"Our church will never be the same," said Pastor Wayne Monroe, who leads the 18-month-old nondenominational church.
Earlier this year, Pastor Wayne introduced his congregation of about 400 to Faith in Action — a four-week campaign sponsored by World Vision, Outreach, and Zondervan — that equips churches with the tools to develop a community-centered ministry and hearts to serve. The church had just completed its Outreach Sunday in mid-October when the wildfires swept through northern San Diego, destroying some 500 homes in the community immediately surrounding the church.
The congregation was celebrating its success in caring for the local homeless, elderly, and foster children the weekend when smoke began to fill the sky. When Pastor Wayne and others walked into the church parking lot to leave, they could clearly view the devastating signs of disaster in the surrounding community.
"It was as if God said to us, 'Now that you've celebrated your service projects, I am giving you an even bigger challenge,'" Pastor Wayne said.
By the next morning, fire had spread to their neighborhood, destroying one church member's home and damaging houses adjacent to those of 15 other church members. More than half of the congregation was evacuated for up to five days as the fires raged. Newly equipped and confident to put their faith in action, the church members went to work identifying and meeting needs.
Soon the church had set up a fund to provide financial aid, and church members fanned out to meet other community needs. Some opened their homes to those who had been displaced. Others went to a local stadium where evacuees were staying and organized activities for the children staying there. And another member spearheaded an effort to quickly build a house for a family with 11 children that lost everything in the wildfires — and had no insurance.
>> Thank God for the opportunity Ranchland Church was given to put its faith in action during and after the devastating wildfires that struck Southern California this past fall. Pray that God's love and compassion for all people would be demonstrated through Faith in Action projects around the country, as it has been through Ranchland Church's work in San Diego.
>> Become a Faith in Action church. Share God's love with your community in a very tangible, meaningful way.
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