‘Many country people right now are in the deepest pits of despair from a devastating drought’
“They have very little lifestyle left and they cannot buy into the market with the figures they’re asking for livestock at the moment,” Liz Howland revealed, before raising another obstacle – government red-tape. Liz said they’re drowning in it.
This is why Liz Howland heads up a ministry called Ray of Hope that takes her into the homes of outback families. And when given the opportunity, Liz shares the joys, the challenges and the tragedies that are being faced in the lives of everyday Australians.
Liz was born into a pioneering Central Queensland rural family which was at the forefront of stud and commercial cattle breeding and some of her siblings remain in those industries today.
Liz Howland said the Lord took her aside many years ago, and as she reflected upon her ministry’s beginnings, Liz informed Vision’s radio listeners that many country people right now are in the deepest pits of despair from a relentless drought.
“People think when there’s been a few weeks of good rain out west their problems are over. But that’s far from the truth.” Liz said the reality for these rural producers is that their resources have been depleted to almost nothing.
“They have very little lifestyle left and they cannot buy into the market with the figures they’re asking for livestock at the moment,” Liz informed, before raising another obstacle – government red-tape. Liz said they’re drowning in it.
“These are people that are squeezed beyond endurance and on top of that, all these government requirements and things are forever changing with government legislation,” Liz unloaded, saying it makes their future seem very uncertain.
20Twenty host Neil Johnson responded by saying the uncertainty is a historic reality of trying to eke out a living on the driest continent on the planet. Liz Howland said the uncertainty is not only confined to the bush.
“Wherever I go, the city or the bush, I find this great sense of concern about the way things are going and what do we do and the news doesn’t help that,” Liz commented, and hit the Scriptures with Jesus words ‘There will be wars and rumours of wars.’
“But if I can help people grab hold of a strong faith in God it will carry them through the good and the bad times. They’ll know where to turn and they’ll know how to do it.”
“That’s my passion. To see our nation, Australia, turn to Christ and experience what I’ve experienced in very real practical terms,” Liz declared.
But what’s it really like, what goes through Liz Howland’s mind and heart, when she visits the people who are in dire straits in the outback?
Liz said every visit is by divine appointment.
“It just seems to happen for you,” Neil Johnson observed, “God opens doors and you have such a magnificent way of being able to speak into people’s lives.”
Liz said her natural mind cannot comprehend how she ends up in some places.
“From the very beginning 12 years ago when I started this ministry, a vital necessity was knowing my link and my lifeline was in Christ. I only wanted to do what I was directed to do and the way he wanted me to do it,” Liz explained, saying she’s always pitched her tent and waited upon Him.
“In those places I worship, I read the Word, and I move when I have a download as I call it,” Liz said.
Liz gave an account of what unfolded when she visited Mitchell in Queensland, a town west of Roma on the road to Charleville.
“It was there that I really felt to ring a family in another isolated region and find out how they were. The mum answered the phone and said, ‘Well not so well actually. Our daughter was being taught by her boyfriend to drive a backhoe and she pulled a wrong lever and dropped the backhoe on him.’ The mother told Liz, saying her daughter cradled her boyfriend for three hours until the air ambulance arrived.
“He died in her arms just before the plane landed and the young woman was in deep despair and suicidal. And I just said to them, I’ll be there tonight,” Liz recalled.
Liz said it’s in tragic circumstances like this when you need to meet people where they’re at because there’s often walls up.
“Now this young woman, she just knew what she was feeling. She had no interest or faith in God. So we had dinner, then she and I went into another room quietly and we had a yarn,” Liz tells the story.
“As we yarned about all sorts of things we gradually got to a point where I gave her as much Christian information as she could take for that night. I prayed for her and she went to bed,” Liz said.
Liz said the young woman didn’t come out of her room for breakfast so Liz went to her room and prayed for her for three days.
“I had no time to ring for prayer support. We were in an isolated property so I stayed in my room and I interceded for that young woman.”
Liz said it was very significant that the young women emerged from her room on the third day.
“She was totally delivered, totally set free, and that whole spirit of suicide was completely lifted from her,” Liz recounted, saying she’s amazed how God goes before her into these situations and opens up their hearts.
“I will just sit there and listen and they eventually just pour out the things that are bothering them, and later they open up. But sometimes you don’t see the result then and there,” Liz disclosed, before telling the story of a young man who was showing her around his property.
“We’d talk about the cattle and then we’d get back to something spiritual. So when I left the young man I gave him an Angus Buchan Faith Like Potatoes DVD.”
“He had a senior position in a mine and I received a phone call from him at 5 o’clock in the morning a few months later, and he said to me, ‘Liz I just want you to know I’ve surrendered my life to the Lord’,” Liz said, saying there’s been many wonderful experiences like that.
Upon reflection, Liz Howland said the people she’s reached through her many God arranged appointments, have had some experience with religion.
The challenges of the bush are particularly harsh and as for the women, Liz Howland can’t speak highly enough of their resolve.
“They are such a resilient breed. But underneath the façade there’s deep, deep pain. 80 percent of the people I minister to have undealt with grief in their lives. They keep it to themselves.”
“Often country people can be awkward with grief. They don’t know what to do when someone’s just lost their husband unexpectedly, or a terrible tragedy has just happened in the family,” Liz said.
“They’re not equipped to help other people through their grief. So one of the resources I take with me is called ‘When Grief Leaves the Dictionary and Comes Into Your Home’.
Liz said she’s sown countless copies of those into libraries and into people’s hands providing a much needed help for them.
Liz was born into a pioneering Central Queensland rural family.
For many years, she worked tirelessly alongside her husband, managing and owning cattle properties, bred stud cattle and horses and raised four fine sons. She has faced floods, droughts, bush fires, slumps in the cattle market, bankruptcy and divorce with inimitable courage and faith in God, and can relate how He (God) has met with her, inspired her, led and guided her in a very practical way, through the many and varied circumstances of life.
Her passion is to see our Nation come to the life transforming knowledge of Jesus Christ, to convey the message that God’s life giving Word.
For Angus Buchan’s Faith Like Potatoes and other products, go to http://store.vision.org.au