Refusing to let the worst of the storm get the best of them

By December 26, 2013
Congregations in Palo and Kananga will hold Christmas services in their completed church buildings. (Photo Credit - Christian Aid Mission)

Congregations in Palo and Kananga will hold Christmas services in their completed church buildings.
(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Philippines (CAM) — Believers in the village of Palo refused to let the worst storm in recent memory get the best of them. Yes, they lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their beloved church, but a helping hand from a local ministry is all they needed to begin anew.

After Typhoon Haiyan roared through their coastal community–located three miles from the city of Tacloban, residents were beset with grief. The slashing rain, fierce winds, and tidal surge flattened homes and turned an evangelical church into a pile of splintered boards.

A Filipino ministry assisted by Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, dispatched teams of Gospel workers to several towns and villages in Leyte province to see how they could best offer relief to storm victims.

“We sent teams to the hardest hit areas. I am a pastor, and since we know pastors in the destroyed areas, those places were our first destination,” said the ministry’s director.

Originally ministry leaders planned to reserve a C-130 heli-plane from the military that holds 10 tons of aid. However, thanks to generous donations from several Christian organizations, they had enough funds to purchase 15 tons of emergency supplies.

Relief volunteers filled up a dozen military trucks, loading them with bottled water, 3,000 sacks of rice, other food staples, used clothing, medical supplies, and tents for temporary shelter.

Many residents, including pastor friends of the ministry, evacuated the area during the storm and stayed in shelters until authorities permitted them to return to their villages. When they came back, all the pastors recognized was where their houses and churches used to be.

They also found teams of Gospel workers from the ministry waiting there to greet them.

“Where is your church?” a pastor in Palo was asked.

“It is gone. See this?” he replied, pointing to the concrete slab at his feet. “This is where our church used to stand. Now there is no roof, no walls, no chairs.”

Since the teams brought chainsaws with them, they set to work. First they cleared debris and the myriad of downed coconut trees blocking roads. Using the resources available to them, they sliced the dead trees into boards that would become the walls of the new church. For roofing materials, they gathered up strewn metal sheets–remnants of former roofs from destroyed buildings–and constructed a new covering for the church.

God provided all that they needed, and in a week’s time the work crew had rebuilt the church in Palo.

Now that they have a building, the congregation operates a soup kitchen to feed their hungry and hurting neighbors. The ministry leader said he has already purchased more than 800 cans of meat and vegetables and over a half ton of rice. He buys the supplies in Davao and transports them in the family pickup truck to Palo.

The outreach in Palo has been so effective that the ministry extended its work to another storm-devastated area, the village of Kananga. Construction crews have rebuilt the church there and are feeding the homeless.

While much work remains to be done, the ministry leader rejoiced over the resurgence of faith. He wants his heartbroken country to bounce back stronger than ever–built on a firm foundation with the Lord Jesus as its cornerstone.“The pastors on our work crews and other believers who live nearby are sharing the Gospel with all who come for assistance,” he said. “There are many formerly lost souls who have repented of their sins and become believers in Jesus Christ!”

Pray that many more will find hope and strength through Christ to look beyond the disasters Typhoon Haiyan brought.

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