Before the Carr Fire
Last month, Village Missionaries Jake and Kathryn Leichliter were delighted when six children gave their lives to Christ at Vacation Bible School. A few weeks later, the town of French Gulch faced devastation by a forest fire, causing evacuation of the community for 18 days.
The duties of Village Missionaries take them through great triumphs and terrible tragedies. Yet, even amid this fire, God works. Jake and Kathryn’s both wrote an account of how they saw God working and shared it with us.
Kathryn’s Thoughts from the Carr Fire Evacuation:
With the fire 3 miles from our house, and the wind blowing in our direction, we started packing up. I tried driving out toward 299 but the flames of the Carr fire were towering in front of us, so I had to turn around. We drove 65 miles up and around Trinity Lake. The rough gravel road and potholes caused several people to lose tires and hitchhike.
Most people here need a listening ear and a hug. They feel anxious and overwhelmed, leaving behind animals and medication, struggling physically, not knowing how their house fared. Jake and I try to be available when people need to talk or need assistance. We also help the Red Cross volunteers.Two VBS kids (both were saved at our VBS this year) lost their home. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we trust God to guide us in His wisdom and take care of us. I am so thankful for the peace He brings and for the prayers. It is as if God took His hands and parted the fire right down the middle of our gulch to spare our town. What a testimony to prayer (and firefighters)!
Jake’s Service During the Carr Fire Evacuation:There have been a lot of people that I have never met, so it’s been great to chat with them and get to know them. The Carr fire has opened doors into lives that normally would be closed off and unwelcome to strangers; now we can have good conversations with people. Tonight, Kathryn noticed a woman outside crying. Kathryn had a wonderful conversation with her. I was able to get almost everyone together last night for some prayer time as well.
We held a church service at the evacuation center on Sunday and it was so good to sing praises to our Lord for all to hear. After we finished singing, a kid that was sitting off to the side (not “officially” attending church) came running up to me and said he liked the music! It was such a joy. There have been so many seeds of hope planted in the people I’ve been around since July 23. I look forward to continuing to water those seeds while we await word to return to French Gulch.
Update: After 18 days of evacuation, the residents of French Gulch returned home. Jake took this photo, showing how the Carr fire flames came within 50 yards of the church building. A zoomed-in look at the map found at fire.ca.gov shows an “island” that escaped the flames; French Gulch lies there.
You can provide financial aid for Village Missionaries impacted by the fires!
Jake & Kathryn Leichliter have been serving in French Gulch, CA for 3 years. Jake served in the Air Force before joining Village Missions to pursue rural ministry, where his military background helps him connect with the community.