USA (MNN) — The Colorado Waldo Canyon Fire has sufficiently burned tens of thousands of acres of land. On some of that land lie the remains of believers' homes.
The Evangelical Free Church of America has a number of churches in the Colorado Springs area where the fire struck hard last week. In a matter of days, one EFCA church was in an evacuation zone. So far, the church buildings have been spared. But as the churches rejoice in the safety of their buildings, many church members are lamenting the loss of homes.
Mark Lewis is the Crisis Response director for EFCA TouchGlobal. After speaking with the EFCA churches in the area, he tells MNN, "In almost every church there are displaced families to some degree. Several of the churches have half or more of the congregation displaced."
It's bad enough for members, but what happens when the man that's supposed to lead his congregation in hope during this time is also closely affected? Pastor Rob of First EFC in Colorado Springs was nearly a casualty of the flames.
"He literally watched the fire explode over the ridge by his house and was driving away down the street as the fire raced down the hill behind him," says Lewis. Rob's home was not even in a designated evacuation zone. In his haste to leave, he left his suitcase on the front porch and left the house with nothing but the shirt on his back.
Miraculously, Rob's home is still standing. But the pastor and other leaders are understandably shaken from the trauma.
Attention to emotional and spiritual care will be first on the TouchGlobal agenda in responding to post-fire needs. Physical care for homes will take some time.
"At this point, the areas are really too dangerous to get in for us to even get assessment teams on the ground," Lewis explains. "But we're initiating the process of spiritual care right now."
Lewis adds, "We're going to make sure that the leaders in the church are cared for first, as they need to have the emotional, spiritual stamina to then be able to care for others."
Once it's safe enough for the TouchGlobal team to actually get on the ground, they'll begin to assess what kind of rebuild assistance will be necessary.
The entire disaster has been catastrophic, but there have been some hopeful sprinkles of spiritual rain in the midst of the flames.
For one thing, Lewis notes, the response of safe church members invited evacuated brothers and sisters into their homes was a beautiful expression of the Body of Christ. For another, whatever the coming rebuild process entails, it will undoubtedly open some hearts to the hope found in Christ.
Lewis has helped respond to tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes. In his experience, he says, "Anytime God disrupts the normalcy of life, it provides an opportunity. People ask questions."
As the fire continues to rage, the biggest need is for prayer. Pray for the church to respond in a way that would illuminate Christ. Pray for the fire to end. Pray for peace for church members who are still unsure about the conditions of their homes. Pray for the Lord to turn ashes into beauty, as only He is capable of doing.
The EFCA is working to mobilize a broader prayer effort. To join or to give, click here.