Southern Baptists begin relief efforts in the Philippines (with VIDEO)

By Caroline Anderson
Nov 12, 2013

CEBU, Philippines—IMB personnel who live in the Philippines have begun feeding typhoon victims within days of the storm’s passing, though the full extent of the damage and the death toll is being assessed.

Disaster relief on the island of Panay is under way in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan. IMB representative Mark Moses purchased rice and canned goods using Southern Baptist relief funds and formed plans for distribution.

On Monday, Moses traveled to areas on the eastern coast, where the center of the typhoon passed.

“The devastation was overwhelming,” Moses said. “It’s going to take months, according to officials, to rebuild electrical lines into these areas.”

In the city of Estancia on the island of Panay, Moses heard an initial report on the radio saying 65 people died. Moses visited the town of Conception, and preliminary reports say nine people are dead.

“Because we are just beginning to get into these areas, the devastation is likely to be worse than we thought,” Moses said.

Assessment continues

Reports indicate the islands of Leyte and Samar took the hardest beating. IMB representative Stan Smith traveled three hours by boat to the western part of the island of Leyte. He hopes to work his way east toward Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province and the hardest-hit area. Right now, access from the western part of the island to the eastern side is not possible, but Smith plans to go as far as he can and pray roads will clear soon.

A disaster-relief assessment team from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention plans to travel later this week to the Philippines to aid in assessing the most critical needs.

Once access to Tacloban is possible, volunteers from the Philippine conventions, IMB personnel and Baptist Global Response volunteers will provide relief.

Moses heard from BGR teams in northern Cebu who are making assessments of immediate and long-term needs. They will be aided by the disaster assessment team arriving this week.

Ben Wolf, director of work in the Asia Rim for BGR, said one of the many heartbreaking parts of the disaster is the number of people lost in the fishing villages as a result of the flooding and surge.

“We may never know how many,” he says.

Request for prayers

Prayers in these coming hours truly make a difference, IMB personnel said.

“Pray for strength for those who are still stranded, low on food and water and are feeling helpless,” said IMB representative Dottie Smith. “This is such a great opportunity to help in the name of Jesus!”

Smith asks for prayer that roads and communication would be restored so BGR teams can bring aid relief to the islands of Leyte and Samar.

Smith also asks for prayer for the volunteers who are coming and that they would fit well into what needs to be done. She says the praise is that they’ve received contact from people around the world wanting to help.

“[Pray] for wisdom in coordinating it all!” Smith says. “Honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming!”

Give aid to victims

You can join Smith and IMB personnel in the Philippines in relief efforts. Every dollar you give to IMB for this crisis will meet needs because your missionaries’ daily support is supplied through churches’ support of the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Your donations buy the food, water and supplies that will be distributed in the Philippines.

Donations to help with the disaster response can be made here:

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