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Redding Amidst the Carr Fire

Redding Amidst the Carr Fire

First of all we want to thank you. Thank you for praying, thank you for reaching out. Thank you for making the needs of this County known. Much of the world has seen the recent devastation caused by the Carr Fire in the Shasta County area. The wildfire started on Monday the 23rd but didn’t become an emergency to our city until later into the week. Our girl’s house is located in one of the first neighborhoods to be evacuated in Redding city limits. They had to pack up and head out early Thursday morning, and we began watching the news for updates.

What we began to realize is that while the news was informative, it caused quite a bit of stress and despair as flames seemed to be reaching closer and closer to our beloved city. Based on maps we were seeing, it seemed as if half the city was being engulfed in flames. Thursday night (the 26th) was a bit chaotic as rumors of a city-wide evacuation spread. However, no official order was given by police and we slept safely yet cautiously in our base’s housing that was still outside of evacuation zones.

The next day when we ventured out to drive around ourselves, we could see the reality of the situation, and we began to regain a greater sense of safety. We know that many of our friends, family, and future students are watching, so we wanted to give you all a realistic look at this fire through our eyes as life continues in our city. We want to assure you that we are safe, and threat of further damage in the city at this point is slim. We are focusing our attention and energy now on aid for families who have lost their homes, and on maintaining hope as we watch and see our God come through for us.

 

The Facts

The most important thing we want you all to be assured of is that we are ok! There are so many photos of raging flames and ruined homes, but we want to assure you that while this is all real, it is only reflective of what 5% of the city of Redding experienced (see map above). It’s devastating that over 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, but keep in mind that this is throughout all of the affected 110,000 acres of Shasta and Trinity Counties. The most densely populated parts of the city of Redding have remained mostly safe.

The worst of the danger for our city happened on Thursday night when flames could be seen clearly on the hills to the west of us. These flames spread to take homes in the neighborhoods of west Redding. Thankfully, though, by Friday morning things had shifted and the fire was moving away from threatening our homes and businesses. Miraculously as well, not every home in affected areas was leveled by the fire. We have heard many testimonies of family’s homes remaining untouched (our girl’s house included), even as their neighbors lost theirs.

Though the fires have continued to spread, they have been mostly moving away from the city, and containment lines have been made to prevent/ reduce the risk of further damage to Redding. At this point the spread also seems to be slowing down as opposed to in the first few days when they doubled overnight. We’re not 100% in the clear until this fire has been completely put out, but peace is fighting it’s way to the surface here once again.

The ominous red-orange glow of the fires is all but gone and has been replaced with a hazey covering of smoke throughout the city. Some areas of Redding are still blocked off with police enforced roadblocks (including our girl’s house location) but evacuation notices are slowly being lifted.

 

What It’s Like in Redding Now

There were many people who left Redding the night of the 26th, but many are returning. Downtown Redding is slowly coming back to life as businesses that had to temporarily close are opening back up. Life is slowly but surely carrying on. The strength of our city has been evident as people volunteer with relief efforts on top of their normal work. The 95% who have not had their homes affected are generously reaching out to their neighbors and needs are being met.

Over the weekend, and even into this week, restaurants have been offering free food to firefighters and evacuees. Evacuation centers were quickly opened by Red Cross, and many individuals have opened up their homes to friends displaced by the fires. Members of our community have been setting up pop-up stations around the city to give out food and water, and Bethel Church has opened up as a distribution center with the Salvation Army. Other churches and schools have opened up for firefighters to sleep, as evacuation centers, or as places of hope with worship, prayer, and even free counseling.

The strength and unity in Redding has always been one of our favorite things about this community. Seeing everyone rally together to respond in this crisis has been nothing short of breathtaking. Donations have been flooding in and fundraisers for families who have been affected are going strong. The local church has become a place of rest and hope.

We trust and believe in our God. The same God who lead the Israelites out of Egypt, who parted the Red Sea, who brought down the walls of Jericho, and who raised Christ from the dead is with us! We feel His presence and His peace all around us. We want to encourage the world that we are hopeful. That we are confident. We are strong and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Our city belongs to Him, and we are confident in His ability and desire to bring beauty from the ashes.

How You Can Help

We wanted to give you all a look at what it is like in our city. We don’t see the flames that have circulated throughout social media; thankfully the Lord and an amazing team of firefighters has protected us from that. We are a city of resilient life, and that’s what we hope you will see.

We know that the next few months will be crucial for our city as we take on relief efforts. Please continue to pray for us and for Shasta and Trinity counties as the fight to end this fire goes on.

