Finding Refuge as the Carr Fire Continues

By   •   August 30, 2018

A firefighter battles the Carr Fire in Redding, California. Billy Graham chaplains are offering emotional and spiritual care to those affected by the blaze.

Update: The Carr Fire has burned more than 214,000 acres and is nearly 100 percent contained. News reports say the blaze is responsible for eight deaths and has destroyed over 1,000 homes.

Hazy skies are a mere hint of the ongoing devastation occurring along northern California’s landscape.

Over the past month, thousands of fire personnel have worked on extinguishing the Carr Fire, which has killed eight people, according to news reports, including three firefighters.

The fire, which is nearly 100 percent contained, was reportedly sparked by a vehicle’s flat tire, causing its rim to scrape the asphalt and sending sparks flying to nearby brush. More than 200,000 acres and over 1,000 homes have been destroyed.

The blaze spurred a rare ‘fire tornado,’ and according to news reports, winds within the fire whirl reached up to 165 miles per hour, even ripping off roofs and uprooting trees.

“Everyone you speak with has a fire story,” said chaplain coordinator Sharon Folsom, who noticed the debris- and ash-filled air after arriving in Redding.

Folsom and 16 other Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains are ministering alongside Samaritan’s Purse to offer emotional and spiritual care to those facing hardship due to the inferno.

“Our teams are offering the hope and comfort of Jesus as people begin to search for answers and a ‘new normal’ in their lives,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.

Spending most of their time at shelters, chaplains have had the opportunity to encourage, listen and pray with many who’ve been affected by the fire.

Despite displacement and facing the unknown, the community seems to be doing “very well for what has happened,” Folsom said. “We’ve seen tears—that’s normal—but not despondency or discouragement.”

In the meantime, crisis-trained chaplains are at the shelters sharing a different kind of refuge—one that can only be found in the Lord.

While speaking with three Christians who lost their home in the fire, chaplains showed them Steps to Peace with God, a booklet about having peace with God.

Another young lady overheard their conversation and said, “I want you to share that little pamphlet with me.” She listened as the chaplains explained about a relationship with Christ and then prayed to receive Him.

Surprisingly, the woman wasn’t an evacuee but there to visit someone else in the building.

Folsom described the moment as “a divine appointment that our chaplains were where she was.”

Chaplains are continuing to share the Good News and support the Shasta County community through the RRT’s Mobile Ministry Center (MMC), a vehicle that serves as a safe haven for those in need of encouragement or prayer.

“Every time we witness a wildfire, we are amazed and grieved by the power of the blaze and the devastating impact that it has on those caught in its path,” Munday said.

The chaplains aim to offer comfort to those enduring devastation from wildfires, among other natural disasters. The RRT deployed to Seneca County, New York, and Hidalgo County, Texas, following flooding.

Please pray for those impacted by these natural disasters and that they will find refuge in Christ alone.

Do you have peace with God? Know Him today.