Wildfires raging across California have brought death and destruction throughout the state. The Camp Fire in Northern California, covering 140 square miles, has destroyed nearly 7,000 structures and claimed 48 lives, with more than 100 people still missing. It consumed the city of Paradise within 24 hours. It is the largest and deadliest fire in the state’s history.
In Southern California, the Woolsey fire has burned over 96,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, destroyed hundreds of homes, and claimed at least two lives. The fire began just days after the tragic Borderline shooting in Ventura County’s Thousand Oaks community.
Somebody Cares has been connecting with ministry partners who are working with the victims of the wildfires to obtain needs and assessments. On November 19, Doug Stringer will be traveling to Thousand Oaks to meet with the Mayor-elect and other leaders who are dealing with fire relief as well as the aftermath of the shooting. The Mayor-elect is also pastor of a local church.
“We’ll be looking at how we can work with the local church community to bring long-term healing and hope to those who have suffered through both of these tragedies,” Doug said. “As always, it’s our desire to work with and support local leaders and churches.”
Somebody Cares is also partnering with Crisis Relief International, Foursquare Disaster Relief, and area churches in a variety of ways including sending N95 masks to distribute in the areas where air quality from the fires is poor as well as Somebody Cares bears for children impacted by the fires. Mercury One is partnering with SCA to help the family of the fallen officer who died in the tragic shooting, as well as many of the families impacted by the shooting and the fires.
The California meetings occur in the midst of continuing outreach and relief work in North Carolina for Hurricane Florence relief and in Panama City, Florida, for Hurricane Michael. In fact, Doug flies to North Carolina on Friday, November 16 to attend Thanksgiving meal outreaches in Lumberton and Elizabethtown; flies to California the evening of November 18 for meetings the next day; then takes the red-eye on November 19 to Panama City for the community Thanksgiving meal there on November 20.
Somebody Cares is also still involved in Hurricane Harvey efforts in Southeast Texas, as we begin the repairing or rebuilding of homes for up to 600 families still struggling to recover. Our chapter in Puerto Rico continues Maria relief efforts with the building a medical clinic and reaching out to local hospitals. SCA recently helped supply some equipment for one hospital, with the staff literally in tears when it arrived because they are so under equipped. And our Houston chapter is still reaching out to the community of Santa Fe that is still recovering from the trauma of the high school shooting earlier this year.
“Like so many other organizations, we are spread very thin right now,” Doug says.
In addition to crisis and relief efforts, Doug and the ministry are also involved in global fatherhood initiatives, leadership training, prayer ministries, and men’s ministry. Last month alone, Doug was part of a National Prayer Committee meeting in Washington, D.C.; a prayer leaders retreat in Baltimore; a series of ministry events with the Christian Men’s Network in Brazil; Together 2018 at the Texas Motor Speedway; and a National Day of Payer representatives gathering in Arkansas.
A NATIONAL CRISIS
Nationwide, Doug says, we are “having the wind knocked out,” adding: “We’re experiencing PTSD across the nation.”
“With the number of disasters we’ve experienced in recent years across the country, there is a new dynamic of long-term despair.” The affects include increases in depression, suicide, marriage and family issues, and a new kind of homelessness that affects the hundreds and hundreds of families that have been displaced without adequate means to restore what they’ve lost.
During these times, the Church needs to shine the most, Doug says. “We can’t let these unexpected detours cause us to lose focus on the Lord,” he explains. “They can become distractions of disappointment unless we stay focused on the destination and remember that God has not forgotten us.”
In the midst of it all, there are always those who rise above and continue in whole-hearted service. One pastor in Paradise is dealing with the loss of his church, his home, and several of his members’ homes. Relief partner Christ in Action has been working tirelessly in Florence relief in South Carolina and is now transferring their efforts to Panama City. The founder’s own daughter was displaced from her home in one of the storms and had to relocate.
Somebody Cares is so thankful for all those who offer support through the donation of finances, time, prayer, and in-kind goods. With your support, we’ve been able to send thousands of dollars in gift cards, grants, Somebody Cares bears, and supplies to hurricane impacted areas. Yet as the crises continue, so do the needs.
We specifically need finances now for supplies and gift cards that will empower local churches to reach out to their hurting communities.
“As always,” Doug says, “we sow seed into our partner ministries and the local church, trusting God to multiply the fishes and the loaves, so that hope can be restored and families healed.”
Please consider a generous gift today so we can continue being a tangible expression of God’s love to the hurting.