Those of you reading from outside the immediate area have probably heard the news about the devastating wildfires that occurred in Santa Rosa and much of Sonoma County where our membership lives. While the images on television were horrifying, it is impossible to understand how deeply we are impacted unless you see it firsthand and speak with those who experienced it. Officials say that we have lost more than 5% of our housing in Santa Rosa alone. This severely exacerbates a problem we already have. There is a shortage of rental units and houses for purchase without the massive increase in demand from this tragedy. We are deeply concerned about displaced families.
Our church is small compared to such a massive problem. However, the good people of our church have pledged to do what we can to help our community. We have offered to house some transitional families until they can make suitable arrangements. We are also linked to efforts by the Santa Rosa Bible Church and their Christian school ministry to aid displaced church and school families. Offers of help have poured in from across the country. The short-term need is for cash donations for unexpected expenses. Though some of the most expensive neighborhoods in our area were burned and those families may have other resources, there are thousands more that are just like you. They struggle to meet family budgets and have no resources for sudden calamity. Each day is a struggle for survival. If you can help, we urge you to click the links on our homepage to give.
One more note. As Christians, we are not in despair. We see the good in God’s sovereign plan. Disasters are inherent in a world charged with sin. It is part of the curse of the fall. While we do not claim to know how everything works in God’s purposes, we know they are always good for His people. In this tragedy, we see opportunities for the gospel. We see the grace of God reflected in His people who have an opportunity to obey the second table of the law—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
We also see a clear warning for repentance and a call to faith in Christ. God is gracious to send another visible sign that salvation is only in Jesus Christ. He gives time to repent and we must heed the warning. The good news is that all can escape the judgment of sin and may inherit a new home that can never be touched by a fire or disaster of any kind. This home is for those who give up self, change their minds about their goodness, and cling to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He provides this righteousness for imperfect, sinful people by His perfect life and sacrificial death.
For anyone who reads this, especially those in our area affected by the fires, if you want to know more about faith in Christ and peace in your troubled life, please let us know. The results of the fire cannot be taken away, but the anxieties of what you will do next can be by trusting in the sovereign God.
Pastor V. Mark Smith