Wildfire, beginning November 23, continued to spread, raging over the mountains, fanned at last by hurricane-velocity wind, it engulfed Gatlinburg and extended all the way into Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Thousands were forced to evacuate their premises, both personal dwellings and businesses. Many accounts were told about a policeman knocking on their door to warn them, and then they noticed, for the first time, a raging inferno across the street, or behind their house, or coming down the mountain in their direction. The choking smoke, downed trees, or flames themselves, often impeded the way out, and had patrolmen not been leading them, death surely would have visited these people.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached throughout a world heading for flaming destruction forever. The resurrected Lord said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 NKJV). The urgency of this mission is expressed in Jude: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 20-23 NKJV). The work of the churches of Christ is to warn every family of the impending doom of a fiery future, and lead those who will, over and through all obstacles, to safety in Jesus Christ. Many people are not aware of their danger until someone cares enough to alert them.
While helping people in need because of disasters, we must continue our long-term mission, for it goes beyond the immediate need to the eternal urgency.
—–John T. Polk II