While deadly floodwaters in eastern Australia have receded and the clean-up continues in the wake of the tragedy, praying for affected communities is more important than ever, say Lutheran church leaders in some of the worst-hit areas.
At least 22 people have died as a result of the floods in south-east Queensland, including Brisbane, northern New South Wales and Sydney, while the cost of damage to homes and businesses was expected to be at least $2.5 billion, according to media reports.
Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate from their homes and at least two people died near Gympie, about 170 kilometres north of Brisbane. However, Pastor David Seligmann of Zion Lutheran Church there believes each of his members is safe and none has lost their homes, something he describes as ‘an amazing blessing’.
But, he says, some business owners are doing it tough due to flood damage. ‘It’s a weird encouragement for Christians to say, “Go and buy something you don’t need to support local business people”, but that’s something we can do’, he says.
Pastor David also says that, while phoning parishioners, he has discovered that other members have been phoning around checking to see that those in their faith family are okay. ‘At times I’ve had people say, “Pastor, you’re the fourth call I’ve had today”. And we’ve had people helping in other ways, with younger members going shopping for older members.
He encourages members of the LCANZ to keep praying for the people of Gympie and everyone affected by the floods.
‘Lots of prayer can never be overestimated. Praying is absolutely the most important thing people can do.’
Like Gympie, the town of Lismore in northern New South Wales has been one of the worst-hit by the disaster. But Good News Lutheran Church president Glenn Faulkner said thankfully none of the congregation’s approximately 30 regular members has suffered significant losses. The church property, too, which is located on higher ground at Lismore East, is unscathed, and Glenn said the congregation was keen to rent out the building for much-needed office space for the town.
‘We’re just so grateful [that our members are okay] – this flood was two metres higher than the highest ever’, Glenn said. ‘Everyone has gone and done their bit to help out. Yes, prayers would most certainly be appreciated.’
Members of the church are also invited to donate to help Lutherans and their communities (tax-deductible) via the LCA Disaster & Welfare Fund.