Southern Philippines:  On May 23, 2017, an armed-conflict erupted in a city in the southern part of the Philippines resulting in the displacement of nearly 360,000 people, about half of them children. Some, including the elderly and the very young, walked as far as 25 miles to get to safety. As of today, the death toll is close to 500, and is still climbing as authorities struggle to keep the area secured from extremists. Many of these casualties are civilian.

The Church of the Nazarene heeds the call of Christ to help and comfort the needy. Thus, through the coordination of a local church in the Southern Philippines, Nazarenes were able to reach out and show the love of Jesus in tangible ways.

The Church of the Nazarene in partnership with Lanao Development Team (LDT), a group of young volunteers who have been active in community development work among the poverty-stricken communities in the Southern Philippines, conducted Child Friendly Spaces in four different evacuation centers. Child Friendly Space is a safe place set-up in disaster-affected communities where children are helped to overcome trauma brought by disaster and return to their normal routine.

In addition to Child Friendly Spaces, the Church of the Nazarene and LDT also conducted medical and dental check-ups and provided medicines and crisis care kits from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries to hundreds of internally displaced families. These has all been made possible with the coordination of the government’s regional disaster management team.

For a long-term response, an Operation Safe Program for traumatized children will be conducted with the help of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and other groups such as the Philippine Children’s Ministries Network.

Philippine-Micronesia Field Strategy Coordinator (FSC) Stephen Gualberto recently visited evacuation centers, to monitor the work of the church and to encourage volunteers .

To date, the fighting continues. Sadly, several evacuees are suffering from mental disorder due to trauma, according to the Department of Health.

Pray that the fighting will stop soon. Pray for the survivors of this conflict that they will feel the love, peace and comfort that only comes from God. Pray for the safety of our volunteers and workers as the Church continues to be the hands and feet of Jesus.