While the situation is a long way from being back to normal for Pastor Tim Bolin and his church in Paradise, California, things are looking up.
The entire town of Paradise was scattered to the winds after the Camp Fire ravaged their town last month. Pastor Bolin wasn't sure there would be any pieces to pick up, even though the church and his home were among the few buildings that were spared by the flames.
Bolin took inventory thanks to a church in nearby Chico, which is allowing his flock to meet in its facilities every Tuesday night as a displaced congregation. "We're looking at several hundred people who still want to make this church and this community work," he reports, "and we've been meeting at a church down in the valley – and it has been fantastic."
So a plan is forming that might make Paradise Alliance Church a beacon of hope among the charred ruins. Bolin says they've been getting help from Christian disaster recover ministries as well.
"Samaritan's Purse, actually, is going to be on our campus," says the pastor. "They're going to be using our campus to house up to about a hundred volunteers at any given time for the next three or four months."
Chandler Saylors with Samaritan's Purse tells OneNewsNow that volunteers will be helping residents literally sift through the ashes to find items that might have survived – items like wedding rings or china. (See related story)
"I have never seen anything like this," Saylors admits. "You see things in the news, but it's much different when you're on the ground and you're face to face with these homeowners who have suffered so much grief."
Bolin says it's going to take a while to get their building back in shape and in use. "[We] probably won't be able to have our church services in our facility on a regular basis until probably February [or] March," he laments.
But the pastor is looking forward to a special service there for as many of the displaced residents as can come.