Leaders Ask for Prayers and Unity in Time of Disaster

( [email protected] ) Nov 01, 2003 06:40 PM EST

SAN DIEGO – California’s governor, Gray Davis, urged all faithful to pray for the victims and firefighters of the deadliest wildfires in decades, Oct. 30.

The surging fires left hundreds of thousands of acres scorched, 2,800 houses destroyed, and 20 dead. Among them, was firefighter Steve Rucker, 38.

"Obviously, we need to keep Steve Rucker's family in our prayers and I hope every Californian will," Davis said in an interview with the Baptist Press after a news conference Oct. 30 in San Diego. "He [Rucker] died while trying to save a home. I have been praying for Doug McDonald and I hope others will. His doctors told me he will recover."

Davis wasn’t the only leader who looked towards God for strength.

"I believe God has been with me through this. He has been my major source of strength,” said San Diego Mayer Dick Murphy.

Murphy asked for prayers of families who have lost their homes in the fires.

"Our immediate prayer need is for those families who have lost everything," Murphy said. "All their belongings, including their pets, have been destroyed."

In addition, Murphy praised ministries in the communities for their healing touch in the midst of tragedy.

"There has been an outpouring of support from the San Diego faith community. The faith community has helped many victims."

He noted, "It's been a miracle to watch different congregations come together -- Baptist, Catholics, Jews, Muslims -- to help the community."

Murphy met with 15 different members of the faith community Oct. 29 to begin planning an interfaith service, slated for 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at the United Methodist Church in Mission Valley.

With 14,000 firefighters working full time to contain the blaze, experts expect the fires to die down by next week.

"We almost see the end of the fires in San Diego," said Andrea Tuttle, director for the California Department of Forestry. "By next week we should see the end and start a new phase of damage assessment. But we are never sure what the winds will do."