Australian response to the bushfire crisis
photos source: ABC
Statement from the board of A Rocha Australia regarding the Australian bushfire crisis
10 January 2020
The board of A Rocha Australia is terribly saddened by the unprecedented bushfire emergency. It has been shocking to watch and live through, and drives us to prayer and lament.
Yet we continue in the hope we have in Christ, knowing that God is reconciling all things to Himself (Col 1:20), committed to using and caring for His Creation (Gen 2:15), and awaiting the renewal of His heavens and earth at Jesus’ return.
The fires are reported to have burned more 10.7 million hectares (24 million acres) across six states, killed at least 25 people, and destroyed an estimated 2000 homes.
The devastation is continuing. More extremely hot weather and gusting winds are predicted before summer’s end. The fires will further devastate communities and ecosystems before the rains come.
Conservation scientists estimate more than one billion native animals have been killed by the fires. They expect these will push some threatened species to extinction.
The fires have released hundreds of millions of tons of carbon emissions as entire forests burn. This will further worsen the climate emergency that is making our normal Australian cycle of droughts-and-bushfires even more extreme.
All of our board directors have experienced the impacts of the fires. Some live in areas experiencing extreme or catastrophic fires, ready to flee their homes. All have wilted through extremely hot temperatures. We have all been breathing hazardous smoke haze. Some are helping evacuees from the firegrounds, or trying to help wildlife rescue organisations.
In general, A Rocha Australia is growing partnerships with Christian organisations, a private land conservation business run by believers, and secular conservation organisations. So we are looking for opportunities to walk together with these partners, and many others in the years ahead, in doing Creation care projects to help the recovery of our precious forests, wildlife and communities.
We are also pausing in prayer and reflection, to meditate on gospel truths, and to bear with others amidst our grief. And, we are worshipping the Lord through Creation care mission as we seek to be salt and light, in our own small way, to people who are in shock, angry and despairing at the fires.
In particular we are looking for opportunities to engage Australian Churches to see this disaster through a scriptural lens, and in repentance and obedience, rather than simply as a political issue. This is a challenge for Christians and churches in a nation where climate and environmental politics are polarised, often being based upon ideology rather than science, the Scriptures and the new climate reality.