The morning of Nov. 8, 2018 a firestorm blasted through Paradise, a northern California town with a large Adventist population, destroying most of the town and nearly 19,000 homes and businesses. The more than 1,200-member Paradise Adventist Church was destroyed and the Adventist elementary school and Feather River Adventist Hospital were damaged.
Many people lost their lives as they fled. Some burned in their vehicles attempting to evacuate. Others haven’t yet been found.
Former RMC youth director Steve Hamilton, who moved with his family to Paradise in October to serve as senior pastor at the Paradise Church, lost almost all his possessions in the fire. Able to safely evacuate with several vehicles, he and his family now face the task of not only rebuilding their own lives, but helping an entire church rebuild.
People from Southern California and Oregon Adventist churches showed up immediately with relief goods, filling a gymnasium to serve the first wave of need. “We’ve already gone through three semi-trucks,” Hamilton commented two weeks after the tragic fire. “The Red Cross and FEMA are just now getting set up.”
Hamilton helped to distribute the goods that were brought in by other churches from California and Oregon and worked on setting up an office where he could facilitate the massive amount of things needing attention. He was also instrumental in getting the school up and running by the end of Thanksgiving break.
“Steve is at his best in an emergency,” said friend and former RMC colleague Matt Moreland. “He will face this challenge with confidence.”
Following the destruction, Hamilton was able to view their former home and take a photo of the leveled house to show his wife, Delinda. Her response was, “Good! I couldn’t face myself if our house was intact and all the other church members’ homes were burned.”
Expressing his appreciation for RMC’s support, Hamilton said, “It’s knowing that our friends in RMC are backing us up and praying for us that makes us strong.”
Photo: Steve Hamilton