On November 8, 2018, the town of Paradise, California was destroyed by the state’s deadliest, most destructive fire. Hope Christian Church lost their building, and the ministers and many members lost their homes. But the people were all evacuated safely. We visited with Lead Pastor Stan Freitas and shared a bit of his story in the article “Hope from the Ashes.” Here are some more hope-filled stories that blossomed from that tragedy.
When the leadership at Stone Creek Christian Church in Oregon City heard about the Camp Fire, they realized a new family who had begun attending Stone Creek for a few weeks had just moved from Paradise. Other Stone Creek members had ties to that area also.
Tim Long, Lead Minister of Stone Creek, said they prayed about it and decided to take a special offering. After reading a Spiritual Capital email sent out by CDF, they designated funds to help Hope Christian Church. Tim was candid—finances have been a struggle at Stone Creek this past year. But when they announced a special offering, the church gave twice their normal weekly offering and sent $10,000 to Hope, plus additional funds to other relief efforts. The giving lit a spark.
“We’ve been challenged by this,” said Tim, “and shifted our thinking.” Giving is not just about keeping the church doors open. Stone Creek wants to be excessively generous to reach their community and beyond.
More. More. More!
Mark Briggs, Stan Freitas, and Chris Delfs
On November 8, 2018, Chris Delfs got a group text: a fellow minister, Stan Freitas, and Hope Christian Church were in trouble from the wildfires. Chris is the Senior Pastor of LifePointe Christian Church in Elk Grove, some 100 miles south of Paradise; while he had seen the news, he had never met Stan in person.
After getting the text, Chris prayed, “Lord, what do you want LifePointe to do?” He sensed they should send money, as it might be more helpful than collecting clothes or items at this point. “We prayed about it and felt we should give a percentage of Sunday’s offering. As we prayed, God kept saying, ‘More. More. More!’”
They decided to give half of whatever they collected. They spread the word to their people to be generous. On the Sunday before the tragedy, LifePointe happened to have the highest giving they’d had on a regular Sunday. Then, when asked to pour out their generosity toward Hope, the LifePointe family of God topped their previous week’s giving. In the end the church was able to send almost $25,000 to Hope.
“I was so excited to call you and tell you about this,” Chris told Stan with a smile.
Standing on a Promise
Jeana Darby, Worship Minister at Hope Christian Church, grew up in Paradise. “Every single place that I had lived is gone. Places from my childhood and growing up—they don’t exist anymore.”
The day of the fire will forever be seared in her mind. She was one of the evacuees who got stuck for hours in traffic, unable to drive, unable to reach her husband, Don, on the phone as flames grew on either side of her. “It was quite traumatic. Then I feel so blessed because so many other stories are ten times worse than what I went through.”
Now she is trying to build back up her community, her family, her church body. “We sing songs and we mean them and we worship. But all of those songs about trusting—we’re living them now, moment to moment. . . . It’s heartbreaking, and it’s uncertain. But God is good. And we have each other. So we keep standing on that promise . . . and waiting.”
More from Hope Christian Church
We hope you are inspired by the stories in this issue of The Cornerstone. Thanks for being a part of God’s work to transform churches and lives.
We were so moved by the ways we have seen the Lord working through the people of Hope Christian Church that we want you to have the opportunity to hear even more from them. Please follow the link below to find additional stories and videos from Paradise, California.