I Will Arise
The phoenix is a mythological bird that regularly rises from the ashes and is reborn. We are witnessing this real-life “rising from the ashes” in Paradise, California.
In November, 2018, the Camp fire raced through the town, destroying 14,000 homes, schools, businesses and a major portion of the hospital. Eighty-five residents died, and the city’s infrastructure was decimated. It seemed impossible to resurrect the town; there was just nothing left to come back to.
The fire started when century-old, obsolete power equipment failed, sending a shower of sparks into tinder-dry brush. Driving winds sent flames roaring into the community before their emergency alert system could warn the residents. As a result, power company PG&E paid out a $10.5 billion settlement to the locals.
Resilient townspeople are now returning. So far, about 9,100 of the original 26,000 residents have moved back and built 2,128 homes and 434 multifamily units. Schools have reopened, and there is a pharmacy, grocery store and a few restaurants. The resurrected community is working to become one of the most fire-resistant cities in North America.
There are still several challenges for returning residents. The escalating cost of living in Paradise is pricing many out of the ability to rebuild. Some, though, are rising to face those challenges. Iris Natividad lost her partner and her dogs to the flames. She’s trying to return, but the cost of housing is still too prohibitive. She hasn’t given up. She’s opened a shop in Paradise for local artisans to sell their wares, and she’s seeing a steady stream of customers. “There’s a lot of people still rooting for Paradise,” she says.
The tragedy in Paradise also illustrates a harsh spiritual reality: the flames didn’t discriminate between believers and unbelievers. God’s people suffered loss along with the rest of the community.
The Psalmists echo that sentiment, regularly crying out to God in their misery. They also demonstrate the resiliency that comes through faith in God: “But the Lord says, ‘I will now rise up, because the poor are being hurt. Because of the moans of the helpless, I will give them the help they want.’” (Psalm 12:5 New Century Version)
Because God arises on our behalf, we can also arise from the depths of distress. It’s a simple reality of the human condition that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. The difference is often in our response to misfortunes. Will we be crushed by tragedy? Or will we put our trust in God to lift us out of the pits? When troubles come, we can say with the Psalmist “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice. … He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:6, 16 NIV)
Connecting: God’s people suffer tragedies such as house fires, divorces, layoffs, and bankruptcies just like everyone else. Have you ever had to start over from a devastating loss? How did you cope with hitting rock bottom?
Sharing: Many of the Psalms address injustice. Psalm 12:5 indicates that God arises to defend the weak from those who tyrannize them. How can we best partner with God in this ministry to the oppressed?
- We can work with agencies such as Amnesty International or the American Civil Liberties Union, who already have structures in place to assist the downtrodden
- We can examine our own lives to make sure that we are not—even inadvertently—adding to the sufferings of others
- I have no problem giving spare change to panhandlers on street corners
- I don’t know. It’s challenging to decide who really needs help and who are suffering due to their own bad choices in life (and will probably continue down that path in spite of my help)
- I can pray every morning for God to lead me to someone I can help, and then be open to God’s leading
Applying: Sometimes when we attempt to help someone, it can come off to them as if they are merely our latest project to salve our consciences and show God how good we are. How can we make sure that we always have the best intentions and the welfare of others at heart in our work to bless others?
Valuing: It’s not always easy to wait on the Lord when disaster disrupts our lives. How is your patience in times of trials? What are ways that you can develop your own personal “fire-resistant” approach to life’s problems?
~ Chuck Burkeen
As One Who Serves
Our newest resource, As One Who Serves: Perspectives on Adventist Mission & Ministry to Members, Families, and Communities is now available!
Much has been written about how the ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church can be more effective. There is a continued need for new approaches to ministry, guided by new and rigorous research. This volume honors the contributions of Monte Sahlin, who has dedicated his career to ministry and research spanning more than fifty years. The research, tributes, and other information presented in this book were each submitted by those who worked closely with Monte Sahlin during his career or were strongly influenced by his research, his many books, articles, presentations and blog posts and focuses on areas where Monte Sahlin has made significant related contributions:
- Pastoral Ministry, Evangelism and Church Growth
- Urban Mission and Ministry
- Compassion Ministries – Social Action and Community Services
- Church Administration and Leadership
- Family Ministry, You and Young Adults
This book is organized around important topics offering new and important insights for those in ministry within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, highlighting recent research and inspiring continued scholarship.
You can obtain this special volume in paperback or for Kindle by visiting Amazon.
PS: While you’re fighting the cold weather and sipping at a tasty hot beverage, Center for Creative Ministry would LOVE to be your indoor companion. Not only will we provide you uplifting resources such as iFollow and Amazing Transformations in Christ, but we also provide spiritual food like Sharing Scripture, and denomination-related reports and statistics.
To continue doing all this, we rely on your feedback, moral support, prayers, and prayerfully-made donations. Contributing to our year-end fundraiser tells us that you appreciate what we’re doing and have ideas of how we can grow together. We’re so eager to continue that journey with you.
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Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
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