We are praising the Lord today for preserving the lives and the home of our friends in Israel who live near where the terrible fire started in the Carmel mountains. Here is the email they sent:
'Thankyou SO much for your concern and prayers! We have not replied earlier because we were away from our home at a retreat planned before the fires began. A place prepared....
'We returned yesterday afternoon and were SO thankful to find our home undamaged and green surrounding us. Further afield, all is black.
''Last night was critical, with embers smouldering and often breaking into fire with the wind. Our sons took turns patroling the dangerous areas near our home. With the morning light the sky was full of planes of all sizes and shapes swoopng and diving around us, dropping water and chemicals on all the smouldering areas. We simply stood and wept at the mercy of God written in the sky.
'We are still trying to absorb that the disaster that has brought a world wide reponse began just 300 metres from our house. I was in the village when I saw black smoke coming from an area that seemed to be near our home. I raced home and phoned the fire brigade. They had already been alerted and were quickly on hand. Drought conditions combined with a heat wave in winter, however, were more than the local firemen could master. You all know what followed. The Carmel Forest is Israel's largest National Park, half of which has been destroyed.
'The response to Israel's appeal has brought help from 19 countries, including some we have considered our enemies. We are deeply humbled. We have seen planes from Russia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey...and more, descending upon our fires, bring salvation and not destruction. Our grandchildren have had a free air show from our own windows. 34 aircraft, 1000 policemen and 1000 soldiers are on alert around us, apart from the exhausted firemen and ambulance crews. Our grandson is one of the volunteers with the ambulances.
'There is no doubt that these raging fires have brought to mind, for many Israelis, the 'fire from heaven' in Elijah's contest with the prophets of Ba'al on this very mountain. The busload of young people consumed by the fire is burned into our hearts. Judgement is indeed terrifying, mercy in the midst of judgement is melting. We are fervently praying that many will recognise "the goodness of God that leads to repentance." [ Rom. 2:4] in the present help that is flooding into Israel's skies. In answer to your many prayers!
'We are also praying for the mercy of rain, abundant rain, to do what man cannot do, to drench the earth and restore vegetation.'