Eugene Guzon, GCI national director in the Philippines, writes concerning the recent devastating floods in Mindanao.
I recently returned from Mindanao where I visited and gave immediate assistance to our members in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, the two main areas in Mindanao severely damaged by the typhoon and flash floods that occurred at dawn on December 17.
The storm produced a ferocious flash flood that swept the city, trapping families in their homes, resulting in tremendous loss of life and property. We heard of accounts of bodies of entire families embracing each other as they all perished huddled together.
We have two churches in Cagayan De Oro City and one in Iligan City. Each of them has about forty to fifty members. I joined GCI Area Superintendent for Mindanao, Mr. Jerome Manriquez and Pastor Rollen Olango of Cagayan de Oro and Pastor Cristito Rico of Iligan City, in visiting our members in those areas. Due to power outages, it had been difficult to contact them immediately. But I am happy to report that all are accounted for. They are safe, though some are looking for temporary shelter. We thank God for delivering them from the rampaging waters.
The Mugot family told of how they had to climb their way in the dark through the roof of their house with the aid of a small penlight. That was their only option, because flood water was rising fast, rampaging outside their door. After they got to the roof, they lent their ladder to the neighbor who was sick and who was screaming for help. That ladder allowed them to flee to safety.
They prayed even in their near panic as the water reached to only about a foot below them. Thankfully at about five o’clock in the morning, after about four hours of being drenched in rain and almost swept away by strong winds, the rain subsided, and the flood slowly receded. The same story of miraculous intervention happened to another member, whose family lives about four kilometers away. All were exhausted but grateful, telling stories of how, by God’s grace, they survived.
B. For our members’ well-being, relief and recovery. Many of them have suffered loss and a disruption in livelihood. The six families in our church who were severely affected are still in a state of trauma and shock at this time, especially the children. Three houses of members in Cagayan and three houses in Iligan are nearly beyond repair. They are finding a place to rent in the meantime, while salvaging whatever is left of their belongings. They need another place on which to build again.
C. For relocation of the two church meeting places. The church house that they used in Iligan and the place where they hold their small group meetings lost its equipment and furniture to mud and water. The vicinity where we have our church hall in Cagayan De Oro also suffered so much that we will need to relocate to a safer place.
D. For additional supplies, food and clothing. We still need emergency food supplies for our members who lost almost all their belongings: beds, bedding, furniture, equipment and clothing.
E. For the restoration of power and drinking water for the cities. These may take a month or so to restore.
F. For additional volunteers and food supplies needed for the members to do a soup kitchen for the victims near the church area in Cagayan De Oro. Despite the trauma and the losses suffered by the members, they have started providing food through a soup kitchen to people near the near our church.
Meanwhile, the national office has extended some financial assistance to the members most affected by the floods. But this is very inadequate, because the need is just staggering. We are beginning to receive some help from local churches and we appreciate this very much.
This painful experience reminds us that there is only one real source of security and that is our Lord Jesus. Regardless of the physical, natural and emotional chaos we face, we can rely on him as our source of peace. He understands our needs and is able to identify with us. We may not fully understand why we have to go through so much pain and suffering, but one thing is sure: All things work together for good to those who love God. In him, we are secure!
For additional detail see http://gci.ph/weekly-updates/connect-2011/170-connect-december-30-2011.
The denomination is offering financial assistance from the GCI Disaster Assistance Fund to the brethren in the Philippines to help with their emergency needs.
Members and congregations in the US can help with recovery efforts by contributing to the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. This special fund was established to help provide members in disaster areas with emergency needs such as food, water, medicine, clothing, temporary housing, home and/or church hall repairs, temporary local pastoral salary expenses and other emergency needs. Donations can be sent to:
GCI Disaster Relief Fund
P.O. Box 5005
Glendora, CA 91740