This update is from Rev. Arnel Piliin, Field Strategy Coordinator for the Philippines-Micronesia Field.
As the newly appointed Field Strategy Coordinator, we want to share a moment about our experience with the NCM-Philippines Disaster Relief Team after the recent typhoons that hit the Philippines, and specifically the island of Luzon in the last month. We joined the team that headed south to the Bicol region and we were astounded at the impact and damage of the typhoons. It was not surprising, but we were reminded of the resiliency of the Filipino people as we saw many people already at work repairing their houses. Most of the power lines were damaged and down, and many children were begging for food. There was no electricity and no drinking water.
We arrived at the Legazpi Church of the Nazarene, and prepared the relief goods to be distributed. We split into two groups, one of which was led by Leody Echavez, NCM Coordinator for the Philippines. This group held a briefing with the children about trauma and then gave out food packs. The second group, which I led, ministered to the pastors and church leaders of the Bicol District. We prayed for them, shared relief goods, and listened to their stories.
The people of Bicol have experienced much fear and trauma. There have been earthquakes and eruptions from Mount Mayon. They have also had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of that on people’s livelihood and health. Now typhoons have struck Bicol, and caused yet more suffering. They shared that life is so tough right now for themselves, their congregations, and the communities they live in. One pastor shared that one of their members’ child asked “Why are we residing here? Let’s get out of here. I don’t want to experience these hardships.”
After hearing all of their concerns and fears, we prayed for the leaders as well as for their members. This is the real situation in Bicol District: people are experiencing fear and trauma, and they are worried about their lives and families.
But there is good news! Thankfully, the presence and resources provided by the Church of the Nazarene brought badly-needed encouragement. We were able to remind them that life is a gift from God. Every moment of it must be treasured, and we can be grateful because God is our Hope. He gives real peace in the midst of all these uncertainties and real suffering. His love continues every day and He uses people to be His hands and feet. We all have the opportunity to be the bearers of His blessings and peace to those around us.
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While we were in Bicol, Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) made landfall on Wednesday, November 11. We heard of the severe flooding in Manila, Rizal Province, Quezon Provence, and Cagayan Isabela. We traveled the 12 hours back to Manila through strong rains and flooded streets. By God’s protection we arrived safely. The flooding had forced people on top of their roofs, while they waited for someone to rescue them. Once again it felt like people were losing hope.
Through government relief efforts, victims of the flooding were placed in evacuation centers such as basketball gyms, and school classrooms. Evacuees found themselves without protection from COVID-19, and were often without enough food. This was another opportunity that God gave the Church of the Nazarene to spread His love, peace, hope, and faith. Together with the Metro Manila District and NCM, we again distributed food packs to the three most devastated areas in the Marikina area of Manila, and we were also connected with church members. Our prayer is that God will use these efforts to help us begin new Bible studies, and eventually a new church.
I am thankful for the opportunity to participate and lead the NCM-Philippines Disaster Relief teams. I have been encouraged by the church providing much-needed relief items to those who need them. It is empowering to hear stories of God’s hope, and to pass on peace that can only come from God. I am so thankful for the districts that have already mobilized in these efforts and for Leody Echavez, our NCM Philippines Coordinator.
There is still much to be done here on Luzon as new reports are still flooding in. Last week the NCM Team, along with the Metropolitan Luzon District, have moved on to the Cagayan region. Let us continue to join our hearts in prayer for peace during this time, as we help and support those who are in need.
If you would like to contribute to typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines, you can donate through NCM here.