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Baptists bring relief to typhoon-devastated Philippinescomment (0)

November 28, 2013

Baptists bring relief to typhoon-devastated Philippines

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan — which left the Philippines battered and without easy access to relief supplies Nov. 8 — Southern Baptists have been at the leading edge to meet the needs of the hurting.

A specialized disaster relief team assisted people with immediate survival needs, said Pat Melancon, managing director of disaster response and management for Baptist Global Response (BGR). The group that followed was to make detailed assessments and formulate a longer-term strategy for helping survivors rebuild their lives.

BGR has released an initial $15,000 in relief funds to humanitarian partners who are focusing their efforts on three areas: Tacloban, which is the hardest-hit area, and northern Cebu and Panay provinces, said Jeff Palmer, BGR’s executive director. Baptist churches in the Philippines and Filipino teams trained in disaster relief will be working alongside Southern Baptist workers in efforts focusing on immediate needs such as water, food and shelter.

“For Christians, every disaster is a call to action; we are called to help those who are suffering when they need it,” said Gerlie Baltero of the Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches. “This is one ministry we cannot turn our backs on.”

The typhoon’s sustained winds, peaking at nearly 200 mph, drove waves 20 feet tall into the coastal city of Tacloban.

At press time, the death toll of Haiyan — one of the most powerful storms in recorded history — had passed 5,000.

University students in the Philippines and church members of the International Southern Baptist Church of Cebu assembled relief kits for the inhabitants of Gibitngil Island on Nov. 18. 

Global Hunger Relief — formerly World Hunger Funds — distributed by BGR were used to purchase rice, canned meat, sugar, powdered milk, ramen noodles and Nescafé for the kits. These supplies are enough food for a household for one week.

Susan Stokeld, a BGR project director, said the kits “will help those who have nothing.”

Dwain Carter, disaster relief strategist for the Missouri Baptist Convention, traveled with BGR partner Adore Sabido to Gibitngil Nov. 16–17 to assess needs.

Carter said there are 449 families on the island in need of water and food. Right now, the island’s only water source is rainwater.

After building rapport with the village leader, plans were put in place for the relief kits and for volunteer teams to help the community rebuild.

Carter said all of the roofs on village homes, except for the roof on the village leader’s house, were gone. The school on the island also was damaged.

Carter said the village leader initially seemed skeptical of the team. 

“What if we bring enough food for one meal for everyone on the island?” Carter asked him.

Carter said the leader’s eyes widened and his heart softened.


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