Out of disaster in Australia: a new sense of community

A Christian Science perspective.

While country towns in Australia are widely recognized for their sense of community, the suburbanized cities struggle at times to have citizens remain in touch with one another. Neighbors often don’t know neighbors. Most of the time people just go about their own business.

In Brisbane, Queensland, where a devastating flood has left this city of more than 2 million people shocked and on its knees, something extraordinary is taking place. Out of overwhelming heartbreak and loss, a new sense of community is emerging. You can see it happening.

In the aftermath of the flood, thousands of citizens from every walk of life are helping one another. Politicians, sports stars, and strangers of all ages are turning up with shovels, brooms, and mops to help with the cleanup of more than 20,000 inundated homes and businesses.

Across Australia’s third-largest city, residents have stopped asking what they can do to help and have moved into action. They are doing anything and everything to clean away the contaminated, silt-laden floodwater from homes, buildings, roads, and paths. The outpouring of this roll-up-your-sleeves-and-prepare-to-get-dirty assistance is inspiring.

Evacuation centers staffed by volunteers from the Red Cross and community and church organizations are feeding, clothing, rehousing, families and individuals who have lost everything. This love and care for one’s neighbor is bringing a sense of Christly comfort and hope to all who walk through these centers’ welcoming doors.

So what is it that stirs hearts and moves individuals to pitch in and lend a hand? I believe it is the Christ – God’s voice, speaking to each individual in whatever way he or she can understand. This message of good is constantly at work, inspiring people with good ideas and the desire to benefit others. This Christly intuition is what urges individuals to be loving and kind to others, to be good and to do good. Christliness is a natural inclination. What’s more, it’s within each of us. I feel that’s why so many are heeding and following this divine prompting right now on Brisbane streets.

God’s love for humanity is the motivator that has stirred people to get out into the community and show love for those who have been hit hard by flooding.

Christly love comes from God, who is divine Love itself, and it is visible on every flood-ravaged street. This love of God is not a vague, abstract thing. God’s love is manifested in concrete, practical ways. A family member of mine who found his home spared in the flood immediately began helping others to clean up. One man offered his home and electricity so that people without homes could come and recharge their phones – such a blessing when you have no home left. A young boy who only knew five songs on his guitar performed on his street and raised over $1,000 for people in need. Such outpourings of generosity and unselfish assistance are spiritually motivated. They are evidence of God’s love.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, shared this insight into God’s community-binding nature when she wrote, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494). It’s true. No matter how dire the situations are that confront a community, or what the personal needs might be, God’s love ensures that an answer is at hand. Every need is met through His grace. This has been my experience. Divine Love has never forgotten or deserted me in my hour of need. That same loving care is on hand for every single flood-damaged householder and business owner.

Community spirit, people rising up from devastation and pulling together to work as one, is a sign of divine Love at work, binding up broken hearts and leading to restoration. Community in action also fulfils this Scripture: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). That’s why in times of disaster, the love of God and the spirit of the Christ will ensure that every community that responds with heartfelt love and care will emerge stronger and united.

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