Close to the geographical heart of NSW, in Lake Cargelligo, the Rev Paul Kumasaka has watched the cycle of drought, good seasons and drought numerous times over his 23 years in his Riverina parish. This drought has lasted for perhaps three years; a previous drought lasted for a decade.
What is the situation now?
After about 40mm of rain, he says, going from “zero” moisture in the ground to some is very promising. Farm dams are almost full and farmers are hopeful, but virtually no grain has been harvested for two seasons. It’s crucial for there to be more rain within the month, but that’s not all.
"It's crucial for there to be more rain within the month"
“It’s really a day-to-day game,” he explains. “The biggest challenge is the upcoming sowing season for the wheat, barley and oats, because the crops need to go in around May. That means that farm paddocks have got to be ready for sowing by then, with enough moisture in them, and of course there will have to be some seed. Tilling paddocks is also a costly thing. So, the big challenges are coming for them.
“Pray for us continuously, that we will do the best we can to help the farmers and the local businesses – the small retailers who are quite seriously affected. Shops are closing, one by one, and that forces us more and more to go to the major towns and the nearest one is Griffith, which is 133 kilometres away.”
How should we be praying for this community?
Archdeacon Yager asks people to pray for resilience and support in community, for follow-up rain, and also to “give thanks that we’ve got this far, and it’s a blessing for the rain we have received”. In Narrabri, Dr Gabbott says there is “incredible thankfulness to God among his people for this rain. It is a wonderful answer to constant and persistent prayer… We continue to ask for his grace and kindness, especially on those who have missed out and continue to labour under dry weather”.
Mr Langmead says local churches and Christians have “an incredible opportunity to speak into this situation with the words of the gospel… we know how the story finishes and that’s that God’s got it sorted, even if the rains don’t come, and that’s an incredible perspective.
“My regular prayer as church has been that, as the rain comes down, the prayers of farmers and people in rural communities will go up to their Father in heaven and give him thanks for the good things he’s done. That people will look up and remember where it comes from and consider what it means to genuinely express gratitude – not just with a prayer but with a whole life given back to him.”
"give him thanks for good things he's done"
Anglican Aid is still collecting and distributing money to those in ongoing need as a result of the drought. Since August 2018 the organisation has sent out $457,000, mainly through parishes in the Armidale and Bathurst dioceses, but also to Riverina, Grafton, Canberra-Goulburn and Maranoa Warrego in Queensland. See [url=http://www.anglicanaid.com.au]http://www.anglicanaid.com.au[/url] to donate, or see [url=http://www.anglicare.org.au/gowithout]http://www.anglicare.org.au/gowithout[/url] for Anglicare’s drought relief initiatives.