Christians help landslide victims physically, mentally and spiritually

By February 27, 2006

Philippines (MNN) — Rescue teams abandoned the search for survivors in Guinsaugon, Philippines. The official death toll in the village is more than 100, but more than 1,000 are missing and believed dead. Now the focus is on helping those left homeless by the disaster.

Christians from a number of organizations are helping. The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism is just one organization. Speaking from the Philippines, ABWE’s Jim Latzko describes most of the survivors. “Many of these survivors are men. They were people who were out either delivering coconuts in another town. Other people were outside of the town doing farming, or they were high school young people — people who were attending the high school.” One Filipino pastor was killed in the tragedy.

ABWE will be working with Christians in the area to help, says Latzko. “There’s a pastor who plans to start a church there, so I thought it would be very wise to go down there and help him make some surveys and look at what he might be able to do to help the spiritual needs of the people there.”

As government and international assistance pours into the region, Latzko says homes will be rebuilt. However, with only a small percentage of the village population surviving the landslide, something else is needed. “Many of the men lost a wife, two, three or four children, grandfathers lost all of their grandchildren, high school kids lost mom and dad and their younger brothers and sisters. So, these people have a real need of rebuilding a new family.”

Pastor Silvano Iligan has a plan to build a community center to help. “We’re planning to assist him as he plants a church and being able to start a community center where people who have lost their families will be able to come together and get spiritual counseling and help and particularly we want to introduce them to God’s family,” says Latzko.

Latzko says it’s in times of tragedy that people look to God for answers. “I think all of us are more open to knowing about God and (having) a relationship with God when our regular human supports are taken away. And, when they’re gone we begin to cry out.”

ABWE is raising money for the church plant and the community center. Latzko says they need people to train long term counselors in grief recovery. He’s also asking people to pray that these victims will find comfort in knowing Christ as believers talk to them and share the Gospel with them.

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