It has often been observed that in times of hardship the true essence of community and humanity is revealed.
In the aftermath of the Cudlee Creek bushfire in the Adelaide Hills, Birdwood Lutheran Church Pastor David Kuss describes life on the fire-ground as full of unexpected blessings.
“People are working together more closely than ever before,” he says.
“People are sharing whatever they have with people they do not know, new neighbours and friends have been discovered, and communities are becoming stronger as each and every person becomes interdependent to survive a collective trauma.”
In an effort to help bring the community together, the Lutheran Shed Men of Birdwood, Springhead and Woodside organised a recent men’s gathering and meal. All of the eighty attendees were men from the fire-ground.
“The idea was to create a space where men could gather and talk,” says Pastor David.
“Our keynote speaker was Mac Hayes, a mental health professional and former shearer, who could connect with the country blokes very well. I sensed, by the depth of questions, that Mac was well received and appreciated.”
Pastor David says the generosity towards those who have been affected by the fires has been keenly felt, with donations of food, goods and feed for stock very gratefully received.
“Two days after the fire, when stock are burned and parched, two semi-trailer loads of hay appeared literally at our doorstep from the people of Freeling. A day or so later truckloads of food and goods arrived from Lutheran Community Care. There are countless stories such as this.”
Pastor David says that people on the fire-ground have welcomed help from the local churches, with thousands of meals donated by South Australians distributed by the Onkaparinga Parish.
Of course, there is still pain and grief to be worked through.
“To stand with a farmer holding a rifle after he has shot all his sheep does take a toll,” says Pastor David.
“The good news is that this fire has brought out those you can trust and receive help from. We suffer together just as we support each other. I believe we have a window of what Jesus went through as he suffers together with his people.”
A special report on the South Australian bushfires will be published in the March Together magazine. Please continue to keep these communities in your prayers.