the fire damage - but only to trees and shrubs! PAC Executive Pastor Tim Bolin has been able to walk through the building and confirms that everything is fine - just some smoke damage.
Even though we have one church in Paradise, there are two congregations that have been displaced. The second is our Hispanic church, Templo Bethania with Pastor Carlos Palacios. This congregation of 60 people has been meeting at PAC on Sunday afternoons. Thankfully Pastor Carlos did not lose his home, but several from their congregation did.
Pastor Carlos says, "There are no words to describe what this fire has caused to the city of Paradise and the surrounding communities. Our brothers and sisters have been experiencing first-hand God's immeasurable love and care in the middle of adversity. Three families from our church have lost their homes. Despite their hardships, they keep helping, praying, and supporting others evacuees with all they have left."
God is the God of AND
On Sunday, nearly 2000 people gathered at Neighborhood Church of Chico (NC Chico) for combined services with Paradise Alliance Church (PAC). PAC pastor Josh Gallagher brought the message and encouraged his people to grieve, and to grieve well.
He spoke of the importance to remember that God is the God of AND - we can be Sad and Happy, be Angry and Love, have Questions and Faith, Fear and Trust, Cry and Smile. This is exactly where so many of these precious people are at right now and it is okay to have both at this time.We are all so grateful to NC Chico for taking in this sister church and providing a home for this season.
Needs at Neighborhood Church of Chico
In Chico, our Hispanic congregation, Cristo Salva with Pastor Mark Volstad has also been displaced, but for a different reason. Yes, because of the fire, but their meeting room has become part of the evacuation center at NC Chico.
The room that Cristo Salva congregates in has been converted into a Red Cross Medical Facility where patients with chronic health issues are being attended to.
We don't know for how long this room will be needed for that cause so the Spanish church will have to make a transition and meet somewhere else until they can eventually return.
Mark says, "We want to love people well in their darkest hour, as members of the Alliance Hispanic Church, Cristo Salva, we are letting our light shine. Thank you for your support and prayers."
Pastor Andrew has also shot a video for you to help explain the great need they face as they continue to minister to the evacuees at their building.
How You Can Help
There are a lot of volunteers coming to the NC Chico evacuation center right now. While they do need help, if you want to come and volunteer, please sign up on this Google Doc.
- You can click here to view the volunteer schedule and add your name.
- The Google Doc is also posted on the Neighborhood Church of Chico Facebook Page.
- Go to the "Posts" tab to the left, and you can open the Google Doc to see when help is needed most.
- You can also get to it from their website, www.ncchico.org, as the home screen scrolls, you will see a button "Evacuation Center Volunteer Signup Click Here."
Since there is essentially no town to go back to, we really have no idea how long this will go on.
As we have shared, of course they need your financial help. You can give directly to either church, sending it straight to:
Neighborhood Church of Chico
2801 Notre Dame Blvd
Chico, CA 95928
Central Pacific District Office
715 Lincoln Ave
Woodland, CA 95695
You can also give online through Push Pay. After you login, just search for Neighborhood Church of Chico and there will be a category for Benevolence or Camp Fire- both categories will be used for families of PAC and NC Chico who have lost their homes.
CAMP FIRE: Latest Update (7AM November 16, 2018)
Acreage burned: 142,000
Death Toll: 63
Reported missing persons: 630
Homes Destroyed: 9,818
Commercial Buildings Destroyed: 230
If you are seeking further information about the Camp Fire, we suggest monitoring the following resources:
- Twitter: Butte County Sheriff
- Twitter: CHP Headquarters
- Twitter: Butte County, CA
- Facebook: Chico Police Department
- Action News Now