We have been facing a traumatic situation across our very dry nation at this time. For a number of weeks now we have had significant bushfires burning across our land. We are in the height of our fire season and have had days of very high temperatures coupled with strong winds which is bringing catastrophic consequences.
Countless homes and buildings have been lost, some lives, lots of animals and multitudes of people have required to be evacuated. The news bulletins seem to keep telling us new locations that may be potentially impacted. Horrific images of blood red skies, thick smoke and devastation fill our news feeds. Those of us who are still in the safety and comfort of our homes are left wondering how we can help those who are in the heart of this disaster.
I have been a part of The Salvation Army for my whole life and I well remember the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday fires, but also the overflow of generosity from members of the public, all wanting to do something to help. Multiple warehouses and individuals needed to be pressed into service to store, sort and deliver the physical goods for many, many months after the tragedy was experienced and almost forgotten.
While this is awesome in theory, the difficulty that is faced is that the best resource to receive at times like this is money. Cold, hard cash requires no storage or transportation infrastructure, can be immediately accessed and distributed, and can help to stimulate the local economy that is facing a bleak future. It means that people who are already reeling from their situation are given the opportunity to purchase things that they need, rather than what others have decided they might need.
What I have noticed for this current fire disaster is that almost all of the major charitable organisations are asking that people choose to donate finances, and in fact, are saying that they will not be taking donations of material goods of any kind. Due to this, there are a number of other agencies who have chosen to step into the breach, and after only a few days (literally only 48 hours) they are now saying that no more ‘stuff’ is needed.
This has caused me to reflect on why we want to give so generously at times such as this, and I wonder if it is to combat our feeling of helplessness in the face of such tragedy. We have had countless celebrities and overseas personalities who have now pledged significant amounts to the various appeals being run. And yet there seems to still be a desire to donate ‘stuff’ rather than cash. Is it because donating physical things feel more like an action than simply transferring money?
I pray it is not about wanting to be seen doing something and bringing notice to ourselves. A verse from my devotional reading today was from Matthew chapter 5 verse 16 says “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Our good deeds should not be about bringing glory and recognition to us, but to our Father God. Our motive needs to be pure and selfless, especially in these tragic times, because it’s not about us.
So at this time of serious, desperate need, please consider making a financial contribution to The Salvation Army’s Disaster Appeal, or to the Red Cross Appeal or to any of the other Australian Bushfire Appeals that are running at this time. Your gift will mean so much to those who are facing some of the worst moments of their lives.
And please, pray for rain for our dry land.
Glad to see your funding appeal and explanation for it.
I suspect that some reluctance to donate funds comes from suspicion they will be misused or too little applied to the actual need instead of to administrative bloat and waste. It is a common complaint and unreasonable reasoning.
To those suffering this fear, if even just one is reading, I would say it is a misplaced fear when using reliable services known for their effectiveness, like the ones you mention. I trust the Salvation Army and Red Cross. I trust the efforts of Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and so many others not in it merely for the glory, but for their country.
Besides, some possible waste along the way does not mean the unwasted portion will do no good, when the present need is so great that it’s no time to argue about humanitarian aid efficiency! And your point is well taken that donors likely don’t know what material assistance is actually needed from one place to another. I certainly don’t know.
You’ll know the source better than I, but I vaguely recall scripture saying something about not letting the left hand know what the right is doing in charity; i.e., in love. Just give. Just love.
I know people here in the US who are literally crying in pain for you, your forests, your wildlife, and crying in shame for our horrid failures regarding climate change action. It is an incomprehensible tragedy that so many don’t realize — or that they deny — that we are ALL burning, that humanity does not end at the shores of Australia.
Thank you for your thoughts on our current situation. I can sense your genuine emotion about the tragedy that is unfolding in our country.
I agree with your sentiments about reticence to donate, and feel privileged to be a part of a highly trusted charitable church. We treat the public’s faith in us so carefully because we know it’s value and I am proud of the contingencies we put in place to ensure that money given for a specific purpose is only spent on that specific purpose. Only this morning we were warned on the news about a number of scams operating as some unscrupulous people see an opportunity to flaunt the desire from the community to be generous.
You recall correctly about Jesus’ teaching on giving quietly, again because it is not meant to be about us in the giving, but about our love and compassion for the ones needing the gift.
We have had a sprinkling of rain here in the past 24 hours, nowhere near enough, but it brought an opportunity to take a breath and see some hope.