Summer on the farm always saw the paddocks turn dry and dusty, with the crunch of dried grass underfoot. But the main dam and all the water tanks never dried out.
However, when my grandmother, Lorna, was about seven years old in 1919, South Australia was in the grip of a drought that had seen creeks and rivers run low, dams dry out and tanks empty.
Her parents, Erhardt and Antonie Roennfeldt, had seen water run low for stock and crops, and now the large underground tank only had about 60 centimetres of water left in it. This had to supply the needs of their whole family--the two parents and three of their six children--Oscar, Irene and my grandmother.
There was no connection to mains water then, so the situation was a little worrying when one of the neighbours approached, asking for water. Wilhelm (Bill) Lange and his family lived about half a kilometre from the family farm. They had run out of water and Bill came to ask Erhardt if he could possibly spare some water from the underground tank.
Lorna was indignant. "Dad, do we really have to give Mr Lange water? He's drunk a lot of the time and doesn't look after his family properly! What if there's not enough water for us?"
Erhardt looked down at Lorna. He sternly and told her in no uncertain terms, "Mr Lange and his family are in desperate need. As Christians, it's our duty to care for our neighbours in whatever ways we can. God will take care of us as He always has, so there's no need to worry."
Later that day, Bill came with his horse and cart, which was loaded up with barrels. They set to work pumping water into buckets, which were then emptied into the barrels. Lorna thought God would send rain the next day. But He didn't. However, the water in the underground tank was sufficient for the
needs of the Roennfeldts and Langes, as Bill came back a number of times for more water before rain came.
Years later, when Lorna was telling her daughter, Monica, about this, she said she'd found it hard to believe God would provide for them at the time. However, she had learned a strong lesson from her father's faith and generosity. His example influenced her to be of service to others.
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38. Adele Nash is currently a freelance writer and traveller based in Cooranbong, New South Wales.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God