ESTANCIA, Philippines—Pastor Michael Rama huddled with his wife and their 11-month-old son in the Estancia Baptist Church parsonage as winds and waters from Typhoon Haiyan pounded their home.
When the roof blew off, they rushed into the adjoining church sanctuary, where they found 100 church members and friends seeking refuge. God protected their lives that day, Rama insisted, and he continues to offer praise for blessings he and his family experienced.
A Texas Baptist disaster assessment team met Rama and other pastors during a recent weeklong trip to the Iloilo province of the Philippines.
Texas Baptist Men and the Baptist General Convention of Texas disaster recovery office, worked in conjunction with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. The Texans traveled to three coastal towns badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan—Concepcion, Estancia and Ajuy.The team, with representatives from
Ernest Dagohoy, executive pastor of First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City and vice chair of the BGCT Executive Board, and his wife, Cecile, began contacting friends and family in their homeland the day after the storm hit to find out how they could provide help.
“When the opportunity came for me to make this trip, I did not hesitate at all, because I knew fully well that it was God’s invitation for me to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to my fellow Filipinos who were still reeling from the devastating effects of the typhoon,” Dagohoy said.
“I went in obedience to the call of God, and I am so happy to see a glimmer of hope in the eyes of the many people we served.”
Each day, the team met at a local church hit by the storm and ministered to pastors and church members in that area. Cecile Dagohoy, a physician licensed in the Philippines, held medical clinics in churches. She saw more than 100 patients each day, providing vitamins and medicine to people in need.
The disaster response team toured the towns and evaluated the damage, exploring ways Texas Baptists may assist in rebuilding. The typhoon left many homes and churches badly damaged or completely destroyed. Power lines and uprooted trees covered the landscape.
Estancia, the most hard-hit town the team visited, sustained severe damage, and an oil spill from a barge also covered one-third of the town’s coastline, forcing mandatory evacuation for many residents.
Church leaders listed roofing materials for churches and pastors’ homes among their greatest needs. Texas Baptists delivered materials to help 18 churches and 11 pastors’ homes damaged by the storm. They also placed orders to help an additional nine churches and six pastors who expressed needs to the team.
TBM representatives Jack Meyer and Duane Bechtold delivered water filtration systems to pastors, demonstrated how the systems worked and set them up at the churches. The systems can provide 50 gallons of clean, drinkable water each day for up to six months.
“I went to the Philippines because Jesus compels me to share his love with our neighbors,” Meyer said. “Even though the Filipino people are halfway around the world, they are my neighbors. Jesus’ love showed in the faces of the Filipino Baptist pastors as they watched our demonstration of the water filters. Their excitement and joy were precious—pure water so easily attainable—literal waters of life.”
After a week of assessment, Texas Baptists are developing a plan to provide assistance to those they met. From meetings and visual assessment, the team determined helping rebuild pastors’ homes will be the best way to partner with Christians in the Iloilo region.
“One of the biggest challenges you face when visiting a mass disaster area is trying to find your piece of the puzzle,” said Chris Liebrum, director of Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery.
“It would be impossible meet the needs of everyone. Our plan to help rebuild pastors’ homes will be our piece. I’m confident that Texas Baptists will respond generously to the needs of these pastors and their families.”
To donate to TBM disaster relief efforts, click here.
“I realize that the recovery work will take years to complete,” Dagohoy said. “However, I am deeply honored to be a part of what God is already doing in bringing comfort and restoration to our people who have been broken but not completely crushed.”