The last few months have been incredibly trying or many of our communities and residents in regional parts of New South Wales. After enduring years of drought, our farmers and outback towns were hit with some of the largest and strongest fires on record. Many have lost absolutely everything. There are reports of families living out of burnt-out vehicles. Some of these areas have received support from ADRA Australia, Adventist Community Services (NNSW Conference) and from local Adventist churches, yet there is so much more that needs to be done.
How can you help? If you are from a coastal church that has not been affected by the drought and fires, one of the best things you can do as a church community is adopt a church that has been affected. By partnering in this way we can support each other. Some of our coastal churches have already been working toward this and it has been very effective and appreciated.
One example of this is Coonabarabran. The Adventist church in Coonabarabran contacted Adventist Community Services Director David Haupt requesting assistance for their efforts supporting the local community. Their request was for $3000 allocated to specific initiatives. Murwillumbah Adventist Church agreed to partner with the church in Coonabarabran and presented this request to their congregation. The Tweed Valley Op Shop was also brought in on the partnership and they pledged to match any funds raised by Murwillumbah dollar for dollar. A total of $18,000 was raised for the church in Coonabarabran - funds which will go directly to helping residents who are trying to rebuild their lives after losing everything.
As mentioned, some of our coastal church are already in the process of partnering up with regional churches, however there are still around 12 churches in affected areas that desperately need help.
There are also other ways that you can help. One family has donated a caravan which they were not using. This caravan will be used as temporary accommodation for those without a home. Why not plan for a special SES and Fire Brigade Appreciation Sabbath? Invite your local SES and Fire service to your church, have a special lunch with a celebration cake and a service to match. You can also present a “Thank You” certificate. Make sure that you invite local media.
If your church would like to adopt a church, run an SES appreciation Sabbath or want to support in some other way, please contact David Haupt (Adventist Community Services) to receive more information and begin supporting struggling Australians.