(Photo: Outreach, Inc.)
Relocating his family and business to scenic Colorado Springs, Colo., a place where several of his ministry partners were already headquartered, was something Scott Evans, president of a large-scale church marketing and publishing organization, said he felt led by God to do nearly two years ago.
Last Sunday, three days before the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history destroyed nearly 350 homes and claimed two lives, Evans and his family left their home in Vista, Calif., with their belongings packed.
The Evans began their trek to Colorado Springs knowing that their new office for Outreach, Inc., and new home were both in the Waldo Canyon fire evacuation zone.
"Saturday, in the process of having our moving truck packed up, we started receiving a few texts from some ministry friends that a fire had broken out and that our neighborhood had been evacuated," Evans explained. "We prayed and felt like the Lord said, 'Go in faith and I will be with you.'"
While traveling towards Colorado, Evans and his wife received more fire updates.
"We saw pictures of some flames cresting on the ridge right behind Cedar Heights (community with Evans home). The fire was moving quickly. At some point, my wife and I just thought, 'Wow, there's a really good chance that we are moving to Colorado Springs without a home,'" he said.
However, after more prayer, he said, "We just felt this peace from God and thought that no matter what, we are going to choose to praise Him. So, we continued our journey and we arrived Monday night."
The five-day-old Waldo Canyon Fire became a vicious firestorm on Tuesday when high heat, low humidity, and up to 60 mph winds were too much for firefighters. The fire jumped two fire breaks and was soon described by witnesses as "apocalyptic" in nature.
The Evans stayed in the home of friend and apologetics ministry leader Mark Mittelberg, whose house was several miles away from the epicenter of the Waldo Canyon fire. However, the situation at the Mittelberg's home also became tense during the week when that neighborhood was given a pre-evacuation notice. But they never did have to evacuate.
Last Thursday, two days after the firestorm, Evans was able to determine by viewing an online map of the fire devastation and by looking through binoculars on a nearby ridge that his house did not burn down and was not damaged. Looking at the charred area, he saw that the fire had come within 1,500 feet of his property.
It was an amazing revelation for him, considering that the home was located on the outside edge of Cedar Heights and up against the national forest. Already knowing that the Outreach office was also undamaged, he was further relieved to know that the homes in the entire Cedar Heights neighborhood had been spared.
Evans never imagined that the normal difficulties that arise in relocating a business and a family would be compounded by such a tragedy in Colorado Springs. However, throughout this last week he still believed he made the right decision.
"We started this journey about 22 months ago. Our lease in Vista was coming to end and we asked ourselves, 'Could we be a better steward by relocating somewhere else?' One of the things God [revealed to] me back in August of 2010 when we came to visit Colorado Springs was the sense that He was calling us here," he said.
Over the last two decades, Outreach has helped more than 60,000 churches, mostly in the U.S., to distribute more than 500 million invitations in various forms. The company is promoting the current "National Back to Church Sunday" campaign and previously promoted faith-based films such as "The Passion of The Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."
Forty-five employees – about half the company – and their families decided to relocate from their homes in the San Diego area to the new headquarters in Colorado Springs. Several families made the move this last week and the rest are expected to arrive within the next couple of weeks.
"Our mission is to help equip the church to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their communities," Evans told The Christian Post during the interview.
"Eventually everything on this earth is going to burn up. What counts is what we do for the kingdom of God and storing up treasures in heaven," he continued.
"I think we are all asking the questions, 'Why? Why this week? Why the very week we are moving here?' Moving is tough enough but for our 45 employees and our families it's difficult because plans are having to shift, and they are at hotels, and storage facilities are gone, but the faith community here is just amazing. People are offering to put-up our employees in their homes who they don't even know," he said.
"As we look towards the west out of our office building windows, we're going to see the charred hills probably for years to come. But that is going to be a reminder as to how important our mission is," he added. "For us, this will forever be a reminder of our mission that what we are doing at Outreach – that it is so important, and it's eternal, and it's about the kingdom of God."