USA (MNN) — More than 300,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Southern California with Santa Ana winds fanning flames across the region. An estimated 1,000 homes have been burned, churches destroyed, and residents fleeing for their lives. The fires have affected ministry in the region.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has work on many college and university campuses. Natalia Kohn is a team leader for InterVarsity's MiraCosta College, and we were able to talk with her as she was evacuating. "We have fires east and west of us and all around. Schools have been canceled all over San Diego. There isn't one school [holding classes] elementary through college. People are just praying all over the place."
Kohn says Christians on college campuses in San Diego haven't responded in prayer like this since 9/11. "Having [disaster] in our own backyard I think brings it to another level of awareness."
While InterVarsity is all about ministry, Kohn says the fires have limited that. "We haven't had a lot of student contact because they're all with their families. And if they are in their dorms, they're leaving for other cities. There's haven't been meetings going on. We've had to cancel almost everything this week."
However, Kohn and other Christians have been praying for revival in San Diego. She's not sure if this is the beginning of that, but she's hopeful. "People are way more open to God when they have no control over what's going to happen to their own safety and their own haven. When that's threatened, people start really looking. I feel like in the next week, we're going to see a lot of things happening in churches."
According to Kohn, a popular secular radio turned to God for answers. "One of the DJs is a Christian, and so he called his pastor to come on the air and pray for the city."
While reports indicated the Santa Ana winds were easing a bit yesterday, the fires continue to rage out of control.
President Bush declared a federal emergency for seven counties, a move that will speed disaster-relief efforts. He also sent federal disaster officials to California.
"All of us across this nation are concerned for the families who have lost their homes and the many families who have been evacuated from their homes," Bush said.