Last week, we fussed over which set of clothes to wear for work.

Last week, we argued with each other over which way to vote on election day.

Last week, we scrolled through our collection of movies and shows – fretting about which one we wanted to consume in our free time.

Last week, we grumbled about how our loved one forgot to pick up that one thing from the store on their way home.

Last week, we kissed those same loved ones to bed.

Last week, we slept.


This week, we re-wore the same t-shirt that smelt of smoke because it was the only one we managed to grab while rushing our loved ones to the car.

This week, we collaborated with each other about how to rebuild our lives and community from nothing.

This week, we spent our free time waiting to find out if our houses were still standing or if our loved ones were alive.

This week, we were offered free food from complete strangers and given more by friends.

This week, we held every person we knew closer than ever and didn’t let go.

This week, we awoke to something new.

This week, we became family.

Christopher Kam works as a hospital chaplain for Adventist Health: Feather River Hospital and lives/lived in Paradise, California with his wife and 10-month-old daughter. He graduated with a degree in English from Pacific Union College and worked for 2 years on his Masters of Divinity at La Sierra University before pursuing a future with his family in his wife's hometown where they lived for several years before it burned down in the Camp Fire.

Photo: The ruins of the Paradise Adventist Church. Photo taken by Christopher Kam.

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while waiting for a ship to take us to the South Pacific we were trucked to Mt Shasta to fight the final stages of a forest Fire. We walked the line killing any smoldering stumps etc. We had a high regard for the professional fire fighters. Carrying a Five gallon water pack up high mount trails was more than basic training. The best part was the meals by the wives of the forest fighters. The next best was the fighters bed time stories of mountain rattelers etc.


Thank you for that stark reminder of how quickly and how greatly our lives can be changed. You are experiencing the blessing of being ministered to by others and I am thankful that there are people who care enough to help. I wonder what opportunities God will create in this disaster for those who love him, including those who have lost everything, to minister to others and the ways His love and power will be seen.

May God be with you in this difficult time.


We have NO IDEA what it is to lose everything. To lose the ability to make money
to be able to restore oneself to minimal living.


what an excellent poem this is…it really helps me put myself in the shoes of those who lost so much in the paradise fire, even more so than some of the videos i’ve seen on the news…

“True Community is based upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity. It affirms
the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind
is together. The marks of community of faith are communion, participation,
mutual trust, sharing, and fellowship” — Pauli Murray: “Selected Sermons and
Writings,” pg 210.
Pauli is the 1st black woman ordained a priest by Episcopalians 1978.
A very courageous woman. Was involved in desegregation movements mid-1940s,
was denied Law School attendance because of being black [finally obtained a Law
Degree]. Was later Denied further Law training because she was FEMALE. Went to
Calif to obtain it.
Real name – Anna Pauline Murray [1910-1985]

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Scripture tells us that it is a greater blessing to give than to receive. I think we need to put some perspective on that declaration because charity is a transaction that only happens when there are both a giver and a receiver. The amount of the blessing depends a lot on the timing. The blessing to the giver seems greater because they get the privilege of seeing the magnitude of the need and experience the joy that comes from delivering some degree of relief. Things are very different for the receiver, who may be overwhelmed by the depth and duration of their situation and going through the process of grieving the loss of what their life was before tragedy struck. For them the blessing comes on a day-to-day basis and the weight of their situation gets relieved a tiny bit at a time. Often I have reassured people who just lost their home, or who saw their entire community devastated, that they will get through the situation, that things will get better for them. The kind words helped but it was only when they were looking back months or years later that they realized the number of ways God’s love was shared with them by people who cared. That is when the recipients of those acts of caring become devoted to ministering God’s love to others in the same way and when they see the results of their deeds of kindness producing evangelistic results far greater than they have ever seen from sermons. So I am hopeful that as the recovery takes root in disaster areas like Paradise that we will begin seeing an eruption of faith in God like the community has never seen before.

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i think this is very likely, actually…the one good thing about tragedy is the fact that people do tend to reach out to god…because they reach out with everything they have and are, they receive in a way they didn’t before…

one of the parts of LGT that is true, despite a few important errors, is the character the final generation will develop…this is because they’ll be passing through tragedy that is difficult to picture right now…probably the whole world will look like paradise, california, just from the seven last plagues…if we’re living at that time, we’ll all be running for our lives, and starving, without any sleep, and with very little hope…

I find it amazing how quickly people with a strongly apocalyptic spiritual view jump from ministry opportunities to talking about things like the seven last plagues. I find that both frustrating and disappointing because the person making that leap almost invariably is doing nothing to touch people with God’s love by acts of kindness that relieve their suffering, even in small ways, after their lives have been totally upended. I’ve been searching my Bible for years to find where Jesus ever told us to make our spiritual priority be watching for the fulfillment of prophecy and I still haven’t found it. What I have found is His commands to get our hands dirty as we work to relieve suffering and to demonstrate God’s love in our kind acts. In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to “let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Deeds of kindness are the good works Jesus wants us doing. So when people talk about end-time events I wish they would make their hands move more than their mouths and that they would actually getin involved with relieving suffering.

