Philippines (MNN) — The death toll is now well over 200, and many people are still missing after Typhoon Ketsana hit Manila, Philippines with more than 16 inches of rain over the weekend. Flash flooding caught many by surprise. Most of those who died were overcome by the flood waters or fell victim to collapsing walls. Reports indicate almost a half-million people are displaced from their homes.
A well-known children's ministry has been hit hard by the disaster. Kathy Redmond with Compassion International says, "Compassion has 26 church partners who are in the affected area, and at least two have been affected seriously. When we know that the church has been affected seriously, that means it basically is not able to function the way that it should."
Compassion International assists 47,600 children throughout the Philippines. Redmond says it's hard to determine exactly how many of them have been affected by the disaster. "The Philippines is one of our larger countries. We have quite a few projects around Manila, but there are other islands we have projects on. So trying to get a handle on how many kids have been affected is very difficult right now and even how many kids are even in the area."
Telephone and electric services are still out in parts of Manila, making gathering that information difficult.
Typhoon Ketsana didn't spare the Compassion national staff. "We have probably the largest number of staff members that we can recall who [have] lost their homes and their cars." 18 Compassion staff members, including the country director, had to evacuate.
The government of the Philippines declared a State of Calamity for Manila and 25 provinces and has requested international assistance.
Compassion Philippines has already started helping. "We immediately sent $20,000. I think we're going to increase that to $50,000," says Redmond. "At the same time, we're doing quite a bit of fundraising to really stabilize the area and make sure that if more rains do come, the damage isn't further exacerbated. If any diseases would result from the flooding, we would address that as well."
As waters recede, Compassion will be assessing the damage. Redmond says millions of dollars in aid will be needed because of the kind of damage that occurred.
While the focus of Compassion's immediate work is providing for the victim's physical needs, evangelism isn't taking a back seat. "If these people are seeing the local church helping them to rebuild their homes, shelter, and water, that says a lot for our own Christian witness and testimony–more so than words say." And those deeds will provide opportunities to share the Gospel.
Please pray that the rain will stop and the water level will drop quickly. Pray also for God's protection upon Compassion staff and their families as well as mission partners and their families. Also pray that God would move on the hearts of His people to give generously to those who have been affected.