As we continue to keep Chad and Luke in our prayers amongst their fire relief efforts, we love to hear what God is doing in the midst of their ministry and efforts to help those devastated by the Camp Fire. Here is a recent update from both Luke and Chad about their efforts and what they need moving forward!
A lot has happened since our last update. We spent Christmas Eve services celebrating the birth of our Savior in Paradise at the Alliance Church with many churches from "The Ridge" including a cameo from Franklin Graham himself. We have reached out to many churches who have either lost their buildings or their congregations and tried to minister to them as they try to figure out their lives in the midst of serving their people. We continue to work with the Long Term Recovery Group. Luke is on the executive committee and is serving on the donations committee and spiritual care and wellness committee. I am serving on the Case Management committee and have been trained to provide case management for those hit by the Camp Fire.
RIPPLE EFFECTS. The community is reeling with the influx of too many people and no options for housing. We continue to pray for housing for our youth pastor and husband and children as she is currently living in a house where someone moved out so they could live and they could keep their current foster daughter. This is a great blessing but not a long term solution. Also, other people in our church and community are getting forced to leave their rental housing because the landlords can get better rent from other people desperate for housing. People are still living in other peoples houses or sharing small spaces with lots of people. We are moving into a new phase passed the initial relief efforts and now trying to figure out who is working to solve future problems. The FEMA representative that we meet with has said that he has never seen a disaster like this in that the people who have been hit qualify for so much assistance....its not even close.
People keep providing gift cards and so I am able to hand them off when people are in need. There is no one place that I don't go that I don't run into someone with great needs (including our offices are sharing a wall where people are living temporarily in trailers and using the office space to stay during the day and where their kid can nap.) I just ran into people yesterday looking for help with dog food and was able to give them gift cards.
Where we need prayer…the Red Cross has been sheltering the remaining 187 people who haven't found any solutions for housing. This is ending on January 31. These people are the most vulnerable and need a miracle. Our community is working on solutions but the Red Cross is taking the blame for this....and they are helping the most. Pray for the church to shine as we love like Jesus loves us.
Luke and I continue to take steps to distribute money to those who need the help that fall into the gray areas of assistance. Many are underinsured....or not at all...and therefore many will get FEMA assistance but that won't be enough to cover their needs to get back to the state that they were in before November 8th.
We are also trying to transition our re-entry center into a place that can match the changing needs of the community. Many who experience the flames and trauma that day have been forced to make many difficult decisions and haven't taken care of the trauma that they live with constantly which impacts decision making and healthily dealing with this new normal.
I am very aware of the increase in destructive behavior and want to take steps to help people which could ultimate save lives.
The big change I have seen since Christmas has been a shift in a lot of people from trying to stay positive for Christmas to heading towards negativity and depression after. It is an area of major concern and much prayer needed. We are trying to identify ways for people to process that grief and loss.
One story that has been encouraging within the Nextgen family has been how we have partnered with lakeside church to adopt one family. Our church, Lifespring Church, has been helping families with small grants of up to $500 since 2 weeks after the fire. We have helped 38 families so far. But through that activity, we have been able to identify a few families with larger needs. One of those is Devin and Maddie Fosdick, and their 5 month old baby Esme. They are 21 years old and engaged to be married. Devin worked at an RV dealer in paradise, but lost that job as well as everything in their apartment and their engagement rings in the fire. He got a job at the VW dealer in Chico soon after the fire and they have been working hard to stay afloat. They were not in a church family prior to the fire. Brad Franklin from lakeside reached out to us around thanksgiving and asked if we could identify a family who had been affected by the fire and was not from a churches background that they could adopt for Christmas. I had been working with Devin and God put it on my heart immediately that they were the ones. I got his permission and a photo of their family to share with Lakeside. Brad told me that the previous year, Lakeside had done something similar and had raised $5000 to give at Christmas. When their church family heard the story, they were moved with compassion and gave $50,000. On Jan 6, John Voelz from lakeside drove up to Chico to present Devin and Maddie with the news. During our worship service, in their first time ever coming to a church service, we were able to present their family with $50,000. They were blown away and moved deeply. But beyond that, they are seeking spiritually. Devin normally works Sundays and has requested they change his shift so that their family can be involved in our church family. God is clearly at work and we are excited to see how this story plays out. He recently shared with me that up until Jan 6, he was not sleeping well, always worries about the financial challenges. Since that day, he has been resting much better. Our continued prayer is that they find not only financial peace but more importantly eternal peace in a real relationship with Jesus.
Thank you for the support and encouragement!
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