After consulting together, Pastor Val Chaves, the national leader of The Foursquare Church in the Philippines, and I have determined that our best course of action will be to focus relief efforts in Ormoc City. We hope to be able to reach out to more remote locations as conditions improve.
Ormoc is a two-hour ferry ride from Cebu City, where we are currently staying and where commercial flights are available. Relief teams will be able to fly into Cebu and go by boat to Ormoc. Currently, food is available but very expensive. People are in desperate need of having their homes either repaired or rebuilt; also, the main church must be rebuilt.
The cost to repair the church will be approximately $15,000 to $20,000 in U.S. currency. Repairing the church is critical; the facility is needed as a gathering place for relief teams, both from the U.S. and the Philippines. From Ormoc, the teams can make their way into areas closer to Tacloban, as conditions allow.
As things progress in the coming weeks, we should be able to stage teams in Ormoc and take buses or cars to areas north of Ormoc. We had a team of Philippine relief pastors that ventured north in search of our pastors and congregants that still are unreachable by phone. We are awaiting their report.
I have received reports that Tacloban has food and supplies, but lacks the security to keep distributions safe. Two days ago, more than 30,000 50-kilo bags of rice were stolen. Because of the lack of security, Pastor Val and I decided that we could not venture out into that area at this time.
We can begin now to coordinate teams to go into the area, working with Foursquare Disaster Relief, and Pastor Val Chaves and his team of experienced pastors. These pastors have weathered hundreds or thousands of storms in their lives, and I am learning from them every day. I am honored and truly blessed to be able to be working alongside nationals and proud of our Filipino Foursquare family here.
I shared a meal last night with part of our Foursquare family in Ormoc City. As we sat together, with only candles to illuminate the darkness, my heart was broken for these people who have experienced such immense loss. The pastor and his family had lost everything—their entire home, church and personal belongings. Yet they willingly shared their rice and canned sardines with me. Breaking bread with them was both a humbling and an enriching experience.
As we spoke about the Foursquare family in the U.S. and our relationship with our Filipino brothers and sisters, the pastor of the Ormoc City church stated: “I owe Foursquare everything I have, my church, my family, my salvation. If it weren’t for the U.S. sending missionaries, we would not be sitting here together now in what is left of my church.” All of us experienced an overwhelming sense of family as we shared together.
Pastor Val and I visited several homes around Ormoc City with the local pastors, who are the channels through which relief efforts flow. The pastors look to Pastor Val for help and support, and he prayed with each one and offered words of encouragement. Every home we visited had some sort of damage. Some need to be totally rebuilt, some need new roofs, and others need all appliances and electronics replaced.
Rebuilding or repairing a damaged home will cost from $5,000 to $7,000. This need is critical and urgent, say the local pastors. Going farther north, 48 churches were either damaged or destroyed. The homes of congregants were also severely damaged or destroyed.
Government sources are stating that it could be three months before electrical power is restored to places such as Ormoc City. Places farther north could wait from six months to a year.
Donations are needed, as the following items are urgently required:
- Food and water
- Tarps and tents
- Building supplies
- Medical supplies, antibiotics, vitamins
- Solar lighting
- Personal items, such as clothes and shoes
I am so thankful for your gifts and prayers. God is able to supply abundantly more than we could ever imagine.
Please donate generously so that the Foursquare Disaster Relief team can respond well to assist in rebuilding the Philippines.