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Pray for rain, says rural chaplain

Pray for rain, says rural chaplain

Pray for rain, says rural chaplain

14 August 2019

Western NSW farmer Rebel and her children stand in front of the water tanks that were supplied to her farm through a generous donation to The Salvation Army.

By Lauren Martin

With Australia experiencing some of its warmest and driest conditions on record*, Salvation Army rural chaplains are urging Salvationists to keep praying for rain.

Major David Pullen, Salvation Army Far West NSW rural chaplain, said most farmers he talks to say the current drought is the worse they’ve experienced, and the forecast is for no significant rainfall for the rest of this year.

“Seeing the heartbreak of families is the hardest thing,” David said. “Out here in the far west of NSW they have felt quite abandoned really. In many ways, The Salvation Army is one of the very few [organisations] that would be visiting. The Salvation Army’s presence is quite remarkably poignant I think for the people here.

“We do life with people. We just visit people on their properties and do life with them. Whether that’s going out and looking at their fences or doing the water runs with them or just sitting with our feet under their kitchen table having a cup of tea with them talking about whatever their life might bring.”

Whenever they visit, David and his wife Robin bring a fresh loaf of bread and fresh milk – a luxury for families living on remote and isolated properties. The financial assistance they can offer is minimal, just some help with household expenses, “because most of their money is being put back into the property to keep it running”.

A generous donor recently partnered with The Salvation Army to supply farming families with water infrastructure. For sheep farmer Rebel Bell from Menindee, it’s been a huge blessing to be able to install water tanks on her property.

“We live on the Darling River and it has been going dry, so we use rainwater here a lot,” she said. “We used to be able to put sheep down alongside the river but now, with the river drying up so badly, we can’t, because they can actually walk across to the other side where it’s national park.”

Rebel lives with her husband and their three children, who all do School of the Air from home. They live 130km from the nearest major town and 270km from the regional centre where they travel every few weeks to buy groceries and do other errands. Living in such isolation is the norm for families living on the land in Far West NSW.

The lack of rain, coupled with the river drying up, led them to using bore water, and pumps to get whatever stagnant water was still available in the river. The family was then able to use this water to flush toilets and run through their air conditioner, however, Rebel says its quality became so poor that they had to stop using it. “It was clogging up the air conditioner and the smell – the smell was just putrid. As you can imagine, it had dead fish in there because the water is just stagnant.”

They made a decision to order more rainwater tanks to become more sustainable. But the cost was significant. When David phoned and told her that The Salvation Army would be able to cover the cost of the tanks as a result of a generous donation, Rebel burst into tears. “I never realised how much the Salvos can help out,” she says. “I was gob-smacked. It was just, it was really, really good.”

David and Robin said farmers needed more Australians to be generous in order to get our farmers through this drought. “I think prayer for rain is the most critical need,” David said.

* Figures from the Bureau of Meteorology:




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