Our Bushfire Responses

from Chris Cohen - March 2009


Dear Friends,

As I write this we are in the immediate aftermath of the terrible fires that have devastated Victoria. For so many the loss of loved ones, homes, property and security of their communities has been traumatic.

I was contacted by the Victorian Council of Churches Disaster Plan office to co-ordinate a counselling team to be available to the fire victims. This was established in the West Gippsland Art Centre, made up of clergy and lay, some of whom were trained counsellors.

The primary task of this team has been to listen to people’s stories of the fire’s effect upon them and help them to express their feelings and be assured that these wide range of feelings is okay. We have established a team of UCA clergy that are visiting the Labertouche and Drouin West fire effected people on their properties.

The task of rebuilding properties will take time, energy, money and continued goodwill. The rebuilding of lives will take goodwill, loving support and a willingness to travel alongside people as they claim some of their life back. Many of us have already been involved in various ways.

Questions will arise about what people need versus what people deserve.

Our response, in words and deeds should be motivated by compassion and grace.

Our prayers, our words and our actions will inform people about the nature of the God we worship and proclaim. This will be a long process, one that will extend well beyond the present focus and interest. I pray that we, the church and wider community, may have the endurance to see the task through to its completion.

Yours in Christ, Chris