A year ago this week, we got news of a devastating earthquake in the Philippines on the island of Bohol where we had more than 300 sponsored children. We could not immediately reach all of our pastors because electricity and communication was down across the island. Most businesses were closed because of structural damage and lack of electricity. Many homes, churches, schools and businesses were destroyed or badly damaged. In two towns where we had many sponsored children, every structure in town was destroyed or damaged. Adding to the problems were heavy rains and wind when Super-typhoon Yolanda hit them 2 weeks later. I tried to imagine what it would be like to go through a Cat 5 hurricane in a canvas tent. Life was hard and chaotic on Bohol for several weeks and months in the hardest hit areas.
There is a lot of celebration this week on the island of Bohol as they mark the one-year anniversary of these events. They are celebrating life itself and thanking God for sparing them and helping them in the restoration. On Wednesday in Catigbian, near the epicenter there was a parade of thanksgiving to God followed by a citywide celebration in which the Gospel was preached and many came to know Jesus as the Savior who has cared for them.
It is true that when times are hardest, people turn to the Lord. Many people have been saved in the past year as the Gospel is unashamedly shared to the disaster victims. One of our pastors has said that tragedy and disaster opens the hearts of people to hear the Gospel and accept Jesus. This has certainly been true. The churches are seen as places of refuge and help. In one church there are still people sleeping there every night. The last count was that 3 widows and 16 orphans are sleeping at the church.
We are so thankful that in this great disaster, not one of our sponsored children were killed or seriously injured.
Here are some of the things made possible by the response of FCM Partners, Sponsors and Friends when we asked for help:
The first and most basic need was clean drinking water. Even small children were crying and begging for a drink of water. We sent money to one of our local pastors who loaded his van and made his way over some dangerous roadways to the hardest hit areas to take as many bottles of drinking water as he could carry.
- Over the next few weeks, we sent money to all the pastors of our sponsored children who were in the affected areas. This was used for water, food, medicines, blankets, clothing and other immediate needs.
- Many sponsored children lost everything when their homes were destroyed first in the earthquake then in the floods that followed so quickly. We sent money to help replace school clothes and shoes, school supplies and books, as well as other personal and household items for families of sponsored children.
- Many families were living in tents provided by the UN because their homes were destroyed. After helping meet needs for water, food and other necessities, we began to send money to purchase materials for rebuilding homes and churches. The people provided the labor – all they needed was some help to get the materials.
- This school year we have picked up several new children to sponsor, children who lost parents in the earthquake or floods. This was made possible by money sent by FCM Partners.
Thank you for your response that made it possible for us to give a drink of water and more in Jesus Name. Gifts to our disaster fund are placed in a fund to be used in emergency situations such as this so we can respond immediately to needs. To give to this fund, go to Disaster Relief Fund.