Some prayer points include:

  • For flames to die and for the fire to stop spreading (whether by rain or divinely strengthened efforts of fire fighters).
  • For the air quality to improve miraculously. The ash and smoke has made it necessary to wear masks to protect our lungs. Pray that air quality improves despite this and that the Lord covers our community in supernatural health.
  • For families who have lost their homes or who’s homes have been damaged. Pray for peace, for the comfort of God, and for provision of finances and needs met.
  • For families who have lost loved ones. Two firefighters have died in the line of duty, and a family lost their grandmother and two children. Pray for comfort in mourning and Peace that passes all understanding to guard their hearts and minds.
  • For the local businesses and the economy in Redding. Pray that the economy is blessed and even thrives while damages are repaired, and for the businesses that have stepped up to help at a financial loss.
  • For Peace, hope, joy, and unity to be our covering. Pray that a supernatural peace and joy bind our community together as we put our hope in God. Pray for us to remain rooted in His goodness and love even amidst loss and hardship.
  • For our base financially as the displacement of our girl’s house challenges us. If you feel lead to give toward this need for our base specifically you can go to: ywamredding.org/donate

Thank you, from all of us at YWAM Redding.  

Most photos courtesy of Daniel Bigelow. Find more of his work on instagram.

 

Give Financially to Relief Efforts

If you are wanting to make a donation toward relief efforts, here is what we recommend.

  1. Giving through Bethel Church at bethel.com/carrfire. Scroll down until you see a line of tabs, one of which is titled “How to Give” You can give directly to Bethel Church for their efforts, or through the Salvation Army. Both of these will give 100% of proceeds toward relief for the Carr Fire. A link to the Red Cross is also given, however, donations there will be for disaster relief in general, there is no way to specify the Carr Fire.
  2. Burn 24/7 fundraiser at give.church/sx5w40q They have posted that, “All donations will go towards aiding the displaced, fire-fighters, medical personnel and anything to help in this devastation!  [we will publish a report of all that has been given and where it was given to]”
  3. Shasta Regional Community Foundation shastarcf.org/funds/cdrf. On their website it says, “100% of your donation (excluding online credit card processing fees) will go to Carr Fire recovery efforts.”

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You Can’t Outrun God | Outreach Testimony

You Can’t Outrun God | Outreach Testimony

A Divine Interception

Our Discipleship Training School outreach team just finished up two weeks in Fremont, California continuing our mission called Fremont for Jesus to let every family in Fremont hear the Gospel and have a personal copy of His Word.

During the week our team was in Fremont, they saw 10 salvations, many healings, and they delivered hundreds of bibles! It is amazing how God uses people to change lives and bring people into wholeness! Keep reading for one of their favorite stories!

“Our team was walking down the street and saw a man on a bike. One of our contacts stopped him to see if he spoke Spanish and struck up a conversation. With a scared look on his face, he said that he was on the run from people he owed money to. Our contact shared with him in Spanish about how God is our protector and provider. As she shared the Gospel—about how Jesus can make him new—the man began to cry. With tears going down his face, he gave his life to Jesus by the side of the road.

We don’t know this man’s story or what he did to cause him to go on the run. What we do know is that God wants to interrupt our lives with his grace, love, and protection. He loves to swoop in and rescue us. The man thought he was trying to get away from people who could harm him, but what he didn’t know was that he was being intercepted by the Savior of the world.”

God is Our Protector and Defender

Our Father in heaven watches over His children. After we are transferred from the Kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, no weapon formed against us can prosper. Our God is for us and nothing can separate us from his love.

What do you need God to intervene into? Maybe you feel stuck, abandoned, or vulnerable. Maybe you feel like you’re so deep in that you can’t dig your way back out. The good news is that we have a Savior who knows the playbook and wants to intercept you where you are – just like the man in Fremont, CA. No problem is too big for our great God! Take comfort in this promise from His Word:

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

(Psalm 91: 1-4, NLT)

Interested in getting involved with our stateside outreach in the Bay Area of California? Click here!

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A Refugee in YWAM

A Refugee in YWAM

Fleeing for My Life as A Refugee

One of the greatest challenges God gave me was to move from my native country to the United States as a refugee. A few years ago, I witnessed a political shooting. Being able to identify the shooter, put me in grave risk. After being stalked and intimidated, I fled to the United States as a refugee. I ended up in Miami with two bags of belongings and God’s voice saying, “This is going to be your new home.” In the natural, my situation looked dire: a new language, a new culture, a new system, and I had no family, no friends, and not enough money.

