Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,
I just wanted to take a few moments to update you on what is happening during the flood crisis and Hope Empowered’s response to it.
I am typing this from the House of Nathan – our residential facility in Toowoomba for young women who are either pregnant or new mums. The house is temporarily vacant for at least another week or so.
I wanted to say thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. It has truly warmed my heart to hear of the many people sending well wishes and offering support.
The water rose so quickly that it just took everybody by surprise. I’ve talked to a number of people with stories of close calls and lucky escapes. People who managed to get out of the flood zone only by wading out of it when it was waist deep; kids being carried and held up above the water level. People watching the water rise in front of their house, only to see it abate just before reaching the floor level.
I had an appointment in the centre of Toowoomba, right in the flood zone at the time of the floods. The person cancelled just a couple of hours before we were due to meet. In hindsight, I’ve never appreciated a cancellation so much. There were a number of close calls and we are thankful for that, but unfortunately our organisation has been touched by more than just close calls.
We have a long standing relationship and partnership with Teen Challenge here in Toowoomba. On Monday afternoon, as the waters rushed down the Toowoomba range, it exploded through the house of Steve and Sandy Matthews and their 3 adult children. The children managed to escape as the house was filled by the raging floodwaters but Steve and Sandy were swept away and drowned. Steve and Sandy were Pastors and volunteers at Teen Challenge. I want to take a moment to express our heartfelt sadness and condolences to their family and those who knew them through their work at Teen Challenge as well as to all of the Teen Challenge staff and volunteers. Can I ask you to keep them all in your prayers in this time of great sorrow. It is a solemn reminder of the fragility of life and our need to make our life count for something eternal.
As an organisation, we can’t just sit by and watch the events unfold. At this stage, there are a number of things we can do to help those that have been affected by the floods:
- Check on the neighbours in your street. See if there is anything they need help with. You may think that no flood water came through your area, but it is very possible that the heavy rains caused localised flooding in their house or, as in the case of one of our Brisbane families, in their roof. We can be there to help clean up.
- Be in prayer for the situation. In particular, let’s be praying for missing people to be found alive; Emergency Service workers to be kept safe; our government and leaders (particularly Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Premier Anna Bligh, Lord Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman and Lord Mayor of Toowoomba Peter Taylor) to lead us through this tragic time effectively.
- Give financially. At this stage, this is the most practical way we can help. Money is the easiest to distribute and most versatile resource we can provide. We have the facility to collect funds directly for the Flood Appeal, through the Australian Taxation Office endorsed Hope Empowered Foundation. As such, all donations to the Flood Appeal through Hope Empowered Foundation will be tax deductible. All you need to do is contact the Hope Empowered office on (07) 3354 4500 and we can process your donation directly. your money in an envelope with your name on it so we can issue a receipt. We will then issue tax deductible receipts through the week.
- Volunteer your time to help. You can call Volunteering Queensland on 1800 994 100. They are co-ordinating volunteering efforts on the ground in flood affected areas.
In addition to these avenues, we are putting together teams in Brisbane and Toowoomba to help out with any works that may be required over the next few weeks in the clean-up and rebuilding effort. We’re building a central reference of resources that we can utilise and apportion to those who need it. If you have resources or if you are able to help for any time and in any way, please contact us at the Hope Empowered office on (07) 3354 4500.
If you have any need of help or maybe one of your neighbours do, I would also encourage you to contact us. We believe it is incumbent upon us to bring hope to situations that seem hopeless to many.
Over the last few days, I’m sure you’ve all been watching the coverage of the tragedy unfolding before us. Its scale and ferocity is without precedent in much of Queensland. It’s been strange to be in the middle of it here in Toowoomba. I’ve witnessed damage and loss that, at times, have made me just want to sit down and cry. Stories of many that have lost property, businesses, livelihoods and sadly, loved ones. But in the midst of all of this carnage, I am reminded that hope can prevail over all. I’m reminded that, we have the opportunity to serve our community through this. Not just with labour, but by bringing that hope and encouragement to everyone we meet. Hope shines its brightest in the midst of the darkest situations.
Let me challenge you. This is not the time to shrink back, but to actively look for ways of serving the people around you. Let’s make sure we’re looking out for one another and not just ourselves.
Thanks so much for your support and prayer. Let’s continue to pray that lives are protected over the coming days.