WEAVERVILLE, Calif.—The beginning of a new year presents new opportunities to reach out to those in need with the love of Christ. The year 2017 was difficult for some GARBC churches and families, who experienced catastrophic loss through natural disasters. But some of them also experienced the benefits of membership in a network of churches that gave to help meet those needs.

An ongoing financial need exists in Northern California, where two GARBC churches are trying to help at least 11 families who lost homes in recent wildfires. First Baptist Church of Weaverville opened its doors to the community by serving as a Red Cross evacuation center for families displaced by the fires. The church gymnasium was converted into a shelter, where people could sleep and receive food and other assistance.

Two families who attend the church lost their homes in the fires. Pastor Jay Underwood says the majority of any assistance the church received would probably go to Bill Eddy, an uninsured logger and heavy machinery operator in his 60s who came out of retirement because of the high cost of rebuilding. Underwood says, “Bill is a guy who loves the Lord and is a part-time caregiver for one of his two elementary age grandchildren.” So far the church has given $5,000 to help Bill. Second, the church would use any additional assistance to help a family on a low fixed income. The family was living in another property at the time of the fires and is insured but has not received any insurance settlement. Underwood says the state is still doing soil testing on the family’s property and nothing can move forward until that has been completed.

Last, the church would like to help members of its community who lost properties in the fires. The Human Response Network has been providing transitional housing while homes are being rebuilt or claims are being considered. “We at First Baptist have been making a more concerted effort over the last few years to reach out to our community of 4,000 by showing the love of Christ in different ways for the sake of building relationships that might open doors for the gospel,” Underwood says. “We’ve done everything from allowing the use of our Family Life Center as the Red Cross evacuation site to the lumber mill next door for meat giveaways and a Christmas dinner they have for their employees.”

The church has also served regularly at a local soup kitchen and adopted a needy family this Christmas through the Human Response Network. “It would be great to be able to offer something by the way of finances to fire victims in the community, and let them see the love of Christ through First Baptist,” Underwood says.

Pastor Jeff Marshall of First Baptist in Windsor, California, which had nine families affected by the fires, says uncertainties still exist related to insurance settlements. Some families are still deciding whether or not to rebuild. The church would use any assistance to help cover the gap between insurance coverage and rebuilding costs. Or the church might help cover some costs of relocating families who decide not to rebuild.

Clare Jewell, director of Regular Baptist Builders Club, says the ministry exhausted all of its Disaster Relief funds that were donated last fall for relief efforts after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the ministry would like to do more to help these California churches. Would you please consider giving a gift to help these churches minister to their members and reach out with God’s love to their communities? Donate now to assist brothers and sisters in Christ. Donate online by selecting “Disaster Relief—CA Fires” in the drop-down menu, or send a check to 3715 North Ventura Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60004.