REDDING, Calif.—Grace Baptist Church is ministering to people in its church and community who have lost homes in the Carr Fire.

The wildfire has burned 100,000 acres and forced the evacuation of half the church family. Jon Cook, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, reports that the fire has moved away from the city, but it destroyed 1,000 homes—four of which belonged to families connected to the church. “We have been in contact constantly with those families. They are safe, and they are with family or with friends from the church.”

The mandatory evacuation has been lifted, allowing some people back into their neighborhoods. “One couple from our church was allowed to go back to their home for the first time just recently,” Cook says. Church members affected by the wildfire “are salvaging whatever they can find. Some in our church family went with them to help load things from their houses. The families are working with their insurance companies to determine what costs will be covered and if they can rebuild.”

Meanwhile, the church is helping those who don’t have relatives nearby. “We are trying to find housing for them, meet their immediate needs, and provide funds,” Cook says. “We are waiting to see what their needs are as far as housing. There are still a lot of unknowns.” One family’s insurance company is offering compensation that won’t even pay for a one-bedroom apartment.

When the fire started, the church opened its doors and posted on social media that it was available to shelter evacuees. People came and the Red Cross brought cots and food. The church assisted by providing beds, water, showers, and meals for 80–100 people for a week. Pastor Cook says he was thankful that the church was able to provide resources for the evacuees even when they left the property. “We were able to give them funds to buy food. We were even able to send them with groceries and gift cards.”

The whole experience was a blessing on many levels for the Grace Baptist family. One of those blessings was to see some evacuees return for church services. “Four families came back to our church on Sunday and we were able to help them with more food and more conversations,” Cook says. Another blessing was to see the church family come together in ministering to the Redding community and to have opportunities to share the gospel. “The opportunity to see the love of Christ and to see the joy of our church coming together in a crisis like this has been incredible,” he says. “There was more done for the unity of the church in the last 10 days than you could have done in 20 years normally. This crisis brought everybody together!”

The church spent last weekend and Monday cleaning the facility and putting things away. “Now we are looking at the long-term needs and how we meet those needs,” Cook says. He says he appreciates the concern and prayers for his church moving forward, as the Carr Fire, which is still threatening other communities in the Redding area, is only 50 percent contained.

Please show your love and concern for Grace Baptist Church as it ministers to its members and the Redding community by giving a gift to Regular Baptist Builders Club Disaster Relief.