, with reporting by North American Division, ADRA Canada, and ANN
Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, has prayed for the people of Fort McMurray, Canada, after a devastating wildfire forced the evacuation of the city.
ADRA Canada and the Alberta Conference of Seventh-day Adventists are offering assistance to the displaced, using a jointly purchased disaster response vehicle that has been filled with supplies for those affected by the disaster. Local churches in the Alberta province, where Fort McMurray is located, are providing volunteers.
“We pray for the nearly 90,000 who fled, many under harrowing conditions, from the deadly flames that threatened their homes,” Jackson said in a statement. “We pray for safe travel as displaced people prepare to return to their homes; and for many, courage as they begin rebuilding their lives.”
Jackson praised God that no one has been injured by the fire, which has destroyed about half of the city and forced the evacuation of its nearly 90,000 residents.
Jackson also prayed for the firefighters and other emergency workers. Canada has declared a state of emergency in the area, and its prime minister was to pay a visit to Fort McMurray on Friday.
“We are grateful that, thus far, the lives of the brave men and women battling the flames have been spared,” Jackson said. “We ask God to keep the first responders safe as they make strides to get the fire under control.”
He prayed for those seeking to assist displaced people.
“We pray for the churches and relief organizations, such as Adventist Community Services (ACS) and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Canada,” he said. “These workers have been there from the beginning, providing assistance and shelter for those who sought refuge.”
The Edmonton South Seventh-day Adventist Church in nearby Edmonton has delivered 16 pickup-truck loads of supplies and other relief aid to people displaced by the fire, said the North American Division (NAD).
The church also is hosting people in its facility and has set up a donation center for toiletries and good-quality used clothing. Local Adventist families have opened their homes to the displaced.
ADRA Canada thanked the church members for their efforts.
"We would like to express our sincere gratitude to pastor John Murley and all of the members of the Edmonton South Seventh-day Adventist Church," it said on Facebook. "They have been tirelessly volunteering their time and resources in response to the Fort McMurray fires. Your efforts have been most appreciated, and you are all true examples of what it means to live like Christ."
ADRA Canada has teamed up with the GlobalMedic charity to send hygiene kits containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and towels to 2,000 people.
”The assistance will continue during this crisis — and in the coming days of recovery,” Sharmilla Reid of ADRA Canada said in a statement.
The Alberta Conference, meanwhile, reported on its website and Facebook page that it has received "confirmation from individuals who were able to drive by the Fort McMurray Seventh-day Adventist Church that it appears to be intact."
Jackson appealed for church members to keep praying for the people of Canada and to consider contributing financially to the relief efforts.
“For those of you who have been praying for all of those impacted by the tragedy, please keep praying,” he said. “For those of you who have supported the relief efforts of ACS and ADRA Canada, thank you!”