FIRST-PERSON: Be thankful for what you have
HAYDEN, Idaho (BP)--"Be thankful for what you have."
Those who battle forest fires need chaplains; pastor leads initiative to form unique ministry
GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (BP)--Imagine a city growing from two people to 3,500 people overnight, each new resident a transplant from some other part of the country.
When firefighters from the Intermountain West are called to battle treacherous and deadly wildfires, that's exactly what happens. Thousands of seasonal firefighters from all walks of life descend on a camp, risking their lives to save entire towns from infernos that can char millions of acres of forests.
They bring with them the fears and anxieties felt by anyone in extreme danger. And they need spiritual help.
Carrying 60 pounds of gear into the forest for 12-hour shifts, Derick Osborne has been on the front lines of forest fires for four years and says he likes how his job helps people. Photo by Morris Abernathy
"These men and women are separated from their families. All of the frictions of life, the doubts and misgivings, are amplified for them," said Allen Lusby, pastor of Mountain Shadows Baptist Church in Grangeville. "We need to be able to minister to the young people who are at that camp, as well as their families back home."
Lusby and other Southern Baptists are beginning to do just that. They've formed the Wild Land Fire Chaplaincy and have begun putting in place a network of trained workers to minister to those on the fire lines. With help from the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, Lusby hopes to have teams of responders trained and ready in three intermountain states when next summer's fire season begins.