(Story photo by Kathy Redmond. Cover photo by the USDA.)
USA (MNN) ― Colorado Springs, Colorado is ablaze. And in the middle of it all sit dozens of ministries.
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated to be kept safe from wildfires in the Colorado Springs area. Various fires merged to create an inferno of flames covering over 24 square miles of earth, according to the Associated Press. Yesterday, flames were fanned by winds as high as 65 mph.
Thousands of acres have been torched already, and now the concern is for mission organizations. Colorado Springs has long been a hub for Christian ministries. Compassion International, Bibles for the World, HCJB Global, Global Action, Biblica, and Focus on the Family are just a few of the dozens headquartered in Colorado Springs.
Some ministries have been more affected than others. Global Action's staff are okay, but the home of ministry founder Lars Dunberg is in the evacuation zone and could well be destroyed. Several staff members of Biblica and HCJB Global have been evacuated. Bibles for the World could not be reached for comment, but their offices are located nearly next door to HCJB Global.
Both the physical and emotional impact of the fire on Compassion International have been severe.
"When [the fires] merged, they came over the hill and into the valley where a lot of our homes are," says Compassion's Kathy Redmond. "Basically what it's done is swept down and across kind of northeast and into the Air Force Academy. Well, where Compassion's offices are is about a mile from the Air Force Academy, and basically right over the I-25 corridor."
"So right now," notes Redmond, "it's kind of scary to say, but really the only barrier that we have is the Interstate."
The smoke is thick at Compassion's headquarters. Most staff members are working from home, but for some, that's not an option.
"We have had staff who have lost their homes," Redmond explains. "We have staff who we think they've lost their homes; we're just not sure. We have had, of course, staff that have had to evacuate and move to homes of friends, or hotels, or churches."
The combination of Compassion's field offices in other nations and American staff who are still able to work at home, has allowed ministry to continue. The Gospel is still spreading, and children are still being sponsored. But for Compassion's work to continue completely unhindered, the headquarters needs to remain intact. Reports show that so far, the flames are only 5% contained and are predicted to keep blazing for weeks.
In addition, the emotional distraction that this fire is having and will continue to have on Compassion staff is significant. Redmond says this may be the biggest obstacle for the ministry right now.
"I think right now it's just the mental and the emotional state of everybody, because we're literally watching from our windows Colorado Springs burn. People are watching their homes burn. That's the devastating part: not knowing when it's going to stop."
To stop the flames at this point will take "something totally supernatural," says Redmond. "The greatest thing that can be prayed for right now is rain."
Pray, too, for peace and special protection for the staff and headquarters of Compassion and all other affected ministries. Pray that this disaster would not be able to hinder the great works God is doing through these organizations which are dedicated to spreading the love of Christ around the world.