Amid a crippling drought in New South Wales, Australia, the Archbishop of Sydney’s relief agency has launched an appeal to help affected communities. Archbishop Glenn Davies wants to provide resources through Anglican Aid for relief work in the north and west of the state in what is said to be the worst drought in the region since 1900.

Estimates say 99 percent of the state is under drought. The state government has launched a relief package to assist farmers. Emergency feed for livestock is reportedly being sold for $12,000 per truckload.

“The suddenness of this drought has caught many by surprise,” said the Rev. Brian Kirk, vicar general of the Diocese of Armidale. He has asked church people to pray for rain, for farming families, and businesses in rural communities, and that people will not lose faith in God because of the crisis.

Church members provide food and clothing vouchers, and give pastoral support. Churches are seeking volunteers to offer help with farm chores.

Funds from the Anglican Aid appeal will be channeled through the inland Anglican dioceses of Armidale and Bathurst, the most heavily drought-affected areas.

Archbishop Davies has offered this prayer for use by church people: “Our heavenly Father, we acknowledge our ingratitude when we have taken your goodness for granted, when the heaven has poured forth rain and the earth has produced its fruit. Yet now we cry to you for help, as the drought in New South Wales deepens. Have mercy on our land; have mercy on the people of the land. May your bountiful hand send forth rain upon our parched earth. Fulfill your promises that while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest shall not cease, so that those in remote and rural areas may find relief from their distress and glorify your name for the provision of their needs. We ask this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

John Martin