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Beyond the Line of Fire

February 6, 2020 by

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Off and running

As Australia continues to battle widespread bushfires, support from around the world has flowed in, through donations, condolences, and prayers, and through personnel arriving to help. Thanks to everyone, for all of it!

Many have asked how we’re doing at Danthonia, a Bruderhof in northern New South Wales, about an eight hours’ drive from Sydney. Though it’s been extremely dry here for a very long time, we have not experienced any direct threat from fires. There have been many smoky days these past months, but the closest bushfire was in scrubland about twelve miles from us. It threatened some homes in our nearest town, Inverell, but thankfully the weather permitted firefighters to control the fire, and the damage to property was minimal.

The immense suffering across our country caused by the ongoing drought and mega-fires is of great concern to us. We’re doing our best to help out, even if only in small ways, to encourage our friends and neighbors, and to lend a hand where possible. Many of Danthonia’s men are trained bushfire fighters – “firies” – and volunteer with the Rural Fire Service. They are often called out to respond to fires in our area. Recently, we’ve had some thunderstorms, bringing much-needed rain, but also causing fires to flare up after lightning strikes.

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Tingha Plateau Fires

“It’s great to be able to support local friends and neighbors in practical ways. It’s the way we live in rural Australia – we help each other out no matter what.”

Like most rural Australian families, we all have family members in the local volunteer fire brigades, and during the bush fire season it becomes part of daily life to get called up to get a fire under control. Two of the young men who have been out often to fight local fires told me, “It’s risky work but it's so rewarding to know that you are directly helping people, saving lives and property,” and, “It’s great to be able to support local friends and neighbors in practical ways. It’s the way we live in rural Australia – we help each other out no matter what.”

In addition, we are partnered with Samaritan’s Purse, and have a chaplaincy team, Bill and Grace Wiser, as well as fire clean-up personnel on fire-affected grounds in the state of Victoria.

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Our back yard, November 2019

Every fire, no matter how small, has the potential to cause great damage. We are so grateful for the international strike teams, from America, Canada, and elsewhere, who have sacrificed their time to travel Down Under and help us. We are grieving the loss of three American fire-fighters who died in a plane crash while fighting Australian fires.

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Our back yard, February 2020

At Danthonia, we have been blessed with 156 mm (over 6 inches) of rain since January 1st. It may sound like a tiny amount, yet it’s half of what we received last year, and every drop is a celebration for this thirsty ground. It reminds us that prayers work much as rain does. Our pastures are responding with joy, and there are grass and lucerne, chicory and wildflowers springing up everywhere. 

But the fires continue to rage in the south, and the firies keep up their determined battle. If you want to donate to Australia’s fire-fighters, feel free to check out this reputable link. And please keep this beautiful, dry land in your prayers.

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About the author

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Norann Voll

Norann Voll lived in New York’s Hudson Valley until moving to the Danthonia Bruderhof in New South Wales, Australia in 2002...

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