Starting Over in the United States

My faith back then was smaller than my obedience. This country gave me the documents and the opportunity to start again. But it wasn’t easy at all, and I struggled with many things. God stretched my faith, my character, my heart, and my role as a dependent daughter of the Father. Would He let me down? Never. I had nightmares, nights of crying. There were days where I could smell the breeze and I wanted to hug my family one more time. There were days when I focused on my pain instead of focusing on what God was doing.

One day, while working a part-time job as a waitress, I got tired and said,“God I don’t think you brought me to this blessed country just to pay my bills and send money to my family. I have a purpose. I know you called me to go to the Nations to share your Good News.” That same voice Who spoke, “This is your new home,” told me to “Look for YWAM.” The real adventure started to unfold.

Obeying His Voice Despite Everything

After receiving an inquiry email, a man from YWAM Kona called and explained to me what a  DTS (Discipleship Training School) is and that he was going to pray for me. Six months after that phone call, God opened doors for me to go to Kona, Hawaii. He miraculously paid for all of my school fees, outreach fees, and food. My DTS was the greatest experience of my life. I really met Jesus and I learned about His perfect love and my identity as His child – not just a refugee. He also gave me a huge present: a family of friends from all over the world. We loved each other, we laughed together, we cried together, we eat together.  We were a community of sons and daughters of the same Father!

A month after I graduated my DTS, God called me to YWAM Redding to participate in their School of Islamic Studies (SIS). Being a refugee and having an Arab heritage has put me in a unique position to reach Muslim refugees for Christ. In SIS, I’m learning God’s heart for Muslims and about how He wants to be their loving Father.   

Even though I cannot legally leave the United States, I have a big family and a new home. I’ve been collecting so many stories in this season—so many testimonies of God’s love, provision and faithfulness! He has given me all I need.

Yes, I came as a refugee, but I found a family.

Do you have a heart for refugees? Read and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to be in the know of ways that you can get involved: Click Here!

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A Journey Away from Isolation: Finding True Community

A Journey Away from Isolation: Finding True Community

I remember a time when I was at a young age– I had done something wrong, and in response to my actions someone close to me spoke words that made me feel isolated from real community: “You aren’t going to have any friends if you act like this. You’re going to be really lonely when you are older.”

What I heard that day was this: “If you let people really get to know you, no one will want to be friends with you.”

Many of us live in a society that tells us to be careful who we let in, open up to, and share our weaknesses with. We are continually told through media and other sources that our lives will thrive in perfection and appeasing our peers. Without Jesus, it is easy to fall into the trap and become plagued by insecurity and fear of what people might think if they knew just how messy our life truly is.

Where the Journey Starts

I want to share my story with you- the story of how God spoke identity and love into me as I found a community that changed my life. I pray that it encourages you to pursue godly fellowship with willingness to be vulnerable, for James 5:16 says “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

Growing up, I was consumed by the fear of rejection. I lived an isolated life, believing it was better to be lonely and keep my distance from people than to be turned away by them. I became perfectionistic, trying to earn the approval of those around me without having to let them into my life. I was convinced that my identity was rooted in what others thought about me, and I lived a life that reflected that.

As I got older, I started stepping into leadership roles within my church. I was deeply struggling, and at times I would find someone to confide in and share my hurting heart with. However, when the person would walk away from me, it left me feeling abandoned, rejected, and with more fear of trusting community, because I had rooted my identity in their approval and love. The enemy used this to pull me deeper into isolation, and I began living a double life. On one hand, I was a bright and passionate leader, conveying that I was filled with joy and living in freedom and had lots of friends. On the other, I was isolated and depressed, and never shared my struggles with anyone. Especially since I was a ministry leader, I thought I could not struggle.

I thought to myself, “What will they think if I claim to be a Christian and preach freedom in Christ if I am struggling?” I never let these two worlds collide. Shame had attached itself to me.

Praise God, this is not the end of my story.

God took me on a wild and crazy journey, calling me to do a Discipleship Training School. Before I started my DTS, God spoke the word “trust” to me, a prophecy for the season I was stepping into. I assumed He meant that this would be a time where I would learn to trust Him more. Besides, what does community have to do with my relationship with God? I thought. What I found was much, much more than I had anticipated.

As soon as I arrived at YWAM Redding, I became immersed in a community of God loving people, and there was a realness and a vulnerability in the community around me that I had never seen before. The girls I lived with were genuine. They were on fire for the Lord, but not the perfect people I put pressure on myself to be.

As I stepped into this community, my ability to hide was stripped away. This was terrifying at first, but soon I realized that I was actually loved, even in my mess. I was not judged for my insecurities.

