Gideons Reach Out To Families Displaced By California Wildfires

On Saturday morning, September 12th, Peter Zacharoff, a member of The Gideons International, was attending a prayer breakfast at the Black Bear Diner in Napa, California. He and his fellow Gideon brothers in Christ had no idea that just over the ridge, a fire had sparked that would soon destroy an entire valley, claim at least three lives, and destroy over five hundred homes with thousands more in its path.

While wildfires have become somewhat common in drought-stricken areas of California, the fires on this day were particularly devastating.

That night, Zacharoff checked into a motel in the town of Dixon and headed out for dinner. It was then that he noticed ashes falling from the sky. News of the wildfires began drifting into town as well.

The next day, after making the drive back to his own home in Castro Valley, he watched the heartbreaking scenes unfold on the TV news–thousands of Californians being evacuated as their homes burned to the ground.

“I knew at that moment what the Lord wanted us to do,” says Zacharoff.

Gideons Come Together To Offer Hope

At about the same time, thoughts of the wildfire evacuees were also weighing heavily upon the heart of another Gideon, Dale Botsford, who lives in Fort Bragg. During that morning’s worship service at The Coast Christian Center where Botsford is a member, the congregation prayed for the people in areas impacted by the wildfires.

Recognizing the need for offering hope and spiritual comfort to the many people directly impacted by this natural disaster, Botsford, Zacharoff, and other leaders in the California-Nevada North State Association of The Gideons International began praying for opportunities to share God’s Word with wildfire evacuees.

Sharing God’s Word With Those Who Have Lost So Much

The next day, Dann Solomon, president of the Napa Valley/Vallejo Camp of Gideons, was one of the Gideons sharing Scriptures with the Valley Fire evacuees who were being sheltered at the Napa Fairgrounds. He was joined by another Gideon, John Crossman. As the two men walked through the fairgrounds, they offered copies of God’s Word to people who had just lost their homes.

As one might expect, the mood around the fairgrounds was very somber. However, there were signs of faith.

“Some told us their Bibles were the first thing they grabbed when they were told to evacuate their homes,” says Solomon. “One lady gave me a hug, as though she had just received the gift she had been waiting for.”

Solomon and Crossman were able to distribute approximately 150 Scriptures there.

On Tuesday, Ernie Frye and Dale Vargo, members of the Lakeport Camp of Gideons, distributed 321 copies of God’s Word to fire evacuees staying at various locations, including the Kelseyville Presbyterian Church, a senior center in Clearlake, and a local high school.

Other Scripture distributions are planned as well, including distributions by a Gideon camp from Sonora for those displaced by the Butte Fire.

“I know from personal experience, that after events of utter destruction, lives can be rebuilt upon a new foundation, that being Jesus Christ,” says Zacharoff.

“Overall, people have been very receptive to receiving copies of God’s Word,” says Botsford. “We pray we’ll have enough Scriptures and enough help to get copies to all the people directly impacted by these fires. So many people have lost so much.”

We thank the Lord for our members in the California-Nevada North State Association and for their faithful service in reaching out to share the love of Jesus with their neighbors in the midst of these devastating events. And we thank all our supporters whose donations provide for Scriptures to help the lost and hurting find the everlasting hope that comes only from a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Please keep praying for the families of those who died in the fires, as well as for all who have lost homes and other personal property. Also, please pray for the protection of the firefighters and that weather conditions will be favorable for extinguishing the fires as quickly and safely as possible.

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