Philippine Baptists report on devastation in country

The five Baptist World Alliance (BWA) member organizations in the Philippines, with total membership of about 430,000 Baptists, reported on the widespread devastation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan that devastated parts of the Southeast Asian country on November 8.

Among the urgent needs are for food, water, medicine and construction materials for housing.

Ildefonso Alfafara, general secretary of the Baptist Conference of the Philippines, with offices in Mandaue City in the province of Cebu, reported that some 2,000 families, including Baptists, have lost their homes.  Approximately 80 percent of homes in the province were badly damaged or destroyed. Several Baptist churches were also destroyed.

Judson Herbilla, general secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, with its base in Iloilo, a highly urbanized city in Panay Island, said communication was difficult as phone lines were down and travel by road, ferry or air to the affected areas were not possible. He estimated that there were 2,000 families in immediate need of help. Herbilla said many churches were affected by the typhoon.

Pastoral R.V. Gernal, executive secretary of the Convention of Visayas and Mindanao of Southern Baptist Churches, with offices in Davao City in Mindanao, the second largest and southernmost island in the Philippines, said communication channels and systems were down and many of those affected live in hard to reach areas. Baptists were helping to minister to those who were affected, including those in hospital.

Jeremias Muring, president of the General Baptist Churches of the Philippines, also headquartered in Davao City, said the city of Tacloban in Mindanao was one of the hardest hit areas. While aid is reaching those in the city, Muring said those living in the outlying areas and other cities are not getting any assistance. Communication is still difficult and the Internet is slow.  Volunteers are being trained to provide assistance.   At least one Baptist church in Tacloban was destroyed.

Gerlie Baltero of the Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches reported widespread devastation in the affected areas. He said hard hit provinces and cities included Leyte, Iloilo, Cebu, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Davao Oriental, Tacloban, Surigao del Norte and Palawan.

Carroll Baltimore, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in the United States, was in in the Philippines at the time when Typhoon Haiyan landed. "The destruction of the super typhoon has exceeded all predictions and expectations," Baltimore wrote.  "In the province of Capiz, 90 percent of the population [were affected] and buildings were destroyed. At least 15 of its area cities are wiped off the map and nothing exists."

The Philippines have experienced a series of natural disasters in recent months. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake occurred on October 15 in Bohol, an island province located in Mindanao. Since September, a total of seven typhoons have affected the Asian archipelago, with three, including Haiyan, in November alone. "I could see that repeated earthquakes and typhoons had taken its toll on the people," Baltimore said. He reported that many lived "in tents and had to evacuate at least four times in the past month due to repeated disasters."

The BWA is appealing to Baptist organizations, churches and individuals to make generous and urgent contributions to assist victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org/give, or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 14, 2013