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Government Officials: Faith Community Needs to 'Lead the Charge' to Help CA Fire Victims


In California, victims of the disastrous wildfires are just trying to survive day to day. Even though many churches were lost in the fires, some are still stepping up to help those in need.

The wildfires burned roughly two-thirds of the churches in Paradise, California, to the ground. But even though churches have been hit hard, members are pushing through to help their neighbors in need.  

The East Ave Church in Chico now doubles as an emergency shelter, a haven for hundreds who've been displaced by the "Camp Fire" in Northern California.

Blair Maness lived in his Paradise home for nearly 22 years before the wildfire destroyed it. He now calls the East Ave Church home. A lot of volunteers are on site to support victims like Maness.

"People have walked in here and done an amazing job, not because I've done any of the organizing, but because we just gave them permission to come in and do what they do best," said Ron Zimmer, the pastor of East Ave Church.

The church not only is providing food and medical help, volunteers are also trying to find those on the missing list.

"We are cross referencing every person that we have in our facility with people on that list," said Debbie Johnson, a church volunteer. "And last night, our medical team was actually seeing people one by one, and they actually were successful in identifying 12 people on the list."

CBN's Operation Blessing is also on the ground in Northern California, meeting with church leaders and giving grants to churches that are helping victims.

Operation Blessing met the lead pastor of Paradise Alliance Church, Josh Gallagher. He told the team how his family barely escaped the Camp Fire which leveled their home.

Gallagher sent his family on to Sacramento but stayed behind to help other evacuees.

"Right now we don't even know where our congregation is," Gallagher told Operation Blessing. "They are literally scattered all over California, surrounding states, and the nation."

"But we don't even know right now, and that is the heaviest thing that's on our heart because we're supposed to be caring for these people spiritually and physically, and we're not even sure where they are at this point," he continued.

Gallagher believes the Church will be essential to rebuilding the community and is hopeful that Paradise, California, can be reborn as church leaders join with city leaders, and groups like Operation Blessing come alongside to help.

"As we were talking with some government officials, they let us know that if this community is going to be rebuilt, the faith community is going to have to lead the charge," he shared. "Because it's within the faith community that people find hope; they find belonging; they find worth."

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