Republished with permission from Stan Frietas and Hope Christian Church.
Dear Hope Church Family,
You have been on my heart every day since the Camp Fire began. I'm so sorry for the difficulty and loss you are dealing with.
I wanted to write and update you on some of the things we are working on for the church.
First, we have been blessed to worship at New Hope Fellowship. From December 2 on we will meet at Grace Community Church in Chico. Both of these churches reached out to us, and I have felt God's hand in the way people continue to come to us at just the right time. I have shed a lot of tears of gratitude.
Stan with the only remaining piece of their building.
We have had an offer to have our offices at Grace Community Church or at another private spot in Chico. We will check both places out and will confirm with you where our office will be. We are meeting with Grace Community to talk about logistics and our new partnership sharing their facility. We had Christian Relief ministry coming in to bring Jeana, Megan and myself laptops so we can set up our new Hope office network. I tell you this so you can praise God the way Christians are coming from all over the country to help Hope.
I was asked to be interviewed by a Brazilian news team that had seen the picture of the cross still standing after the fire. This is a secular news channel which broadcasts to all Portuguese-speaking countries. I prayed about it and came to the conclusion that it's an opportunity to put in a word for our belief that in Christ we always have hope!
The news team was able to get on the Ridge and they took us by our home and then by the church facility. I could tell they were really looking at our reaction to make the news juicy. I think they were a little surprised that we didn't fall apart standing at our house that is now ashes. I could see it in the interviewer's eyes when he said, "But this is all of your belongings, how do you feel?" Standing in the rubble of our house I told him, "It's only stuff. We have each other. My heart hurts for people who lost loved ones. Jesus said, 'is not life more than clothing?'" The news team was kind, and it was a blessing to be taken up to the Ridge.
It was good to share Hope at our place and at the church, but I want you to know something else. Yesterday I was contacted by a pastor in Brazil; he was touched by the interview. Along with encouraging us to stand strong, he said he is asking churches in his city to donate to help Hope church. I don't know if it will be a big amount or not, that's not the point—I just want you to know that God is using that news broadcast to tell our story all over the world! He's a good, good Father.
I know that some of our Hope family will need to move. We are scattered. Nobody, absolutely nobody, should feel guilt in needing to move. You will always be part of Hope, and you will spread Hope wherever God takes you!
We also need all of our people, whether you stay with Hope or have to move, to keep in prayer! We had an awesome 40 Days of Prayer campaign that I believe helped prepare us for this moment. This is our defining moment! This is our opportunity to share Hope with hurting people from our beautiful Ridge.
I want you to know that I am committed to give the rest of my life helping one another rebuild our homes, working together to rebuild our church facility, and working together to rebuild our town to show the love and Hope in Jesus!
Though our numbers may go up and down for awhile, we have a core that is dedicated to rebuild, we have a church facility that we will be using at Grace Community, and we have Christians around the world committed to help us as we rise from the ashes!
I find some irony in that my message for Nov 25 that was planned before the fire is "The Secret of Contentment in All Circumstances." Then On December 2 we begin our Christmas series (also planned before the fire) entitled "God With Us." Part 1"God With Us in the Valley," Part 2 "In the Wilderness," Part 3 "In the Storm" and Part 4 "Always" (Christmas service). Together we are going to go through this challenging time looking at how God is always with us! He has been doing amazing things even while we have been through disaster.
He is not done with us Hope! You know why I know this? We are still here! Remember, we are building relationships that last forever! We do that by Loving God and Loving People! And we are a testimony that in Christ we ALWAYS have HOPE!!!
I can't wait to see you tomorrow,
I'm so blessed to be your pastor,
Pastor of Hope
Just three days after the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA destroyed their church, their homes, and their entire town—Stan Frietas led his congregation in a worship celebration service.