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Faith in Action: Church Performs Ministry in Wildfire-Ravaged Area

Responding to the disaster, Ranchland Church's members put into practice what they had learned about service and compassion for their community.

December 2007

A member of Ranchland Church in San Diego talks with this little boy during a community event as part of the congregation's Faith in Action project. Photo courtesy of Ranchland Church.
When San Diego's Ranchland Church members took the challenge to put their faith in action, they never dreamed of the impact their fledgling congregation would have. Now, as 2008 arrives, the church is keenly aware that it has changed greatly in just one year.

"Our church will never be the same," said Pastor Wayne Monroe, who leads the 18-month-old nondenominational church.

'An Even Bigger Challenge'

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.

Opportunity Through Tragedy

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.

'The Beauty and Power of Serving'

As a result of the Faith in Action experience and the disaster response, Ranchland Church also is hiring a community resource director, and one member is organizing a San Diego Furniture Bank — the first in the San Diego area, Pastor Wayne said.

Ranchland Church is located in a community of more than 10,000 new homes that is best described as upper-middle class. Church members had the resources to share, Pastor Wayne added, but they needed the vision and direction to ignite their fervor to touch others in need. Faith in Action was integral in sparking this church's excitement to serve the community.

"The heart of serving just naturally exploded into action as the needs arose very quickly," Pastor Wayne said. "We are a new church plant, and this effort [Faith in Action] clearly inserted into our DNA the beauty and power of serving outside our congregation."

Learn More

>> Read more about the Faith in Action campaign.
>> Read about another church in Florida whose members put their faith in action.

Two Ways You Can Help

>> 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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