Your neighborhood has just been put on voluntary evacuation status. This is the last level of readiness before the police call for a forced evacuation. What should you pack in your car? What precious items will you try to relocate through family and friends?
These were the questions that some of our US-MC families and OC supporters faced last month. On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, a fire broke out in the Black Forest area, a heavily forested residential community immediately north of Colorado Springs. The scene was all too familiar, bringing back images and emotions of the Waldo Canyon fire almost exactly a year earlier. Again, high temperatures, extremely low humidity, and strong, unpredictable winds “blew up” the fire causing it to spread rapidly and resulting in a devastating loss of homes and property. Two days of such weather conditions left the fire at zero containment and the fire fighters working 24/7 primarily to prevent loss of life, and to the extent possible, to prevent loss of property.
Many of you joined us in prayer, asking God to mercifully spare lives, calm the winds, and send rain so that the combined efforts of our brave fire fighters, the National Guard, and the logistic support groups would bring containment. Beginning Thursday and continuing through the weekend, the Lord dramatically altered the weather pattern which had been fueling the expansion of the fire. He lowered the temperature, raised the humidity, changed the wind, and even brought rain showers on the fire itself. As a result, the fire’s growth was contained and no further homes were lost. Even Saturday some of the 41,000 people who had to evacuate were being allowed to return to their homes. Your prayerful partnership with us through these uncertain days played a critical role for which we thank our Lord. We praise and thank the Lord for mercifully hearing our prayers and bringing the fire under control.
In the end, the fire charred more than 14,000 acres, destroying 509 homes and causing the death of two people. It is now the most destructive fire in the history of the state of Colorado. We are grateful that none of our US-MC families lost their homes, but we grieve with the many families (some of whom partner with OC) who suffered the loss or damage of their homes or properties. As you prayed with us that the fire would be contained, would you now pray with us for the churches and believers in Colorado Springs? May we manifest the love and compassion of our Lord toward friends and neighbors who have been impacted by the fire.
Dean Carlson, Vice President of Fields at the US-MC, whose home was within 300 meters of the mandatory evacuation zone reflected: “As I write, I’m looking northwest toward the burn area, contemplating the brutal realities that life can bring and the role of God’s people in incarnating His loving presence among people in need. Having to quickly determine what to put into the car and what to leave behind has provided a vivid reminder of the simplicity of life as designed by God (and observed during our years in Africa). Life as intended boils down to Jesus’ command to loving God and loving others. Everything else is secondary.”
The week following the containment of the Black Forest fire, more than 10 wildfires were burning in other parts of the State, some with minimal containment. Monday, July 1, 20 homes were flooded due to heavy rains in the Waldo Canyon burn area. As of July 5 there was a fire in the southwest part of Colorado which had been burning for a month and had taken 110,000 acres of forest. We covet your prayers.