I’m writing to collect some thoughts about our recent happenings in Hutchinson. As many local readers know, we been dealing with wildfires since the weekend. Unseasonably warm temps + low humidity + high winds = ripe conditions for this type of thing. But, locals have really never seen anything like what’s happened these past few days. 6800 acres gone. Remarkably, only 8 homes. No fatalities. We’ve experienced kindness from God through all of this. Here’s a photo that shows an aerial view of the fire (this was from Tuesday):
I would echo Jason Probst sentiments in Facing Adversity, Hutchinson Shines. It’s been amazing to see people not look out for their own interests, but also for the interests of others. My struggle as a pastor who cares for people in my care has been getting figured out who needs help and how I can help. By my count, we had 18 families who lived in the “evacuation zone”. Yes, these are real life families, many with kids, or widows for whom I needed to have an idea of what was happening so that I could pray and mobilize people to act. Not all of these were facing the active fire, but they were in a zone that meant for some anxiety and stress. And, as pastor to these people, I carried their burden with me.
On Tuesday, we sent out an early message on how people could serve emergency personnel. We, like many churches, have those with mercy gifts who were ready to step in and help in this situation. This initial outlet gave them expression for their merciful hearts. Then, we did a Noon Meal (with Papa John’s support) and followed that with a kid’s movie and popcorn. The heart behind this move was wanting to give a place of retreat for those who were displaced or overwhelmed. It helped families to have a place to go and not have to be going on to other places or things, as well as being able to connect with other adults while their kids were cared for. I think it encouraged a good many people. Tuesday night opened up some subdivisions and refined the evacuation.
Now, tonight (Wednesday) we’re continuing our Wed PM activities for children (6:30PM) but offering a meal at 5:30PM. This will be another way to bring people together to encourage them. This has been an amazing week here in Hutchinson. Thank you for many who have prayed for us. In the coming days further ways our community needs to come together will emerge. And, please continue to pray because our first responders (who have been amazing through all of this) who are still fighting the fire in Hutch.