As Australia’s bushfire crisis continues, here’s an update on how Adventists have been impacted and what the Church is doing to support fire-impacted communities.
Cobargo the worst affected in NSW
Cobargo, in south-east New South Wales, has been the worst affected area in the state, with the township engulfed by fire. Seven Adventist families lost their homes, properties and businesses. The house that Cobargo church company—a total of 15 members including children—used to meet in has also been destroyed.
“The house we used to worship in is completely gone,” said Dragan Kanazir. “Homes have been lost from Wandella to as far north as Batemans Bay.”
South New South Wales (SNSW) Conference Aboriginal & Torres Straigh Islander Ministries (ATSIM) coordinator Julie Nagle has been in the field helping local tracking teams, visiting evacuation centers and helping Aboriginal communities affected by the fires. Nagle reported one member of Cobargo church company hasn’t been able to face returning to his property after losing his home and all memories of his late wife in the fires. His 92-year-old brother also died yesterday. The church are praying for him and supporting him at this difficult time.
To help support the community, Bega Seventh-day Adventist Church opened their doors as an evacuation center, accommodating more than 35 people and 15 dogs. The church hall was also used for food storage.
“When we noticed that the evacuation center over the road was becoming overloaded we made the quick decision to open the church and allow people to use the facilities,” Kanazir said, “At one stage our church looked like Noah’s ark!”
“Other evacuation centers didn’t take pets,” added Sarina Taituave, director for the SNSW Adventist Development and Relief (ADRA) offices. “We’re anticipating that there will still be people at Bega church for most of this week, but they’re reassessing at midday today.”