Sifting Leads to Praising

October 5, 2015 • United States

Samaritan’s Purse volunteer teams continue to recover possessions ravaged by Northern California fires. And God is receiving the glory.

Just like the miners of yesteryear meticulously panned for gold during the California Gold Rush, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers are today painstakingly sifting through ash helping homeowners recover precious possessions lost during the recent deadly wildfires in northern California. But in the case of these volunteers, their work is not for self-profit but instead selfless service done in Jesus’ Name.

To date, more than 350 homeowners—some in remote locations—have requested assistance from Samaritan’s Purse. More volunteers are still needed to tackle and fulfill these requests.

Volunteer in California

We have two disaster relief units on the ground overseeing the work. Our Butte Fire unit is based at San Andreas Community Covenant Church in Calaveras County. Our Valley Fire unit is stationed at Harvest Fellowship in Clearlake in Lake County.

Sifting through ashes is a tedious but rewarding process. Many homeowners are overjoyed when our volunteers find precious items they'd thought were lost forever.

Sifting through ashes is a tedious but rewarding process. Many homeowners are overjoyed when our volunteers find precious items they’d thought were lost forever.

In both locales, volunteer teams continue to disperse throughout burnt neighborhoods. They’ve battled hot and dry conditions as they continue to come alongside homeowners and demonstrate compassion, delicately combing through the rubble for items that survived the flames.

Their tireless efforts have not been in vain. As possessions are discovered, shouts of glee and words of praise echo heavenward.

Late last week, volunteers in Clearlake—the area affected by the Valley Fire—recovered Special Olympic medals that one homeowner’s son had won over the years. Her son has Down’s Syndrome and the medals are precious to the family.

“The fire has presented us with the opportunity to share the peace of Jesus with those suffering.”

In the same vicinity, a different team searching through charred debris found a wedding set and a 20-year anniversary ring belonging to one homeowner.

“She was so blessed and encouraged that word quickly spread through town, and I have received emails from multiple sources thanking us for bringing ‘good news’ to this area,” explained Jonathan Blevins, Samaritan’s Purse program manager coordinating the relief efforts in this location. “The fire has presented us with the opportunity to share the peace of Jesus with those suffering.”

The same is true in San Andreas, which was devastated by the Butte Fire.

Praying with homeowners in the wake of the Valley Fire.

Praying with homeowners in the wake of the Valley Fire.

One homeowner fortunate to escape the fire was John DeAngelis. Because of the quick evacuation, he and his family were forced to leave many valuables in their home, including an heirloom ring from the 1940s.

John thought the ring was lost forever. As a team of Samaritan’s Purse volunteers helped him sift through the ashes, they found the ring!

Despite losing their home, the DeAngelises still see God at work. “We have our faith, and we’re relying on God,” John said. “And we’re living by Jeremiah 29:11.” That verse says: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”.

Tony McNeil, who is spearheading the Samaritan’s Purse response in this area, commented: “We continue to find items that bring hope to the homeowners, but the most important message we deliver is the hope we have in Jesus Christ.”

Volunteer in California

That certainly rang true last week, when our volunteers were checking out potential work orders in one area. That opened the door for a conversation with a neighbor. Suzanne expressed her thanks for what Samaritan’s Purse was doing. When asked if volunteers could do anything for her, Suzanne responded that she and her husband were in their 70s and were getting tired, so the team leader suggested that they sign up for help. She did.

Within five minutes, another Samaritan’s Purse team called this coordinator to say that a homeowner hadn’t showed up at their site, so he directed them to go instead to Suzanne’s home. By the end of the day, not only had these volunteers helped Suzanne and her husband recover items, they also witnessed the couple committing their lives to Jesus Christ.

Please continue to pray for Samaritan’s Purse volunteers in this important recovery effort, and as they partner with crisis-trained Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains who are also there offering spiritual and emotional care to homeowners.

SUPPORT
U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

U.S. Disaster Relief 013622
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