Dulag, Leyte, Central Philippines: What happens when a group of people with a passion for ministry is connected with an opportunity to serve? Incredible results!
This was the case January 8th – 12th, when a Work and Witness Team with servant hearts came to this area so greatly devastated. This mixed nationality team arrived on site at the church in Dulag (Leyte) and began a building project that didn’t just involve wood, nails, metal and tarps, but even more so, lives and hearts.
The Dulag Church of the Nazarene is the home church of Rev. Edgar Longcop, District Superintendent of the Eastern Visayas District. The church and residence in Dulag were completely destroyed (one wall left standing in the church) by the more than 195 mph (313 km/h) winds that struck the islands on the morning of November 8th as Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) made landfall.
It was only in the days and weeks following the storm that the true scope of devastation began to become known. The some 200 mile wide path of Yolanda’s winds and storm surge wreaked havoc on the region, leveling complete towns, destroying agricultural lands, devastating the fishing industry, and leaving more than 8,000 dead or missing. This area of the Central Visayas Region of the Philippines is home to more than 350 Nazarene congregations. Many of our churches were either completely destroyed or severely damaged, and the homes of many of our church members were leveled.
Within just a few hours of the storm’s passing, our Nazarene Disaster Response Teams were on the ground conducting rapid assessments, coordinating critical life saving aid, and facilitating what would be an ongoing response for several months yet to come.
Teams like this recent one to Dulag are now being coordinated for the coming months. The Philippine Field Office’s strategy is to attempt to connect each local church that was destroyed with at least one Work Team.
Work teams are also having the opportunity to engage with the children in the community through the Child Safety Places. In any disaster, children are some of the most vulnerable. Nazarene Disaster Response and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries are working with local officials to establish locations where children can undergo psychosocial
counseling, debriefing and have an opportunity to “just be kids.” Hygiene kits, School Pal-Paks, and nourishing food packs are being provided to the children and families. In addition, area teachers are being debriefed, counseled, and then trained so that they can return to their schools and continue the emotional healing of their students.
More important than the physical building of the church, is the relationship building with the Philippine church families who are seeing first-hand, what it means to belong to a global church family like the Church of the Nazarene.
Hand-in-Hand, arm-in-arm, together, with our Filipino brothers and sisters, the Church of the Nazarene is impacting the lives of thousands not just within our church family, but within the community. We are being the tangible hands and feet of Christ.
And guess what…as a result...the family is GROWING!