"Help me to embrace a little child before it' is too late... enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout." This is a sentence from the Fireman's Prayer. First Lieutenant Roland Gardiner, from Whittlesea CFA (Country Fire Authority), gave this prayer to me after we visited the devastated area in Victoria, Australia. A fire swept through the outskirts of Melbourne and turned a normal Saturday into “Black Saturday”. In one village nearly 40% of the population died in the fire.
After Roland and I returned from our journey in the burned district he took me to the CFA offices. CFA is an organization started in the 1920’s to serve people on a voluntary basis. “Nobody ever received a cent for doing this work”, Roland said. Together we stared at all the names on the wall reminding us of the men who served for years. “These men”, he said, “serve because they care and they want to help those in trouble.”
In the last two days Oswald Chambers spoke about the same thing in “My utmost for His Highest”. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Matt. 20:28. Paul called it “ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Cor. 4:5. The idea was to pour out your life to the last drop for others. Receiving praise or blame made no difference.
On the day of the fire Roland had many responsibilities including defending his own property. He had one fire truck to defend many houses in his own neighbourhood. He sent the truck to defend the neighbours’ property while he and his son fought the fire at his own house. The decision to send the truck to his neighbours was not made that day in the heat of the fire but years before. Years before the fire Roland decided that serving other was important in his life... more important than many things he wanted for himself. You don’t make a decision like Roland did that day if it is not in your heart already.
I like to believe the Hands family is in many ways the same as the CFA family. We are volunteers; we care about people; we are passionate about the most vulnerable and we fight a fire. I also believe we have a comradeship binding us together. Even though we are from different cultures, backgrounds, race and age we constantly remind ourselves “WE ARE TOGETHER!”