Australia (MNN) — Flooding of almost biblical proportions has struck Australia. According to reports, the flood waters have forced many from their homes. It's also mobilizing Christians.
Matt Gees is presenter and UCB newsman with our affiliate Vision Radio Network. MNN's Greg Yoder talked with him about the flooding.
Yoder: This flooding has been the worst in years, decades perhaps. Could you give us an update on the situation there?
Gees: "For 14 years it's been kind of a dry spell in Australia. But  is the third-wettest year on record. The second half of last year–according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology–was the wettest on record for the country of Australia. There has been a lot of flooding in Queensland, which is one of the largest states in Australia, area wise. Trying to put it in perspective, Queensland is about the size of France and Germany combined. Around 400,000 square-miles of the state is flooded, out of about 668,000 square-miles. We've had entire towns evacuated. Some areas are reporting four times the amount of average rainfall."
Yoder: How many people in all are affected?
Gees: "It's hard to tell for certain, Greg. But everyone in the region has been affected — home owners, business owners. It's a community situation."
Yoder: Let's talk about the response. Have people been able to reach out and help?
Gees: "There is a real volunteer spirit that runs through these communities. It's something that is uniquely Australian. As this emergency continues, emergency services are looking to make sure people are safe. They're constantly looking at flood levels, making sure they know where the flood waters are going next. There are entire townships that are on stand-by, waiting to hear if they have to leave their homes and evacuate. Our state premiere has said the damage from these floods is so extensive that it's even going to affect the international economy because Queensland provides [much of] the world's coal. 75 percent of Queensland's mines are currently not operating."
Yoder: When things like this happen, Christians seem to spring into action. How has the church responded?
Gees: "A lot of the churches who would be helping out are affected themselves. We've had reports from central Queensland, in areas that are completely affected, of churches that are completely flooded. But yet they're out there lending a helping hand in the community and making sure the volunteers are being looked after. The Salvation Army is part of the emergency response. They're feeding those who have been affected. Christian organizations are showing their practical ministry side of their Christian faith. They don't do it for any reward, but because God first loved them."
Yoder: In situations like this, many people tend to turn to Christ. Are you seeing this?
Gees: "I think a lot of people start questioning their faith. When natural disasters happen, you generally get one of two responses. You either get people who have been so devastated they're starting to look for direction in their life. And they have someone who can lead them to Christ. Then, you have other people who have lost everything and are looking for someone to blame and end up blaming God. It's the personal relationships that can be the most powerful evangelism tool ever."
Yoder: What about your broadcast outlets? Are they safe?
Gees: "That's something we're not quite sure of, Greg. With some of our broadcast points, we have no idea if its on the air or not because everyone's been evacuated. A lot of our stations are in rural and regional areas across the country."
Yoder: How can we pray for you?
Gees: "[Pray] that we can be a true witness of what's going on at the moment, that we can find a way to respond, and that we can continue looking out for our country-people and be a true and correct witness."
If you'd like to help Vision Radio Network, click here. If you'd like to support the Salvation Army's response to the flooding, click here.