Larry Shelton stood by the Pacific Ocean, feet pressing into the wet sand. Then, without warning, the peace of the moment gave way to an anxiety attack. The pounding waves produced a roar reminiscent of the raging fire that consumed Shelton’s California home two months prior. It had been the deadliest in the state’s history. Shelton and his wife Faith lost everything, save a few personal belongings hastily thrown into their truck.
Photograph by Joseph Miller
A retired pastor, Shelton had felt a calling in 2017 to pivot toward mentoring other clergymen. He has his share of scars from decades of ministry and understands pastoral care is needed by those who serve the body of Christ. God inspired the idea of a “rest and relaxation” ministry; the Sheltons’ home in picturesque Paradise could be renovated to host guests.
As construction wrapped, however, the Camp Fire of 2018 decimated the town. At the time, Faith was at work in nearby Chico, but Shelton and thousands of others fled for their lives.
For nearly three years, the couple lived as nomads, sleeping on couches at their adult children’s homes and then finding their way to Montana. They almost decided to remain, but Shelton continued to think of the people who needed a different kind of shelter—pastors dealing with burnout, ministers in need of a safe person to confide in, outside their denomination or immediate circle. The decision was made to rebuild.
Now, the Sheltons regularly host other ministers at their newly rebuilt home, a place that offers kayaking, fishing, and someone to come alongside as guests sort through their struggles. Shelton’s calling is to counsel, encourage, build up—to meet people where they’re at and lead them deeper into the paradise of Christ’s love.