On the afternoon of August 18, 2011, I received a phone call from my husband. He said that I-5 near our town of Rogue River, Oregon was shut down due to heavy smoke. Several small fires had started all along the eastern side of the interstate.
Dry summer heat, coupled with high winds, produced a blaze that was quickly out of control. That evening, several families evacuated from the area, and firefighters’ reports said that the blaze was “zero percent contained”, in spite of the fact that many local fire stations had dispatched teams of firefighters to the scene.
Firefighters worked diligently (from the air as well as from the ground) to stop the spread of the raging flames. By the next afternoon, fire authorities reported the blaze as “forty percent contained”. After some days it was all out, and thankfully, no homes or lives were lost.
Many firefighters were stationed in the parking lot of our church during the fire. Providentially, our small church family was away that weekend for a church camp-out, leaving the building closed and empty.
When we returned and had a look around the next weekend, I could not help but think of Psalm 91:
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Whether God worked through the hands of firefighters or angels–or perhaps both–we are not really sure. What we do know is that our church is safe and now stands in the center of a land of charred trees and ash. Take a look at these pictures which I took on September 3, just over two weeks from the day the fire started.