Doug Crowder, Pastor of Magalia Pines Baptist Church, risked it all to help save the lives of others as he rounded up thirty desperate residents and four church members to avoid the flames.
Pastor Crowder explained their daring survival in the darkest of times. “We were in the driveway planning to leave, and the entire world erupted.”
Crowder continued; “The woods exploded, the Subway restaurant across the street exploded, and on all sides of us was fire.”
Crowder, choked with tears, said that the group sprinted back inside the Church building, they huddled together and prayed. In the background they heard the roaring sounds of flames ripping through buildings, exploding propane tanks, and in that moment they cried to God for protection.
Powerfully, God answered.
The group survived, unscathed and untouched by the flames. Further, the Church building, where the group was taking shelter, also remained untouched by the destruction, in fact, the leaves were still on the trees on the property where the Church is located.
“We were totally unscathed — totally,” Crowder said, adding that “the fall leaves were still on the trees” on the church’s property.
The flames leveled the entire town, but the Church, the Church remained standing untouched by the destruction.
“It will be years before it’s a town again,” Crowder said. “But all through that, our church will be standing, and our church will be ministering.”
The Church posted the following in regards to the event; “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 11, ESV).
Magalia Pines Baptist Church stands out in the ashes that surround it as a beacon of hope to those who will soon be returning to find if they have homes or not. Some will, some won’t. Church members have been displaced along with those who have no church family–but all will have had the same awful experience of evacuation, uncertainty, and loss.”