Government Officials: Faith Community Needs to 'Lead the Charge' to Help CA Fire Victims
- The wildfires burned roughlytwo-thirds of the churches
in Paradise, California, to the ground.
But even though churcheshave been hit hard,
members are pushing through tohelp their neighbors in need.
The East Avenue Churchin Chico now doubles
as an emergency shelter,
a haven for hundreds who've been displaced
by the Camp fire in northern California.
Blair Maness lived in his Paradise home
for nearly 22 years beforethe wildfire destroyed it.
He now calls the East Avenue Church home.
A lot of volunteers are on site
to support victims like Maness.
- The people have walked inhere and done an amazing job.
Not because I've doneany of the organizing,
but because we just gave them permission
to come in and do what they do best.
- [Mark] The church not only is providing
food and medical help, volunteers are also
trying to find those on the Missing list.
- We are cross-referencingevery person that we have
in our facility with people on that list.
And last night, our medicalteam was actually seeing people
one-by-one, and theyactually were successful
in identifying 12 people on the list.
- [Mark] CBN's OperationBlessing is also on the ground
in northern California,
meeting with churchleaders and giving grants
to churches that are helping victims.
Operation Blessing met the lead pastor
of Paradise AllianceChurch, Josh Gallagher.
He told the team how hisfamily barely escaped
the Camp fire, which leveled their home.
Gallagher sent hisfamily on to Sacramento,
but stayed behind to help other evacuees.
- Right now we don't even knowwhere our congregation is.
They are literally scatteredall over California,
surrounding states, and the nation.
But we don't even know right now,
and that is the heaviestthing that's on our heart.
Because we're supposed tobe caring for these people,
spiritually and physically,and we're not even sure
where they are at, at this point.
- [Mark] Gallagher believesthe church will be essential
to rebuilding the community,
and is hopeful that Paradise,California, can be reborn.
As church leaders join with city leaders,
and groups like OperationBlessing come alongside to help.
- As we were talking withsome government officials,
they let us know that if this community
is going to be rebuilt,
the faith community is goingto have to lead the charge.
Because it's within the faith community
that people find hope, theyfind belonging, they find worth.
- [Mark] Mark Martin, CBN News.