Adventists Respond to NSW Drought and Fires

By David Haupt - Adventist Community Services Director

Resilience is a vital keyword at a time of crisis.  Resilience - the ability to flex or bounce back after enduring severe stress or trauma!  I see it in nature – in the small green tips of grass and leaves starting to sprout out of the black scorched tree trunks or burnt off grass paddocks.  No rain yet, but in faith and hope that it will…

I have just returned, a week ago, from a trip out west in our Conference, presenting “Resilience in the midst of a crisis”, a program targeting a small farming community where in the past week, three funerals had been held.  Each funeral was for a farmer who could not bounce back under the strain of stress. One farmer per day commits suicide in Australia, due to the drought. These are alarming figures.

I’m proud to be an immigrant to Australia.  Australians are a resilient nation.  They are battered from all sides through disasters, but they continue to standing together, rebuilding and supporting the battlers.  I see a clear resemblance between them and the Australian bush itself!

Allow me to share very briefly what has happened in response to some of the current raging crises in our conference territory.

Drought:

Late last year Sanitarium Food Company gifted Adventist Community Services with 29 pallets of food products. These products were generously transported by a member from Wallsend church to our outlying districts, to be distributed amongst the farmers in need. 

Money donated by two of our ADRA Op Shops and Tweed Valley Adventist Op Shop was used to purchase more products from Foodbank NSW in order to provide a variety of food products in the parcels delivered to farmers.

The NNSW conference, supported by the AUC made funding available to support church members affected by the drought. $2000 per adult and $500 per child up to age 15 was gifted at the time.

ADRA Australia also ran a Drought appeal and is still offering financial support to families that are struggling ($500 per family).

This drought is not going to be over anytime soon.  Although in some places a bit of rain has fallen, it is not enough to fill the dams, nor replenish subterranean water sources.  Nor is it enough for the grass to grow sufficiently to support herds of farm animals.

Some of our churches out west are requesting financial support so that they can buy more food through foodbank, because it becomes a means by which they can support the farmers in their community, making connections, and helping to build resilience in the midst of a major crisis.  I think that this could be a great way that our city churches could support our country churches.  If your church chooses to do this, then please work through the conference Adventist Community Services department to maximise your generosity.

Fires:

I am proud to be Adventist!  The way that some of our churches (12 in total) responded was phenomenal (and still is, because some are still continuing)!  Some of our churches had opened their church doors and accommodated people in their church buildings.  They fed them, cared for them and responded to their needs.  I believe this is what Christianity in action is all about. 

Some of our other churches supported the SES and Fire Brigade with food and water. Others rallied their troops together to prepare and safeguard properties as the fires were approaching.  Others fed people in the evacuation centres, while other churches became unofficial evacuation centres!

Stuarts point became a standby evacuation centre, but they did not simply wait. They provided mattresses, bedding, towels and pillows, and eventually supplied three evacuation centres with these items.

ADRA has allocated funds for affected families (contact your local pastor) but we have recommended that government grants first be accessed since they have greater pools of money available. So far, ADRA has financially supported 4 churches in their relief effort.

Once again, as with the drought, our Conference has provided financial support to affected Adventist families through the Seventh-day Adventist Fire Relief Fund which provides $2000 per adult and $500 per child up to age 15 on the condition that the property loss is greater than the financial support (contact your local pastor).  The AUC is providing financial support and we had been gifted money by Greater Sydney Conference and the Victorian Conference to help our members in need.

We would like to solicit your prayers on behalf of the victims, in support of our firefighters and SES and especially, requesting God’s richest blessing upon the churches that have become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

The fires are still raging and spreading and we must continue to support those in need. We have here an opportunity to provide an act of kindness!  Thank you for your ministry and support for your community in the name of Christ.

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