Published Sep 07, 2021
By David Roach
QUINCY—As pastor Daniel Hanna ministered to Northern California residents displaced by the Dixie Fire, he learned about a senior adult whose dentures had been lost in the blaze—which has burned nearly 700 homes. She hadn’t eaten solid food in days, so Hanna asked if he could help. One call to a local dentist set the woman on a road to assistance.
“Sometimes in Disaster Relief, the ministry is just helping people get the process started,” said Hanna, pastor of Chester (Calif.) Baptist Church. “They feel so hopeless in certain situations. Just to know someone would help her with that problem that seemed insurmountable” brought relief.
A resident of Indian Wells stands with tanks of much-needed water supplied by CSBC Disaster Relief volunteers. The resident had no water after his well burned in the Dixie fire, one of several burning in Northern California.
Hanna’s efforts typify California Southern Baptists’ response amid more than a dozen active fires in Northern California. They have burned more than 1,000 residences and forced 50,000 evacuations. But as the wildfires burn, so does the passion of Baptists to minister to their affected neighbors.
Since July, California Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief units have served more than 2,900 meals in the relief effort. Among blazes of greatest concern, and greatest ministry focus, are the Dixie, Caldor, and River Fires.
The Dixie Fire ignited July 14 northeast of Sacramento and has burned nearly 850,000 acres with just over 50 percent containment. The fire engulfed the town of Greenville in early August, including the fellowship hall and youth building at Greenville Southern Baptist Church.
Shelters in Quincy and Portola received three meals per day for a week from CSBC DR units, state DR director Mike Bivins said.
When residents reenter the Greenville area, the local Feather River Baptist Association will set up a reentry assistance center with food, core supplies, spiritual care, and help with personal property recovery.
The Caldor Fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin is threatening more than 33,000 structures and has provoked mandatory evacuations. DR feeding units supplied 100 meals a day at two shelters for two days and are on standby for additional service if conditions worsen.
Placer Heights Baptist Church in Placerville sheltered eight families at the church facility, with DR kitchen and shower units dispatched to help.
The River Fire, which burned more than 2,600 acres in Placer and Nevada Counties, was contained in mid-August. It has spawned 12 personal property recovery efforts by DR units and some feeding. “The biggest challenge ahead of us” is to finish property recovery before fall rain sets in “and obstructs the people from cleaning up,” Bivins said.
As with many Northern California DR volunteers, Hanna’s ministry will continue for the indefinite future. This week he delivered water to a family in Indian Falls whose well was burned. He also launched efforts to make an old well usable again for that family and the entire community.
“The infinite glory of God is bigger than this fire,” Hanna said. “We as Christians need to live that out in our community.”
A happy Indian Wells resident provides water for his animals after CSBC Disaster Relief volunteers supplied water tanks after his well burned in the Dixie Fire.