“The refuge was very hot, it was very smoky, and there was no power. It’s nighttime – or at least the sun should have been rising, but it looked like nighttime … At one stage a number of us heard dull thud explosions in the distance. They were gas bottles – houses – so symbolising another house had just gone up. So we knew that the fire was in town.”
The whole world has been watching this summer as Australia burned. In total, the area burned out is almost the size of England. The loss of life, property, and wilderness has been devastating.
In this episode of Life & Faith, we give space to a few voices – the voices of ordinary people who’ve found themselves caught up in this crisis in some way, either voluntarily, or less so – in order to give some sense of how things have played out for a few individuals and communities. Air Force chaplain Michelle Philp, RFS volunteer Benjamin North, and Chris Mulherin – who lives in Melbourne but spends a couple of weeks after Christmas every year in Mallacoota, the epicentre of one of big fires – share their stories.
We hear about a concentration camp survivor who found, in the crisis, a way to overcome his fear of people in uniform. We hear of people responding with anger towards God – and of what happens when you make a bargain with God to save your house … and he comes through. Koalas also get a mention.
“One of the verses I’ve been reflecting on a lot is the verse where Jesus says, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. And that’s been my prayer for the people of the Adelaide Hills – that they will come to find rest in Jesus in amongst all their burdens and weariness, as they’re dealing with the bushfires.”
If you want to donate to the recovery effort after the bushfires, a useful list of ways you can help is available here.