Camp Fire Update

From Pastor Jordan Wong

Dear Church,

As you know, the fires in Butte County have been destructive and devastating.  We are praying for all of those who have lost so much.  Below is an email from Ray Van Gilst, the District Superintendent of the Christian & Missionary Alliance (the denomination to which we belong).  He reports on Chico Neighborhood Church which is currently housing about 400 evacuees.  On Sunday, they held a joint worship service with Paradise Alliance Church who have all had to evacuate and the majority of whom have lost their homes.

As a church, we are praying and will also partner in trying to provide in practical ways.  Pastor Jared will be leading a “mini-mission trip” to Chico on December 1 with High School students to go up for the day, bring supplies and volunteer.  From now until then, we will be collecting the following supplies (new or slightly used): clothes/coats, blankets/sleeping bags, and toiletries.  You can bring donations to the church on any Sunday or any weekday between 9am-12pm.  If you have any other questions or want to make contributions at different times, contact Pastor Jared at (408) 476-1624.

If you feel God leading you to help in a more immediate manner, you are welcome to go up to Chico Neighborhood Church to volunteer or give financially to the relief work.  Read the email below, and it will provide you with instructions of how you can sign up to help and how to give directly to the efforts.  You can also join us tomorrow night (Wednesday night) for prayer meeting at our church as we will be specifically praying for those affected by the fires.

In Christ,

Pastor Jordan

Almaden Neighborhood Church

Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples.

www.almadenchurch.org

Camp Fire Update

From Ray Van Gilst District Superintendent, Central Pacific District, CMA

November 19, 2018

Update Link: It’s Okay To Be In A Season Of Grief

Click on the link above!

November 16, 2018

Update Link: How Our Churches Are Being Impacted by the Camp Fire

Click on the link above!

Received info: Thursday, Nov 15, 9:12 AM

Dear Susan,

The Chico area pastors met Wednesday to begin to strategize for the long haul in caring for their sister community of Paradise.  Everyone involved in this crisis is realizing more and more that this will be a marathon of epic proportions.  But while there are no quick answers or fixes here, we are thankful that God promises wisdom, strength, and empowerment as we ask.  And we are going to need a lot of it for this marathon!

Andrew and Chico Pastors-386075-edited
As we mentioned before, Bayside Church of Granite Bay (Sacramento) is partnering with Paradise Alliance Church and the CPD in meeting needs especially for the PAC staff.  Wednesday morning the entire staff was invited to join Bayside for their staff meeting in which the PAC staff was brought up front and prayed for, and given gift cards.  The Bayside family of churches took up a special offering on Sunday for Paradise and raised $112,000 that day with more coming in.  A big THANK YOU to Bayside for their Kingdom mindedness in serving the Body of Christ!

Quite frankly we are still figuring things out at this point, but the constant is always the same.  Our friends in Paradise and Chico need your prayers!  And God is in control!

Throughout the week, there have been so many amazing volunteers coming to the NC Chico evacuation center.  They do need help, so if you want to come and volunteer, please sign up on this Google Doc. You can click here to view the volunteer schedule and add your name. The Google Doc is also posted on the Neighborhood Church of Chico Facebook Page .  Go to the “Posts” tab to the left, and you can open the Google Doc to see when help is needed most.  You can also get to it from their website, www.ncchico.org, as the home screen scrolls, you will see a button “Evacuation Center Volunteer Signup Click Here.”  Since there is essentially no town to go back to, we really have no idea how long this will go on.

As we have shared, of course they need your financial help.  You can give directly to either church, sending it straight to Neighborhood Church of Chico at 2801 Notre Dame Blvd Chico, CA 95928, or to the Central Pacific District office, 715 Lincoln Ave, Woodland, CA  95695, as we will be collecting funds for them. You can also give online through Push Pay for NC Chico Or Push Pay for PAC.

In his love and service,

Ray

Received info: Monday, Nov 12, 10:32 AM 

Dear Susan,

Yesterday was a Sunday filled with raw emotion as nearly 2000 people gathered at Neighborhood Church of Chico (NC Chico) for combined services with Paradise Alliance Church (PAC).  PAC pastor Josh Gallagher, who has only been there three months and also lost his home, brought the message and encouraged his people to grieve and to grieve well. As Donice and I walked through the main NC Chico sanctuary, the ‘Dome,’ seeing people sitting in their seats weeping told me this was exactly what was needed.  We are all so grateful to NC Chico for taking in this sister church and providing a home for this season.

