The LCA Queensland District has launched a relief appeal for individuals and communities devastated by Cyclone Debbie and the flooding in her aftermath.
In the wake of the natural disaster, the District has urged church members to pray for those affected, donate towards helping those who have lost homes and possessions, and to help neighbours and community organisations with the clean-up.
Members of the Cannonvale and Mackay congregations hunkered down for long hours as the monster storm made landfall at Airlie Beach, the gateway to Queensland’s Whitsunday tourist region. The cyclone’s eye passed directly over Cannonvale, which is only a few minutes drive west of Airlie Beach.
‘Afterwards, the scene behind the Cannonvale church looked like a Canadian winter’, Pastor Mark Gierus said. ‘The trees were stripped bare.’
‘We knew God was with us and all we could do was trust him’, his wife Janine said. ‘It was eerie before the cyclone hit and then extremely loud. The wind was incredible.
‘When we drove up to Airlie Beach afterwards we were in tears because the destruction is huge. There’s barely a leaf on a tree there. It’s so sad.’
The parish members fared well overall, are in good spirits and are ‘thankful’.
‘Our members in Cannonvale have been nearly two weeks without power and are still smiling’, Pastor Gierus said.
The Sunday after the storm the congregations of Cannonvale and Mackay gave thanks to God for his mercy, and prayed for the emergency workers and the leaders of Queensland.
‘Mark preached on thankfulness and faith in God’s protection and how God renews out of devastation and hopelessness’, Janine said.
Congregation members are reaching out to others. ‘It’s happening constantly’, said Pastor Gierus. ‘Their generosity is inspiring.’ He added that the best ways to support people suffering in the aftermath of the cyclone are through prayer and by phone calls or emails expressing care and encouragement. ‘We have seen God’s presence everywhere. To have no loss of life up here, and damage that is in most cases repairable, is such a blessing.
‘We’re also seen through this how closely our two congregations are connected and the importance of working with other churches in our community. As a team we can help each other during these difficult times.’
In South-East Queensland it wasn’t the ferocious wind but the flooding that caused the destruction and heartache. Members of St Mark’s congregation at Mt Gravatt are organising Easter Baskets of Hope to be distributed through the Beenleigh congregation. Beenleigh, south of Brisbane in the Logan region, was one of the communities hardest hit by the flooding.
Pastor Peter Hage of Mt Gravatt said, ‘While members at St Mark’s were not directly affected by the cyclone and flood, we recognise that many people have not been as fortunate as we have been.
‘As an expression of our concern for these suffering people, we are inviting members of our congregation to donate non-perishable items or a monetary gift. Pastor David Haak and the Beenleigh members will distribute these gifts at their discretion.’
The Baskets of Hope contain essential food supplies, toiletries and a Bible verse pointing people to the Giver of all gifts, an especially meaningful message at Easter.
If you would like to donate to the LCAQD Disaster Relief Fund, go to http://www.qld.lca.org.au/disaster-assistance.html