What I found was a freedom to be myself. What I found was unconditional love, no matter what I had been through or what my past looked like. I found listening ears– people who wanted to know me, my story, my best moments and my worst moments. I found that it was okay to not be okay, and I found people willing to walk with me until I received the breakthrough. I found conversation with depth and meaning as we spent hours discussing revelations and moments of freedom.

One night, I laid in my bed with a hurting and fearful heart, feeling discouraged. Only a couple of minutes went by before I was surrounded by five friends who spent the next hour pouring into me, praying with me, and loving me.

This was not an isolated event, but a normal occurrence. I became immersed in a totally different atmosphere, surrounded by prayer, worship, and encouragement. During every hard moment, there was always someone willing to come and pray for me, and in every victory, they were there to celebrate with me.

Through these people, God showed me what Godly community looks like. Through these people, He taught me how to trust again.

Coming to DTS, I expected the classes to be powerful. I expected great times of worship. I expected to be stretched in evangelism. These are the things that I focussed on. And while I gained so much from the different aspects of a DTS and loved every minute of it, nothing changed my life more than the freedom that happened in the context of the relationships.

If you are interested in learning more about our Discipleship Training Schools, and getting involved with a true community, click this link: ywamredding.org/dts

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What is Evangelism? | Turkey Outreach Testimonies

What is Evangelism? | Turkey Outreach Testimonies

This week, our Turkey team has been out and about sharing the good news of the Gospel, seeing God’s hand move hearts and minds to salvation in faith, healings and miracles. This is despite facing strict restrictions as to what they can say and do in the refugee camp where they spend most of their time.

The team packs food for Syrian refugees and then distributes the sacks of food along with sanitary necessities such as pads, diapers, baby wipes, and milk at the refugee camp. A government worker is tasked to accompany them to ensure that the team sticks to their given job of distributing supplies only. The Gospel could not be shared verbally. Keep on reading to hear testimonies from their week!

“Every week we have the opportunity to pack food for Syrian refugees and then distribute the sacks at the refugee camps. Even though we are not allowed to share the gospel with the refugees we are confident that the generosity and care we show towards them will give them a glimpse of Jesus. Even just a smile can have a huge impact on these people who live lives that seem so void of joy at times. Since visiting the refugee camps, I have gained a new perspective on what it means to feed the hungry. Sometimes it seems like we are not doing much for the Kingdom because we are prohibited from telling the refugees about the Gospel. However, God has recently reminded me through Habakkuk 1:5 that we do not always know what He is doing and how He is using us for His glory. “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”  – Alizabeth

“We were out doing street evangelism when we randomly stopped to talk to three young men. It turned out that they were all Iranian, and one of them was actually a believer. The other did not have any specific beliefs, and the last was a Muslim. We went for tea with them and talked for over an hour. We asked them if they had any pain in their bodies that we could pray for; the Muslim man said he had pain in his neck and back. We prayed for him and Jesus healed him. He was incredibly stunned and didn’t even know what to say in response to this miracle. Later on, he called his mother who was in Iran and we got to pray for her over FaceTime. Jesus healed her head and her shoulder, much to both her excitement and her son’s. The next day, the man who said he held no religious affiliation asked us if we could come to the hospital and pray for his friend who had been in a motorcycle accident. We got to pray for him and also share the Gospel for over an hour with them. The injured man was not receptive, but the man who had brought us there was listening intently the whole time. After we left the hospital, he said that he had been reading the New Testament we had given him the day before and that he really liked everything in it. He then asked us how he could become a Christian! We talked with him a little longer and then he prayed to accept Christ into his life right there on the side of the road. He is now connected with the local Iranian church.”  – Allan

Either way, no matter the method of sharing Jesus or perceived restrictions we face or give ourselves, we can be sure that God is at work and He has the power to affect hearts, renew minds and open eyes in ways we cannot see or imagine possible in normal human logic.

The foundation of evangelism is pouring out love to others. Though we may face fear that hinders the sharing of the Good News, we are reminded time and again through testimonies that Jesus is attractive and very much needed in lives! We are His image-bearers, we are a reflection of who God is in all we say and do.

Jesus said in John 5:19, that He only does what He sees His Father do. The Son of Man can do nothing of His own accord. As we serve in seemingly small or perceived big ways, be encouraged that God sees our hearts and faithfulness. He is the one who would bring to life and fruition the work He has called us to do with our hands.

His love for His lost sons and daughters is greater than the compassion we have for them. Smile to show love at all times and present the Good News when opportunities arise!

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Love is a Verb

Love is a Verb

I have a confession to make. 

As a people-pleaser, I can have a really hard time saying no to people looking for my yes. When well-meaning family, friends, roommates or coworkers ask me to do something, how can I possibly say no?