By the way, I live too far away from the California fire areas to get directly involved. But I work for a government agency that is beginning to deploy people into the fire areas in California to deliver vital recovery assistance and I have already submitted my request for assignment. We’ll see what happens.

try Matthew 24, or Luke 21…here are a few samples:

“Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matt 24:4

“But pray ye that your flight be to in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” Matt 24:20

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matt 24:42

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think both the Son of man cometh.” Matt 24:44

"Take heed than ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time drawer near: go ye not therefore after them. Lk 21:8

“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” Lk 21:34-35

“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Lk 21:36

i don’t think it’s an either/or situation…part of being vigilant and ready for the end of the world is to engage in deeds of kindness that make a difference in peoples’ lives, while there’s time…disaster relief, either directly, or through donations, is a part of doing what we can to be ready for christ’s second coming…and deeds of kindness are sometimes a vehicle through which we can tell others what will be happening to our world…

Nice try. When Jesus warned about the “end of the age” he was talking about the fall of Jerusalem. He never told us to be so focused on end-time events that it becomes our primary spiritual focus. He gave us an example of doing lots of good works in the here and now. He was focused on showing people the great love of the Father so he had no time to dwell on end-time events. The only time he spoke of them was when He was directly asked and his answer was relatively short. I choose to be focused in the same way and not distracted by discussions that prevent us from doing as He did.

I think it is an either/or situation because the people I have met who were talking about end-time events have almost invariably been about as active at touching people with God’s love as a rock.

Mark 13:1-8. Jesus has just been teaching in the Temple, commented on
the widow who put 2 coins in the collection plate, and now Jesus and the
disciples are leaving. Heading to Mt. Olivet.
They comment on the beautiful grandeur of the Temple. Then Jesus says,
this Temple is coming down - not one stone on another.
On the hill overlooking the Temple Jesus talks about The End.
vs. 8 – This is but [just] the beginning of the birth-pangs.

Paul continues this thought in Romans 8: 21,22,23. “whole creation groans
and labors with birth-pangs together until now.” “we groan within ourselves.”
“The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into
the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Births the True Kingdom of God.
Jesus says, “Don’t be alarmed” when one sees the awful destruction of the
earth by nations and kingdoms destroying each other. Nor by the awful
destruction that occurs when tectonic plates of the earth move.
“This is just the beginnings of birth-pangs.”

i don’t agree…i think he was talking about both, but primarily his second coming…in Matt 24 he references the “coming of the Son of man”, or something similar, six times, and in Lk 21 he references it twice…this expression doesn’t belong to the fall of jerusalem…

That’s the counsel we need to be following. Don’t be concerned about those things because He gave us a far more important task: demonstrating the immense love of the Father by acts of kindness so that others will be drawn to Him.

See, but the thing is though: the people who tend to share that perspective the most are 1) almost never actually the ones who are the victims of that destruction and 2) almost never the ones who are jumping to try to be on-the-ground responders for these same situations.

And yes, my family and I lost everything to this fire as well, and I’m just saying – political and theological rhetoric and debate border on worthless in situations like this. It’s nice to be able to armchair disasters like this from above the whole scene, but its another matter entirely when you’re in the muck and the mire of the aftermath; because when you are, you find that quoting verses or platitudes at the people whose very beings have been ripped to the core has, at the very least, the effect of coming across as disingenuous.

I would point to the example of Jesus who, when meeting people in need of various degrees, resorted not to quotations or scripture, but to action and compassion. That being said, He did find appropriate times to engage in theoretical discussion; but it was almost always reserved specifically for the times in which people were not in need, or when talking to the church and temple leaders (the very people who, again, were often the worst at responding to people in need via action instead of passive scripture quotation (e.g. the story of the Good Samaritan)).


At the risk of saying the wrong thing, I am so sorry that you have lost everything to the fire. Could you post here places that we, your brothers and sisters, could send resources to assist you and those like you to get back on your feet?

I hear your frustration! If I were in your shoes I would probably feel the same way.

I’m one of that small number of people who jumps to help. I used to be a volunteer firefighter and for a dozen years I have been leading a ministry team at my church where we help people with home-related challenges. Sometimes we can schedule when we help and other times we go right now and figure things out on the fly. The love of God compels me to help because of how my family and I have been helped and the blessings we receive from being His hands touching others with His love.

Living on the other side of the country has prevented me from already being there. Still, that isn’t preventing me from coming to help because I work for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the largest provider of human and technical resources assisting FEMA with recovery operations after disasters and I was among the first where I work to volunteer to be part of the response team. I expect to learn in the next few days whether I will be heading to northern or southern California and what I will be doing. Whatever it is, we will be working 12 hours a day, seven days a week to make things happen for you and everyone else who have been impacted by these disasters. I will be away from my home and family for 30-60 days and, depending on the remaining need, may even return in the future.

Your life has been totally upended with a sudden severity you probably never imagined. It can feel like you have nothing for which to be thankful, but you do. Believe it or not, God is giving you the gift of an opportunity to learn how to be thankful in all things. I hope you will give thanks to God for even the little ways He is providing for you, even if it is just having something to eat or primitive shelter. I hope you will also take comfort in knowing that large-scale help is on the way. Should we have the chance to meet while I am there, I am looking forward to hearing you tell of how God is providing and helping you, your family and community.


Great Post.
9 months after my wife and I were married, on a cold day in January while we were at
work our house burnt to the ground. All we had was our car and clothes we had on that
God helps one rebuild their lives, one day at a time.

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William, I’m glad to see I was right about you.

You are a good-hearted person.

The political partisanship masks your true self.

That said, trottingslug is suffering right now, and like Harrpa, I’m afraid to say the wrong thing.

It’s so easy to try to cheer people up in the Lord, but it’s often really just to make ourselves feel better, because just being present with suffering is so very, very difficult.

Your being there and helping out is gold. That’s far beyond what I can do,

God bless you and all the others who “come along side” to help, and God bless those who are suffering.


I am glad you have that experience to help you empathize. That gives your testimony real credibility.

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