Acknowledging members who have lost everything to a wildfire surrounding Redding, California, pastor Bill Johnson told his Bethel congregation Sunday morning that the church is going to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.
The Carr Fire has already burned 89,194 acres, destroyed 536 buildings, damaged 117 others and is threatening nearly 5,000 more. It remained only 5 percent contained as some 3,388 firefighters battled the blaze, Cal Fire officials said. The death toll stands at six, and is expected to grow.
Some people in Redding and from Bethel are mourning the total devastation of their homes and possessions, while others are rejoicing that their homes and lives were spared.
"Today is a very strange day," Johnson said. "We didn't throw a party of fire for you," he said before Bethel's worship team opened with song lyrics "through the storm, He is Lord of all" at the church's single service Sunday morning.
"Outside is what's from the devourer; not from the one who gives life," Johnson said.
In England when he heard of the Carr wildfire at home in Redding, Johnson took a flight back to California, arriving at 2 a.m. Saturday, so he could be with the Bethel family for the church's service at 10:30 a.m. (PST).
"Crises times are healing and breakthrough times," Johnson said. "I don't feel like I need to offer an answer or explanation because it's His peace that passes understanding (that we need)."
Like others evacuated from their homes, Johnson said he returned briefly to his home Saturday.
He said dear friends had lost everything, and that months of attention will be focused on the crises before things are fully restored.
"Some of you are at a place where you've lost everything, and it's hard for you to believe for a better tomorrow.
"We're going to believe the Lord for His full-on demonstration of love," Johnson said before Bethel's worship team opened with a song by Hillsong, "Cornerstone."
Following worship, prayer and intercession directed at containing the fire provided hope amidst the ashes for some.
If you want to help those affected by the fires, you can give through Charisma's non-profit partner Christian Life Missions. One hundred percent of your donation will go to those affected. We have already sent $5000 to Bill Johnson and Bethel Church since they know where the needs are. Send a check to Fire Disaster Fund, Christian Life Missions, 600 Rinehart Rd. Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Or give through PayPal at christianlifemissions.org. or call 407-333-0600 during business hours to give by phone.
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