“Can you come help out at this social event where you will undoubtedly feel awkward and weird?” YES

“Can you take on this extra work assignment that stresses you out and that you have zero time for?” OF COURSE.

“Can you do this last-minute thing for me that you actually have no idea how to do?” ABSOLUTELY.

But even if you’re a greater rebel than me (or just have a little more balance in your life), it can be even harder to say no to ministry… what feels like saying no to Jesus.

“Can you serve in the nursery even though you don’t like kids?” OK.

“Can you set up at church? And tear down? And run sound? And lead worship?” YES. YES. YES.

But even if we’re always saying yes, is it out of joy to love and serve Jesus and His people? Or is it out of guilt, a feeling of obligation? Is it from fear that if we say no, we’ll get on God’s “bad side,” that He won’t love us anymore?

I desire to live a life pleasing to God, to live like Jesus… I even give Him my yes, but I often struggle to give Him my yes from a place of love—loving Him and knowing He’ll STILL love me even if I sometimes say no.

Recently, I was taking an afternoon run around my neighborhood when Jesus asked for my yes.

A half block ahead of me, I noticed a man with a walker in the distance. I ran into the street to give Him more room, and I smiled at him as we passed. His face lit up and he even paused his shuffle down the sidewalk to smile at me.

But I kept running.

This was inconvenient. Seeing a “lame man” when you’re filled with God’s Spirit and His power to pray for people to be healed can really get in the way of your workout. I didn’t say this to God, but what I did next communicated the same message.

“Lord, touch him and heal him,” I sent up a little prayer, just something to check “praying for the sick” off my good Christian girl to-do list for the day.

With each breath and stride I took though, the man’s face continued to fill my mind, along with a string of what if’s. What if God wanted to use me to heal him? What if I ignored the feeling? What if the man wasn’t healed because I didn’t say yes to God calling me back to pray?

Of course, God could heal Him without any help from me, I reasoned. He’s God! A true statement—but another truth is that God gives us a heart and soul, in addition to a rational mind, to guide our actions.

Pause. Pray. Love. This was the Father’s invitation.

I turned around, starting a slow and hesitant jog back in the man’s direction. By now, he was in the middle of the street, slowly hobbling to the other side. Another inconvenience. “NO. I can’t stop him THERE!” I reasoned with the Lord. So I waited till he was safely back on the sidewalk. Then I ran. I didn’t actually know what I’d say when I faced him.

“Excuse me,” I said. He didn’t hear me at first. “Excuse me!” I said, a little louder. He hustled to the side, thinking I wanted to pass, and I felt bad for startling him.

Now I was REALLY feeling uncomfortable. “I hope this isn’t weird,” I began, huffing and sweating from sprinting toward him.“Do you believe in prayer for healing?”

“Well, yeah!” the man replied. Wow. Was this really going to be THAT easy?

I asked him what had happened, gesturing to the brace on his back and the walker before him. He shared about old football injuries, a collapsed disc, twenty years of chronic pain. As I listened, he shared even more—how he felt stuck at home, unable to work… struggling to be patient and hopeful. His doctor had told him it could take 9 months to a year for him to be totally healed.

I listened. And by listening, I loved. Then, I asked if I could pray. God’s grace saturated that sidewalk, and the man was so open and willing.

I prayed for his healing, for peace and patience, for the Lord’s presence to be with him during his recovery. “In Jesus’ name,” I said, and we shook hands. I buzzed with the exhilaration of saying yes to God. But I thought that was it.

Then the man asked, “Can I… can I have a hug?”

Without hesitation, I said YES.

As I hugged him, I felt the Lord filling me with an even greater measure of love for this man, using me as the arms of Jesus to embrace my neighbor with the Father’s love. All along I’d felt a sense of duty to pray for him, when really the Lord just asked me to say yes to love.

Then the man said something surprising. “You know, I’ve been thinking about God a lot lately… and then you came along.”

God delights in our obedience, but it isn’t His end goal. It’s our love. Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” (John 14:21). Saying yes to God shows we trust Him. Obedience is the evidence of our love.

Knowing He loves us, we’re empowered to love Him right back, even when obedience demands our all. Secure in the Father’s love, Jesus gave the hardest yes to give. The Father asked His Son to give up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. Jesus’ response? “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). Jesus’ loving obedience—a love that loves to the point of death—is a demonstration and declaration that His Father is a good Father we can trust and follow.

Saying yes becomes a whole lot easier when we know we’re loved. We say yes, not because of what it will do for us, but because of what Love Himself has already done. Love is a verb.

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