Above: Joe Spora at home on his property in Curban, NSW. Photo: Richard Hamwi
Australia’s big charities have had a lot of media attention during the drought, but there are many smaller, Christian-based organisations doing vital work too, that would love your support.
If you’re keen to send a lifeline to those suffering, why not consider giving, praying or volunteering for some of these causes:
Scripture Union NSW – Give Hope to Drought-Affected Families
Scripture Union NSW (SU NSW) is an international Christian organisation that works to spread the hope of the gospel. In Australia they’re well-known for their “beach missions” – but they also work year-round through youth camps and Christian lunchtime groups (ISCF groups and SUPA clubs) in schools.
You may have heard of their Kids to Camp appeal – helping drought-affected kids and youth to get to youth camps, where they can hear hope of the Gospel, see God’s love in action, and make new friendships that could last a lifetime. But there are other ways to support their work too. Donations to their Give Hope to Drought-Affected Families Appeal will allow SU to continue making sure these camps are well-resourced in the following ways:
1 – Supporting SU’s Volunteer Leaders
Many volunteer camp leaders make great sacrifices for their ministry work, so this is a powerful way to make a difference. “This is a deeply felt blessing,” said Andrew Parkinson, SU regional worker. “For example, I just heard of one volunteer leader from West Wyalong in rural NSW, who has been leading on our Cricket Camp in Dubbo for years—but who just couldn’t afford to go this year. We were able to help him out, which meant the camp had more capacity to receive more kids.”
2 – Helping Regional Workers Travel to Remote Areas
All year round, SU NSW’s small staff team travels hundreds of kilometres around the state to recruit, motivate, train, equip and support hundreds of volunteers. It’s not unusual to hear comments like, “I can’t believe you come out all the way here to see me!” As SU NSW interim director Glenn Coombs explained, “With greater funding, we could connect volunteers with resources in a far greater capacity.”
3 – Developing Ministry Resources
SU NSW is constantly working to develop fresh, relevant, Biblically-based resources to teach God’s word. “This makes all the difference to struggling, remote communities with limited resources,” said Glenn.
All donations to SU’s Give Hope to Drought-Affected Families Appeal appeal will be distributed to these three areas in 2020, supporting their work in drought-affected communities around the state. SU also welcomes new volunteers for their camps and school scripture groups, as well as people who want to pray for their work.
Western Air Care – “Bless the Bush” Appeal
One of the many Christian relief organisations at work in the drought is Western Air Care – a farmer’s relief charity founded by David Jackson, a pastor with the Australian Christian Churches.
In 2014 David and his wife started out simply carting some hay on their Mack truck to a handful of farmers. Five years later, their initiative has grown into a registered charity, and so far it’s delivered over $500,000 worth of hay, groceries and other practical support, as well as life-saving emotional and spiritual support, to remote and regional areas.
Western Air Care works with a team of dedicated volunteers, all with strong connections to rural Australia, and people suffering needs such as sickness, disability or extreme hardship, are referred to them by rural financial counsellors and other partner organisations.
“If God looks like a bale of hay, I’m quite happy to take Him out there, because it’s meeting the need.” ~ Dave Jackson
David, who has sadly conducted many funerals of farmers who “couldn’t make it”, said their work shows God’s love in action in very practical ways.
“The idea …is just to bring Christ to these people,” he said. “If God looks like a bale of hay, I’m quite happy to take Him out there, because it’s meeting the need. Some of the highlights are seeing people come back from the brink of suicide… we’ve seen some good things happen in peoples’ lives. They love the groceries, they love the hay for the cattle. That someone’s thinking of them, is what really grabs them.”
All donations to Western Air Care are tax deductible and are used to purchase and deliver feed and food vouchers. To enquire about volunteering with Western Air Care, contact the organization directly through their website.
Salvation Army – Rural Chaplains
The Salvation Army is an internationally trusted Christian welfare agency, based in the Salvation Army Church – known around the world for its work assisting people in need. The Salvos’ Rural Chaplains have been active throughout the drought, helping farmers and rural workers who are doing it tough. Funds raised for the chaplains will go towards emergency assistance, farming supplies, bills, household needs, as emotional and spiritual support.
Anglican Aid NSW Drought Appeal
Anglican Aid NSW is the charitable arm of the Anglican Church, and last year the Archbishop of Sydney launched the Anglican Aid Drought Relief Appeal. This appeal helps families with stock feed, water for tanks, vouchers, visitation, community dinners, free labour and more, distributed through rural churches. “The funds provide connection to Christians who care enough to get involved in peoples’ lives,” say organisers. “Yes, the money helps. But the connection lasts much longer.”
Vinnies NSW & ACT Drought Appeals
The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia, or ‘Vinnnies’, is a welfare agency of the Catholic Church with over 60,000 members and volunteers helping people in need across Australia. Its NSW and ACT Drought Appeals are helping support farmers with food and emergency bills assistance, health-focussed community events, stock feed and more.
Make a Spiritual Impact: Pray!
In the words of Pastor David Jackson, head of the rural aid ministry Western Air Care, “prayer is our greatest weapon”. He’d love to see “every church praying for our farmers, that every day they could get up and face the drought, that they’d have strength wisdom and understanding to keep going.”
Pray for those suffering, for the support organisations working to help those in need, and for rain to break the drought.
Wear a ‘Pray for Rain’ T-Shirt!
To make a statement and encourage others to pray, while also supporting a great cause, you might even like to purchase a “Pray for Rain” t-shirt from the charity Drought Angels.
Follow a 31-Day Prayer Guide
You may find inspiration in the 31-day Prayer for Rain campaign by Christian prayer and lobby group The Canberra Declaration. Their 31 daily prayer emails will guide you in pray for both physical rain and spiritual renewal across Australia. Head to the Prayer for Rain page on their website to sign up to the daily prayer journey, or explore the 31 devotions.