Thank you all for your concern and prayers surrounding the fire situation here in Australia. The death toll from the fires is now at 210. The majority of the original fires are now out however some more have started. One of the new fires poses a serious threat as is getting into a populated area on the edge of Melbourne. Please pray that the remainder of the fires would be put out quickly and that there would be no further damage caused to towns and homes.
The disaster has brought out the best in so many people. The generosity expressed by individuals, organizations, companies and governments in Australia and around the world towards the victims of this disaster has been amazing. Organizations have been running all sorts of fund raisers, some businesses have been working for free to help survivors at great cost to themselves, some companies donated a whole days profit from all their stores around the country and even communities from Queensland who have been suffering a natural disaster of their own in the form of bad flooding have been sending donations. Some charities have even had to ask people to stop bringing goods in because they are overloaded with more than they can give out. It is wonderful that the material needs of those who survived can be well looked after as a result of peoples generosity.
Unfortunately the fires also brought out the worst in people. There has been issues with hate groups setup online against people alleged to have started the fires. Some have gone as far as to provide publicly the names and addresses of suspects and to make graphic threats of violence against the suspects. While it is understandable that people are upset that someone would deliberately light a fire they knew would probably turn fatal, this behavior is not at all helpful or healthy for anyone and also risks prejudicing the criminal investigations. There has also been a number of Christians who have also behaved badly in response to this tragedy. A few groups from Australia and overseas have made public pronouncements that the fires were God's judgment on the state for passing less restrictive abortion laws and other sins they say have been going on. One group was even threatening to picket memorial services but thankfully that hasn't seemed to have eventuated. It is really bad theology and very insensitive. It would likely be very upsetting for those who have suffered in these fires. It also badly damages the reputation of Christians, the great majority of whom do not agree with them at all and have been fundrasing and praying for the victims.
For those of you who are praying, as I previously mentioned please pray about the fires that continue. Also please pray for the emotional healing for those involved. Many victims and emergency services personnel have seen things and experienced things no one should ever have to. So many have experienced loss on an incomprehensible scale. Conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder are a risk. Please pray for comfort and healing for all those who have been traumatized by these events. Also pray for the counselors and chaplains that will be assisting people through these difficult times.