I am at a total loss for words to describe the California catastrophe. I was to preach Sunday in Marysville CA at the Bridge with our dear friends Jim and Kristine Carpenter. Marysville is 48 miles south of Paradise CA where the Camp Fire, as it is now called, began.
By the time we reached Roseville it was clear there would be no meeting. An air quality condition purple means you can’t be outside. For the few minutes we were outside, it became frightening.
The New York Times 3,000 miles away said this: PARADISE, Calif. — The inferno that ravaged the wooded town of Paradise in northern California became the deadliest wildfire in the state’s modern history on Monday when officials said they had discovered the remains of 13 more people, bringing the death toll to 42.
The Butte County sheriff, Kory L. Honea, has said more than 200 people remain missing in and around the town, which sits in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and was popular with retirees.
“My sincere hope is that I don’t have to come here each night and report a higher and higher number,” Sheriff Honea said at a news conference Monday night.
The fire, which continues to rage in the hills and ravines east of the city of Chico, is also the most destructive fire in California history, with more than 7,100 structures destroyed, most of them homes.”
My wife and I know Paradise CA. I have preached there. It is gone. Totally destroyed.
Then there’s the Woolsey fire burning in Los Angeles.170,000 people have evacuated.
There’s this chilling shot from space that shows the smoke from LA is about to meet the smoke from Northern California out at sea.
Many in this state are losing hope. They have lost houses they worked for all their lives, they have lost beloved pets, and they have lost loved ones—a loss that never goes away.
Everywhere you look there is a dazed stare. People wondering after drought and massive floods, and now apocalyptic fires, each one bigger and deadlier than the last. When Santa Rosa burned, when the Lake fire came, then Redding, then Santa Barbara, then Paradise, then Los Angeles. What on earth is going on? What can this all mean?
One thing it does not mean is politics. Please don’t talk about environmentalists or global warming. If you do it simply means there is nothing that can take your mind off of politics—I mean if this can’t, nothing can.
The body of Christ stands at a door of opportunity. I am reminded of another time in California history.
It’s 1906 in Los Angeles. William Seymore agrees to rent a dingy horse stable at 312 Azusa Street for $7 a month and begins revival meetings. A movement springs out those meetings. Today, it claims 650 million followers.
Wikipedia says “It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906 and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by spiritual experiences accompanied with testimonies of physical healing miracles, worship services and speaking in tongues. The participants were criticized by some secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.”
9 days after the Azusa Street revival began, an earthquake destroys San Francisco. It topples 24,000 buildings. 200,000 residents are instantly homeless. More than 3,000 people are killed.
People believe it’s the end of the world. 400 miles to the south in the Azusa Street mission people believe Jesus is about to return. It gripped them with soul-winning fervor. They papered Los Angeles with pamphlets because the whole city felt conviction. They took trains to San Francisco to minister to the victims of the quake.
That is exactly what we are seeing come out of Bethel Church in Redding. Their Global response team has raced into action. Many other ministries are also focused on expressing healing at this time.
They have it right. An awesome opportunity to express Christ has come! Let’s do it my fellow West Coast believers!
Mechelle and I are grieving for everyone who has been devastated by these fires. We are also praying that minds will turn toward the eternal. God please bless and comfort California today.