By Allison Tran
The world is a wild place and we never know what could or will happen in the future. About twenty other church members and I had the opportunity to visit victims of the Camp Fire in Chico two weeks after the fire broke out in the neighboring city of Paradise. We served at Neighborhood Church, a local C&MA church, that was serving as a fire relief evacuation center. Most of the time, when natural disasters strike, or when so much is lost, many people question God or turn away from His goodness. They continuously ask why He would do such a thing to them. Some other Youth and I were working to sort out donations and give people resources that they needed. Many people would come in and ask for socks or shampoo, and be appreciative of what we could offer them, but you could tell that a part of them was still missing and that they were hopeless. One man, by the name of Randy, was extremely different. He had long white hair, some missing teeth, a blue jacket, and a wooden walking stick. Besides just asking for socks and a gray shirt, he also asked for prayer. He shared that he was a former police officer and that his home was the only one still standing in his neighborhood. He would continuously praise the Lord for his survival and for the church community that had provided so much for him and the other victims. Rather than just sitting around and read a book, he would go around and share his story and God’s faithfulness with the other victims. He was a sign of hope for these people.
I personally received the phrase “New start” from God. The fire destroyed so much in so little time. In a way, the land is starting from the bottom again. Crops have to be replanted, houses must be rebuilt, and communities must come together. I really felt that God was showing the fire victims that it is not just a physical rebuilding, but a spiritual rebuilding as well. God wants to give people a second chance; He wants to show redemption to His children. Through Randy’s actions, we could see the hope he was giving others. Every person he shared his story with smiled a little more or found more hope in their situation. Randy was teaching people to rebuild their trust and reliance on God rather than relying on the worldly possessions they had lost. He was directing people back to God, showing them that if the church had not helped out, the past 14 days would have been an even bigger disaster.