At the time this issue of GCI Weekly Update was published, huge wildfires continue burning in Southern California, where GCI has multiple congregations. Here are reports from two area pastors: Wayne Mitchell and Bermie Dizon. Your prayers are requested.
From Wayne Mitchell
We are thankful for the Lord’s presence with us and protection through the fires ravaging our area over the last week. All our members in the Ventura congregation were affected in some way by the Thomas Fire (by fire, smoke, air quality or inability to navigate roadways).
Bob and Joyce Muller’s home in Ojai was in the path of the fire on Tuesday and they were forced to evacuate. When they returned home Thursday, their neighbor’s home had burned to the ground, but theirs was spared. They are in their home now, keeping a watchful eye on the capricious path of the fire.
Julie Dexter, Bob’s sister who lives in Ojai and works in Ventura, watched as the fire burned across the street from the office where she works. She emailed the picture at right of the street she lives on. So far, her home is still standing.
About four church families had to evacuate from the Creek Fire that started around the Sylmar area. To my knowledge they have all returned home safely. The Rye Fire, in the Santa Clarita area, came within about six miles of a member’s home there, but no closer. From our apartment at the north edge of Simi Valley we can see smoke billowing above the hills to the west and northwest, as the Thomas fire continues to burn unabated, feuled by the Santa Ana winds. The relative humidity, as low as 6% in this area, is a threatening factor.
In the midst of the fires’ devastation, one of our members forwarded the passage of scripture below. What a beautiful reminder of the unfailing love of the Lord we serve.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91)
Please join with us in praying that the winds will die down and that we will finally get some cool moist air settling into our beautiful little corner of the world.
From Bermie Dizon
Though I have not heard of any members whose homes have burned down due to the ongoing fires, I did hear of the scary experiences many had driving with the fires so close to the freeway. Last Thursday, learning of the fire in the Sylmar area [northwest of Pasadena], I was concerned because Steven Brooks, associate pastor of our GCI Los Angeles congregation, lives in that area. I called Steve’s wife Gloria (Steve was out of town) and learned that because the fire was moving close to their home, the family had been ordered to evacuate. Gloria and her daughter left their home and stayed at her sister’s place in Granada Hills, 10 miles away. She wanted to return home to get some valuables, but the roads were blocked. Thankfully, the wind pushed the fire in the opposite direction and their house was spared. Gloria told us at church that she was comforted by several members who called her to ask what they could do to help.