Destruction remains five months after Typhoon Haiyan

Photo by Christian Aid Mission

(Photo by Christian Aid Mission)

Philippines (MNN) — Five months after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, the country is still reeling from the destruction.

Christian Aid Mission is coming alongside indigenous ministries there, to help them rebuild and begin functioning again.

The team has been focusing on reconstructing ruined buildings and replacing mission supplies. Progress is slow because there are very few workers. New estimates report that electricity will not be back until June.

Steve VanValkenburg of Christian Aid says, “It takes time just to get back on our feet. But it does hamper their ministries, even though they say people are very open to the Gospel.”

While it is true that people are hungry for the truth of the Gospel, everyone is very busy.

Many ministry leaders have left the area for bigger cities. “Right now, they’re off trying to find employment to be able to keep their families going, and that is a problem for ministry. They’re not back on their feet yet. There’s a disability there; they’ve been disabled from doing a lot of things they want to in ministry because they’re busy rebuilding and trying to make a living,” VanValkenburg says.

The damages don’t stop on the physical level. Emotionally, these victims are dealing with loss of property, and more tragically: people. Even now when a storm comes, it causes concern.

VanValkenburg says that many children deal with it by pretending it didn’t happen as they work to get their life back to normal. “That’s probably a good thing about school: it gets the kids back into a normal routine, even though there’s heartbreak now.”

He says kids will always look back at this tragedy with heartbreak.

However, VanValkenburg is pleased that many ministries are still at work. This includes VBS, clubs, and training.

“The main thing people need is….hope,” VanValkenburg says. “There’s no way for enough aid to come in to ever rebuild everything that was destroyed by the typhoon. Still, if people have hope, they’ll be doing fine. And the main way we have hope is actually in Christ and knowing that we’re in His hand, and we think of the eternal things and we have eternal values. As long as people are hearing the Gospel and they’re hearing the Bible preached, they’re going to have hope.”

The hope is that Christians within the church can live out what the Body of Christ is meant to do in times of peace and turmoil. That means Christians should be focusing on building each other up. And yes, unconquerable hope only occurs within the church.

As VanValkenburg explains, worldly sources of hope can only last so long: “Whenever there’s a trauma, initially there is a stiff upper lip. People may fall apart, then they say, ‘We’re gonna get going.’ But after a while, it gets old.”

People get sick of living in moldy houses without doors, windows, roofs, or electricity. They get sick of not having practical ways to cook.

“Pray for the people there to have endurance. I think also it’s easy for them to get their eyes on just the goal of rebuilding–which should be the goal. They should be doing that. But they need to be encouraged to be the Body of Christ and to see the Body of Christ function within that area.”

Please pray that the people of the Philippines would be encouraged spiritually and that they will keep their eyes on Christ. Pray that they would grow in their faith and share that with the lost around them.

Because of the way things are done in the Philippines, local help for construction is better than outside help. That means that you can help support them financially, enabling them to utilize local resources.

Pray also that God will help them replace all of the lost materials and rebuild their churches.