Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives to test us, to see if we will trust Him in challenging times. In the midst of difficulty will we still conduct ourselves as His representatives? This last week has been a challenging and rewarding time for Cachagua Bible Church.
Five members of the church and a couple from "down the street"(has a completely different meaning out here) finished two Saturday training sessions to be part of the Cachagua Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT). This last Saturday we had a final meeting and were issued our photo identification badges. We finished about noon and we all left the Jamesburg School and headed down Tassajara Road.
I made my way to Sanctuary to finish working on my message for Sunday - but the Holy Spirit had been impressing on me all week that the message was not to be about continuing in Acts. The last phrase in my message was: "Keep your eyes on Him - not on your circumstances - they will change - He does not!" During the next few hours this message would make a lot more sense to me.
Finished with my message I checked my phone messages, a fire had started in Cachagua and it looked like it was near the church. Pastor Dave and I spent a moment in prayer and I headed out to the church.
My friend in our Cachagua ministry, John Hammond, drove to The Ranch and I met up with him there. We stopped by our neighbors to make sure they were OK and found out as much information about the situation as we could from firefighters so that we could inform others. The Lord impressed on my heart to go to The Ranch and get photos of the red sun and helicopters - which I did. The electricity was out and it was going to be a long, restless night.
Sunday morning I was up early, it didn't look like we would able to have services because of the road blocks. Before trying to email everyone about service, I drove up to the fire command on Tassajara Road to see about the fire damage. I met up with some of the Cachagua Volunteer Firefighters and got an update. As I was leaving I talked with a female U.S. Forest Service officer and introduced myself. I got back in my truck and the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart to give her one of the message notes I had with me. I got out, she got out of her truck, I chickened out, got back in my truck! The Holy Spirit led me to back up and ask her if she goes to church and she said she did and was missing not being there. I asked her if she wanted a copy of our message notes and she did.
To get any phone reception I had to drive to the top of Cachagua Grade. I sent out an email that we would not have services and there was a message from the county Office of Emergency Services (OES) on my phone that said our CERT team had been activated for duty on the fire. We were to meet at Tassajara Road and Carmel Valley Road at the command center and report to the Sheriff. Members of the church, John Hammond, Dana Mellinger and I responded, as well as our neighbors. We were to escort folks in to see if their homes were still there, then escort them out with the assistance of the Sheriff. We all worked to about 6pm. Before we left, John and I were told to report at 7:00am the next morning.
Monday, John and I showed up to the command center a little before 7am and we were both given the keys to a Sheriff’s vehicle, equipped with satellite phones because communications is so difficult out here. Each of us was given an intersection to direct traffic. Some great conversations occurred during this shift. Locals appreciated "another local" directing traffic and explaining there were roads they could not go down. It was great relationally. Both John and I met folks we had never seen before, and they got to know us.
One highlight was being able to take a young couple to their home, which was still standing. They were allowed by the Sheriff to stay and clear out some brush around their home because the fire was still burning across the creek from their backyard. About an hour or so later we could see helicopters dropping water near their little home because the fire kicked up. They are safe and so is their home!
The opportunities that God has given us to serve our community these last few days have been great! We have established new relationships, we are gaining a reputation as people who really care about the community, and the future will provide many more opportunities for us to serve, short term and long term.
After all of this, and much more that I have not recorded, God grabbed my attention to remind me of the central purpose He sent us all here: To serve Him and the people of this community with the love and gospel of Jesus Christ!
Even as I write this, there is a meeting shortly out here. The community will get together and find out what the specific needs of folks are and have an opportunity to give thanks for those who diligently fought the fire.
YOU are part of this story. God has worked through Sanctuary and the leadership to commit to this ministry, even though there have been some awesome "curve balls" that God has thrown our way.
Pastor Dave, Pastor Grant and I share the same passion, we want folks in Cachagua, this valley and the peninsula, to place their trust In Jesus Christ alone, and to help each of YOU grow confidently in YOUR faith. Why? Because God may choose some of YOU to follow Him in future ministry birthed through this church!
Refiners Fire burns off the dross so the gold is purer - just as challenging times strengthen our faith in Him!