By Rik Danielsen

Shortly after fire broke out south of Prescott in late June, Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief was there to bring help, healing and hope to the evacuees of the Goodwin Fire.

The fire exploded and grew from 4,400 acres to more than 20,000 acres on Thursday, June 27. By the next day, more than 2,000 people, along with their pets and livestock, were evacuated from the rural town of Mayer and several smaller communities because of the imminent danger.

The number of firefighters grew to more than 1,000 men and women. Every resource imaginable was used to stop this fast-growing fire and to protect the lives and property of the people living in the Mayer area.

On Thursday, June 29, members of the Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team arrived and set up shop to help those who were staying in evacuation centers and those working in the emergency operations center. The kitchen trailer was parked at the Prescott Valley Event Center and was operating by breakfast on Friday, June 30.

The disaster relief team, which spent the nights at Willow Hills Baptist Church in Prescott, worked in partnership with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Along with other responsibilities, the Red Cross delivered the meals the disaster relief team prepared, which included breakfast and lunch, and the Salvation Army prepared the supper meals.

The greatest demand for meals was on Friday, June 30. Meal totals that day included 270 breakfasts and 130 lunches. By noon that day, a number of people had already been given the green light to return to their homes in Mayer, so the need for meals began to decrease dramatically.

On Saturday, July 1, the number dropped again, and the disaster relief team served 188 breakfasts and only 40 lunches. Even though the number of meals had gone down, those who received them were very grateful for them.

Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief was deployed again for two days beginning July 19. They provided meals for first responders and search teams looking for a man lost in a flash flood north of Payson.

Patty Kirchner, blue hat (on-site team leader) for both callouts, said there are several reasons she serves through Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. One is that there is so much joy in serving the Lord and people who are hurting, she said. She also said that there are often opportunities to show people without Christ that there are people who care because He cares.