'Opportunity to Be Hands and Feet of Jesus:' Bethel Offering Hope to Victims of California's Dixie Fire
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California's explosive Dixie fire, named for the road where it ignited, has blazed a path of destruction with close to 500,000 acres burned so far. The flames, which are just 25 percent contained, are being fueled by bone dry conditions and strong winds. Authorities say that could make the fire even more combustible.
Homes and other buildings have been destroyed and the fire has gutted the small town of Greenville.
Many residents have been forced to leave everything behind as they've fled their homes.
"We left behind a lot of stuff," said Jason Gray-Powers. "The fire's ravaged through everything."
Evacuated resident Ann O'Mally said, "It's scary when you sit there and see all of the smoke coming over the mountain and wonder where's it at because you can't see it."
CBN's Operation Blessing is helping several families that have lost homes with a potential grant and is working closely with relief partners in and around areas burned by the flames.
One of those is Bethel Global Response, a disaster response ministry out of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. It exists to respond, revive, and restore communities that have been devastated by disaster.
The ministry recently visited a center that hosts fire survivors in Quincy, many of whom had lost everything they owned.
"We sat down with over a hundred families over the course of those three days and what we saw there was devastating," Heather Quinones, deputy director of Bethel Global Response told CBN News. "The families have often lived there for multi-generations and the families' homes are often owned outright and they've been there since they were born."
Bethel Global Response is working to support families both physically and spiritually by making compassion look practical.
"Often in the face of disaster there is a great window of opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to express that love," says Quinones.
"We're offering something called ash-outs which is sifting through the ashes of the home that was lost in order to find valuables that are still intact within the footprint of the home that can be given back to the survivors," explained Quinones.
Bethel Global Response is currently offering Ash Out assistance for the survivors of the Dixie Fire.
(Note: Some of the footage in this report is from previous disaster responses, including the 2018 Carr Fire in Redding, CA)
With so many fires burning across the state in recent years, Bethel says it has grown accustomed to the much-needed ministry.
"We get prepared for this all year long," she said. "It has been happening pretty consistently recently. We are geared up for this. We have responded to the Salt Fire recently just north of Redding here in town."
In the past, Bethel Global Response has also deployed teams to over 25 disasters including Hurricane Harvey, Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and the Carr, Camp and Kincade Fires in California.
Quinones added that they would not be able to do the work without the help and support of dedicated volunteers.
"People who are servant-hearted like Jesus are those who give their time and their energy and their resources to relieve the suffering of others," she said. "They are motivated by the compassion of Jesus, by the kindness they've felt from Him and the desire to give that away."
Quinones says after years of working in disaster ministry, she has seen signs of God's love and faithfulness all around.
"It is so good to see the faithfulness of the Lord from the front seat in a disaster situation," said Quinones. "Continually you see His provision, His abundance, His specificity in loving people well and the overarching compassion of humans loving one another in His name, and you don't find a place where He isn't in the midst of disaster."
"He is the one loving survivors. He is the one comforting them. He is the one counseling them," she said.
If you'd like to volunteer with Bethel Global Response or assist families affected by wildfires in California, go to bethelglobalresponse.com.
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