As the residents of southern Queensland and northern NSW continue to battle devastating floods, Akos Balogh spoke to Stew Playsted, Lead Pastor of Southern Cross Presbyterian Church in Lismore.
TGCA: We’ve heard about the unprecedented flooding in Lismore. Could you give us a sense of what it’s like being there?
Many, many people in our city have lost everything … This flood surpassed all floods before it.
Many, many people in our city have lost everything. We are a flood town—everyone in this town knows that—but this one was different. People knew flood-prone areas would be affected as early as Saturday. Many businesses in the CBD were already packing up on Saturday afternoon, but no one expected what happened last Sunday night and early Monday morning. This flood surpassed all floods before it. People in areas of the town never affected by flood water found themselves walking from their homes early on Monday morning with nothing but a garage bag of goods—everything else was gone. I have heard it many times this week: “We have been here 26 years, 35 years and we have seen nothing like it.” Or, “Our home was built above the 1974 flood line; we just didn’t expect it.” People want to talk, they want to tell you their story, they want to share their heart.
TGCA: How has this affected your church?
Like never before our church family also has a number of people who lost everything. Today will be the first day they will be able to reenter their homes. Every day brings new grief, and today the reality of what people have lost will become apparent. Please pray for them today that they will not lose heart but they will know the compassion of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the deep love of the Father.
TGCA: How is your church responding to this crisis?
Many at SCPC have simply “dropped everything” to love people in their grief in this awful time. Each day simply “happens” as people respond lovingly to the needs surrounding them—and it has been beautiful to watch. Others would willingly drop what they are doing to help, but simply don’t know how. So our staff team has been trying to craft a flood response called “drop love”. We are aiming to use our premises in East Lismore to “drop love” to the surrounding areas. We had aimed to provide a hot meal Monday night (teas and coffees yesterday didn’t seem to meet a need).
One of the successes yesterday for our church family was cleaning homes of close friends and family, and then that spilling over to neighbouring properties. It was so encouraging to see a team of young adult men from our church family dropping in to bring love to properties across town—and then coming back to ask, “Where do we go now!?” They titled themselves SCPCSES!
TGCA: What can Christians around Australia be praying for your church, and for Lismore?
Pray that our vision to “drop love” would see the love of God push back the flood of grief, pain and despair.
Pray that our vision to “drop love” would see the love of God push back the flood of grief, pain and despair. God loves our town. Jesus shed his blood for it. As I walked around town early this morning I kept thinking about Jesus’ compassion for the lost. We desperately want our father God to move in people’s hearts that they might give up on their need to be strong, able, right, safe; and that in their weakness, brokenness, despair and sin they would turn to him and be flooded with the gift of the Holy Spirit to become new creations, washed completely and entirely clean.
- Please pray that those still trapped in flood waters or flood-affected homes or properties would be saved.
- Please pray for each new day as it continues to bring a flood of trauma and despair. Pray that our church family would be guided to where the needs are.
- Please pray for supernatural energy and wisdom. We just don’t how long people can survive with this type of hardship. Adrenaline only lasts so long.
- Please pray for calm for our church family—particularly for our leaders that we might be a solid place in this devastating flood.
- Please pray for our church family to provide their neighbours and friends the gift of listening. We don’t need to drown them with our stories of hardship. We can flood our Father with tears and prayers.
- Please pray for our coming Sunday as we aim to gather for the teaching of God’s word, and then mobilise to serve our city dropping love.
TGCA: Are there any practical ways that Christians around Australia can help?
Please consider giving to our SCPC flood response “Drop love” by dropping some funds into this account:
BSB: 062 674
Account Number: 2800 9498
Account Name: Southern Cross Presbyterian Church
Remitter description: droplove