Josh stated, “We will be back up on the hill, but for now we are here.”  He shared of wrestling with his own reactions to God in the service.  As the worship team sang “You Are Good,” Josh spoke of knowing with his head “Yes, God is good, but, I sure don’t feel like it right now,” and of it taking several times singing through the song to finally gain the peace of God in this dark time. He spoke of the importance to remember that God is the God of AND– we can be Sad and Happy, be Angry and Love, have Questions and Faith, Fear and Trust, Cry and Smile. This is exactly where so many of these precious people are at right now and it is okay to have both at this time.

Josh at Chico_opt

Along with the tears and sorrow, there was a relief as friends came together for the first time since the fire.  And laughter as someone blurted out, “Maybe now we will finally get a sewer system in Paradise!”  Out of 21 staff members, we have confirmed 16 lost their homes.  A couple have confirmed that their homes are safe, and others just don’t know yet.  We don’t yet have the number of families in the church who have lost homes, but it is scores – we can estimate it will be 90% of the church body.

As I met with the PAC board after the service, it was amazing – and humbling – to sit around the table with these men and women, most of who had lost everything, and hear them talk about leading the way to rebuild their city.  To hear them talk about a new beginning for Paradise.  One of the board members also serves on the city council, and they have already been meeting with FEMA.  While FEMA is promising support and helping to figure out how to move on, they are also saying, “This is the worst we have ever seen.  This is new territory for us.”  To hear FEMA saying this is sobering to say the least.  PAC has a huge challenge ahead, but they feel called to their city, and the long term opportunity for the gospel is amazing!

The PAC board meeting was followed by a meeting with representatives from Bayside in Granite Bay (Sacramento) who are pledging their help as well, and figuring out what a game plan looks like to help us in Paradise.  God is moving His people all over the place to lean into this desperate situation.  Thank you for all your prayers as well.  We know from many of you that you are taking offerings and mobilizing financial, as well as physical, help.  This is all appreciated more than you know.  The needs are far beyond anything I have ever seen.

There are a lot of volunteers coming to the NC Chico evacuation center right now.  While they do need help, if you want to come and volunteer, please sign up on this Google Doc. You can click here to view the volunteer scheduleand add your name. The Google Doc is also posted on the Neighborhood Church of Chico Facebook Page .  Go to the “Posts” tab to the left, and you can open the Google Doc to see when help is needed most.  You can also get to it from their website, www.ncchico.org, as the home screen scrolls, you will see a button “Evacuation Center Volunteer Signup Click Here.”  Since there is essentially no town to go back to, we really have no idea how long this will go on.  Since Donice and I will be back up there this week, we may just see you there.

Many of you have offered places to stay for those who have been displaced or have offered your churches as evacuation centers.  At this point, there is not a need, as those who need a place are being taken care of by friends and family, or even the insurance companies in hotels.  But as you can imagine, this is a very fluid situation that can change quickly, so we will keep your information and let you know as things progress.

As we have shared, of course, they need your financial help.  You can give directly to either church, sending it straight to Neighborhood Church of Chico at 2801 Notre Dame Blvd Chico, CA 95928, or to the Central Pacific District office, 715 Lincoln Ave, Woodland, CA  95695, as we will be collecting funds for them. You can also give online through Push Pay. After you login, just search for Neighborhood Church of Chico and there will be a category for Benevolence or Camp Fire- both categories will be used for families of PAC and NCChico who have lost their homes.

In his love and service,

Ray

Received info: Saturday, Nov 10, 9:20 AM

Dear Susan,

Having spent much of the day in Chico yesterday, we are a little overwhelmed – we have never seen the level of heartache and hopelessness we saw today.  People wandering aimlessly, trying desperately to find out any news about homes and loved ones. Pastor Andrew Burchett said that he has never dealt with the level of grief in people that he has over the past couple days.

The Paradise Alliance Church campus has survived!  But almost no one in the church has a home or job to go back to. At least 8 families from Neighborhood Church of Chico have lost their homes as well, and part of the city had to evacuate, including pastor Andrew Burchett and his family.  There was even the possibility everyone would have to evacuate from the church which is currently housing nearly 400 evacuees.  Thankfully, for the moment, things have calmed down on the fire front facing the city of Chico.

