As active wildfires continue to burn in British Columbia, World Renew is deeply grateful for the many individuals, local organizations, provincial agencies, and churches of various denominations who are coming together to support evacuees and first responders in this time of crisis.
"Many people in B.C. are springing into action to come to the aid of their fellow citizens living in the fire-stricken British Columbia interior. Cariboo Community Church in Williams Lake, as well as other individuals and churches, is providing food and support to firefighters, emergency personnel, and evacuees," said John Vanderhoek, a World Renew Ambassador in British Columbia. "I believe that united we can do more than we can individually, especially when such efforts are guided by experience, knowledge of those who would lead such an effort such as World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS).”
"World Renew is and will continue to work with churches, individuals, and organizations in British Columbia who are impacted by and/or responding to these fires," says Bob Laarman, director of World Renew DRS.
The following communication was recently distributed to the Christian Reformed Churches in Classis British Columbia South East:
The official statement as of today, July 12th:
The Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake continue to monitor fire activity in the region. The evacuation alert for the City of Williams Lake and surrounding area remains in place.
Thirty-four thousand people are affected by this crisis.
Currently, we are experiencing a brief reprieve from the very hot weather conditions and strong winds. Everything outside is quiet and still, although it is still very smoky.
Due to evacuation orders issued to surrounding communities and the evacuation alert in the City, a good number of people have left the community, including a fair number of people from our congregation.
Most community members have headed up north to Prince George for safety. Highway 97 north of 100 Mile House is closed both ways. HWY 97 north of Williams Lake is open, but once you leave you can not return.
In my conversations with people and from my observations, it is obvious that personal and communal stress, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty are as thick as the smoke that envelopes the community. Please pray for God's strength, comfort and His ever abiding presence to bring peace, hope and love for each one. Please pray that God would quieten our hearts with faith that trusts in His faithfulness.
The fire fighters, emergency response teams, police, and volunteers are responding superbly to this crisis. We are so thankful for their presence.
Please pray for their safety, and the renewing of their strength. Pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment in setting priorities, developing strategies to deal with the fire, and the organization and mobilizing of people and resources.
On a personal note: Clarice and I are sticking around until the evacuation order is given. At the moment, we have been busying ourselves in ensuring and encouraging people in our congregation, volunteering at the evacuation centre, preparing lunches for the RCMP with other church members and ensuring that our children (3 who are employed by forest services) are safe and doing well.
Post script: We will be in a better position to discern diaconate assistance once everything settles down. Thank you for your prayers and concern for your brothers and sisters in Williams Lake.
Pastor Paul Lomavatu
Cariboo Community CRC
Williams Lake, BC
Please continue to pray for all of the people affected by the wildfires and for World Renew as it works to help those in need. Your donations to North American Disasters 2017 are welcome and will support those affected by these fires.