As wildfires rage in Northern California, at least 13 people have been killed and more than 1,500 buildings have been burned down. Thousands of acres have been destroyed.
The Baptist Press has reported that Baptist churches have begun a robust effort in helping relief crews squelch the fires. The California Southern Baptist Convention disaster relief crews are also poised for relief work.
Media outlets are well aware that the death toll is expected to rise, especially with more than 100 people already missing. As of Monday night, several of the 17 fires had not been contained. Roaring winds were fanning the flames. Conditions were not looking good for those living in Northern California.
According to BP, local churches are providing housing and helping to feed the 20,000 people forced to evacuate their homes. Some 120,000 acres in California's wine country have been burned. Entire neighborhoods have been consumed by the fire. One subdivision that housed 7,000 people was leveled by roaring fire.
Bob Lawler, the mission catalyst for the Redwood Empire Baptist Association in Vacaville, California, remarked: "There's so much to be done. Our churches are just trying to figure out how to be as helpful as they can."
"It's great to see Christian brothers and sisters jumping into action," Lawler said.
One Baptist church — Petaluma Valley Baptist Church in Petaluma, California — coordinated with other churches in the area to determine its facility wasn't needed to shelter the more than 700 local evacuees. But Pastor Bob Merwin told BP that the congregation sent many members to other churches that are serving shelters to distribute food, translate for non-English speakers, and walk dogs, among other tasks. This is only one example of the charity demonstrated by churches in Northern California.
It is consistently the case that Christian communities respond with help and charity during times of natural disaster. Christians have also been at the forefront of recovery efforts in places destroyed by recent hurricanes.
After Hurricane Harvey, according to Christianity Today, several churches located on the higher ground actually served as temporary shelters, or meeting points, for evacuees.
"Nine churches in the Houston area served as temporary shelters for the city until survivors could be moved safely to other venues, such as the downtown convention center where officials are coordinating relief efforts," wrote CT. "One of them, Fallbrook Church in north Houston, has already transported all of its evacuees and closed."
CT reported that Christian communities are on the ground before FEMA since faith-based organizations were already located in the area.
In breaking news, President Trump just approved of a disaster declaration for California as the death count rises.