We will be in Chico again on Sunday for combined services with NC Chico and Paradise Alliance congregations at 9:00am and 11:00am.  Please pray God pours out His Holy Spirit like nothing we have ever seen.  We know how God uses events for His glory and His purposes, and where there is great loss and suffering, there is also much room for Him to work.

Many of you have been asking how you can help…

As far as Paradise Alliance goes, we just don’t know yet, and we probably won’t know for a few days.  There are multiple offers of places for people to stay – thank you!  We hope to get a better idea of what the needs are after Sunday.

Neighborhood Church of Chico is serving with excellence and has become the focal point of the community. Every time I see the news, they are broadcasting from our campus there.  Hundreds of people are staying there, being fed there, and receiving medical care.  They are pretty much maxed out with facilities and people. The pictures are of the outside and inside of the NC Chico campus.

NC Chico outside
NC Chico inside
Many of you have asked how you can help there as well.  I asked Andrew and he said we can always use more volunteers on location.  The constant cleanup alone is exhausting, and we can use as many of you who want to be a part of the support here at the NC Chico campus.  We also need volunteers who can come and sit with people to listen to and pray with them.  We cannot overestimate the value of presence – being Jesus to these hurting people.  I will be back in Chico doing whatever else is needed in the next few days.

The financial needs of both Paradise Alliance and NC Chico are going to be staggering.  Please give as you feel led.  You can either send it straight to Neighborhood Church of Chico at 2801 Notre Dame Blvd Chico, CA 95928, or to the Central Pacific District office, 715 Lincoln Ave, Woodland, CA  95695, as we will be collecting funds for them.

In His love and service,

Ray

Received info: Friday, Nov 9, 2018, 11:19 AM

Dear Susan,

I’ve been staring at my computer for several minutes trying to process all that is happening and figuring out what to write.  I have never been more proud of our CPD family as I am right now.  And I have never been gladder to be part of a family like this at this moment.  You are stepping up all over the place, and I know you are praying like crazy.  As I talked with Billy Andre of Santa Rosa this morning asking for his help in being present for our pastors who have lost homes, we wept together over the phone for those who have lost so much.

I have also been in contact with Josh Gallagher, the new pastor at Paradise.  He has extended family in Sacramento where they will be till they can figure out some things.  Like nearly all of their people, they also lost their home.  I’ve included their church’s Facebook link where Josh has posted a video to their church family.

https://www.facebook.com/ParadiseAllianceChurchCMA/

Please continue to pray.  We don’t yet know the full extent of all that has happened.  We have to believe that Romans 8:28 is true even in situations like this, and we look for God to be glorified through it all.

In His love and service,

Ray

Received info: Friday, Nov 9, 8:49 AM

Dear Susan,

We are waking up this morning to the realization that almost the entire town of Paradise has burned.

We got online yesterday morning to check in for our flights to Colorado for DS and Wives Conference about the same time we were getting word about the Camp Fire.  As news continued to trickle in throughout the day, it got worse every time we heard something.

I have been on the phone with many leaders and staff from our Paradise Alliance Church, and nearly every person I talk to says the same thing, “We lost our home, and we lost our church.”  There are now reports that the church campus survived – if that is true, it is one of the few remaining buildings in the entire city.  We are especially thankful that all our staff at Paradise Alliance Church made it out safely, but it took many of them several hours to make the 15-minute drive.

We are working with our Sacramento and Redding area churches to coordinate housing needs for those having to flee.  By all accounts so far, what you see on the news is not an exaggeration.  If anything, it does not adequately describe the disaster that has taken place.

Needless to say, we canceled our trip to Colorado to stay with our church family here and will be spending time in Chico with them.  Our Neighborhood Church of Chico has been a huge blessing to the community as a Red Cross evacuation center (they filled up almost immediately).  They are looking at doing a joint service with the Paradise Church family on Sunday.  Todd Skinner of Neighborhood Church of Redding connected me with Bayside Church of Granite Bay (Sacramento), and they are also offering help as needed.

We will be back and forth to Chico to be present with our families there throughout the next few days.

Like our other fires over the last year, we really don’t even know yet what the needs are, but we will do our best to keep you up to date.  Of course there will be financial needs, and as before, you can send financial help to: The Central Pacific District, 715 Lincoln Ave, Woodland, CA  95695.

We will give 100% of it to the Paradise Alliance Church and Neighborhood Church of Chico as needed.

Thank you for your prayers for our churches and communities.  We will update you as we get news.

In His love and service,

Ray