Australia  |  

‘I’m begging you ... please pray for rain.’

From her seat in a crowded hall on the Gold Coast, Skye Agar fills out a response form. She’s at a series of talks called ‘Masterclass’, run by Bible Society to encourage Christian high school students to continue in the faith and help them with some of the big issues they face at school.

Advertisement

But Skye has a bigger issue than those you might find at school. She can’t get it off her mind. In a few weeks time, she’ll travel 1000 kilometres and over 12 hours back home to her family’s property in Wyandra, in outback south west Queensland. And she knows what she’ll find there: drought.

Overcome with emotion, Skye writes a heartfelt plea on the back of the response form, hoping someone – anyone –  might read it. It’s a plea for prayer.

“It’s heartbreaking to see your animals starving. And all your work just disappearing.”

“G’day, my name is Skye. I am writing to ask you to pray for rain. We farmers and graziers are in desperate need of rain,” she wrote.

“We have been in drought for six years and we are struggling very badly. We don’t usually ask for help much, but as a grazier’s daughter – my family have sheep and cattle – and seeing my parents suffer every day, seeing their livestock die from hunger is very depressing.”

“I’m begging you, please pray.”

Skye (in blue) with her dad and sister having dinner while out working on Barbara Plains.

Skye (in blue) with her dad and sister having dinner while out working on Barbara Plains. Tricia Agar

Back at the Bible Society offices, someone read Skye’s note and decided more people need to hear her story.

When I speak to Skye, she’s back at her boarding school in Toowoomba. She’s been there for five years, and at age 17, this year will be her last. She’s thinking of becoming a hairdresser. But what she’d really like to do is to have a property of her own. “I like sheep,” she says.

She’s grateful for her time at boarding school. In a way, she says, it’s shielded her from a lot of the struggles her family has gone through. The last good rain that fell on the family’s property, called Barbara Plains, was in 2012. No rain changes everything.

“It’s heartbreaking to see your animals starving,” she says. “And all your work just disappearing.”

Skye’s mum, Tricia, knows how hard Skye works around the property when she’s home. All three of her daughters put in the hard yards to help out and always have.

Skye's life is "marked by drought", says her mum.

Skye’s life is “marked by drought”, says her mum. Tricia Agar

“Any kid that’s raised in the bush, their lives have been marked by drought,” Tricia says. “Skye’s been very marked by drought. Her life really centres around it. She doesn’t come home for school holidays to kick around and do nothing. She’s got to work. She’s straight up and straight out on the property. And that’s not just her, that’s most kids in the bush.”

Tricia has opened a pop-up shop called ‘Bush Kids’ to promote life in the bush. Her Facebook page has over 43,000 followers. Her own children have been helping on the property for as long as she can remember

“Mustering, fencing, branding, drafting, weaning. I do a bit of this, bit of that,” says Skye. “The jobs change a lot in drought. We’re feeding the animals by hand. Chopping down trees to feed to the livestock.”

“The weather keeps you very grounded. It keeps you very humble indeed. And you just have to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, because goodness gracious you could soon go AWOL in this country if you don’t!”

Skye says her dad “cops it the most”, out there all day every day on the land, having to see the very worst of the weather’s impact on the animals he’s doing everything in his power to protect.

“I’m trying to find the words to describe it for you, but sometimes there just are no words,” says Skye.

The 89,000 acre property that is Barbara Plains is “a sight to behold” when there’s been rain, says Skye. “It really is beautiful.” She likes to spend time in the house paddock, where a blanket of little flowers pop up after the rain. But that hasn’t happened in a long time.

“It’s dust and dirt now,” says Skye.

The most difficult in drought are “seeing the livestock so thin, the ground so bare and the sky just so blue. The sky needs to have clouds.”

For Tricia, a sixth generation grazier, and her husband Jeffrey, drought is a humbling experience. Whether the rain will fall is entirely out of their control. Tricia says she doesn’t know what they’d do if they didn’t have faith.

“The weather keeps you very grounded. It keeps you very humble indeed. And you just have to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, because goodness gracious you could soon go AWOL in this country if you don’t!”

The financial strain in drought is an enormous burden to carry. Tricia says it’s the fodder costs – paying for extra feed for the animals – that “go through the roof”. They have over 400 cattle and 3200 sheep to feed, but there’s no grass. Trucking in hay and cotton seed is very expensive.

“It can certainly get you down,” says Tricia.

It’s one of the things they pray for when they go to church. Well, “go” isn’t quite accurate. On Sundays, the Agar family gather around a phone screen and teleconference in to ‘Church of the Outback’.

Run by the Church of Christ in Queensland, Church of the Outback is led by Alan Frankham. It’s  a weekly telephone church service, where families like the Agars phone in and share prayer points, sing together and listen to a Bible teaching.

Tricia says they almost never see anyone from their church face-to-face – the distances are too great. Barbara Plains is almost 130 kilometres from Charleville, one of the larger towns in the south west.

“It probably sounds pretty lonely to city folk,” she says, laughing. “But we’re not lonely here. This is life for us.”

Skye says she wrote the plea for prayer on the back of her response form back at Masterclass because she’d heard about other farmers from New South Wales and their struggles in drought.

“I just knew exactly what they were going through. And it struck me that there might be still people who don’t know about the drought. To know that people know and might be able to help and pray, it makes me so much more hopeful.”

Skye says the things she finds the most difficult in drought are “seeing the livestock so thin, the ground so bare and the sky just so blue. The sky needs to have clouds.”

But she holds close to a saying of her dad’s: “Every day is another day closer to rain.”

And that’s what the Agar’s pray for you. Will you pray, too?

Praying Hands Icon

Pray

Some prayer points to help

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive us for our sins and please bless our land with abundant rain over the next few months to break the drought that is breaking the hearts of farmers and their families. Amen

Comments

More