15 November 2013
Pastors and Brethren,
First, I would like to apologize for sending this letter only this time, as there is difficulty sending wire through the net. Also, after the typhoon, our immediate task was to assess the situation by going the rounds to see what happened to members and their houses.
All souls were accounted for; there were no reports of injuries sustained by any member. For that we are very grateful to the Lord our Preserver. Another thing we are thankful to the Lord for is that the typhoon did not bring with it too much water and mud. Nevertheless, the landscape was one of rubble and ruins more than I could have conceived before; but unlike during the typhoon Frank in June 2008, we did not spend time clearing mud, though the volume of debris from broken trunks, felled trees, blown away roofs, collapsed houses, and strewn wires from electric poles, were more than what typhoon Frank left. Because of this, the skyline received more than its fair share of light and glare, as a result of trees and bushes torn, if not snapped, from their trunks. Volumes of leaves blown away rendered standing trees shorn of their green.
When we made the rounds later, and also due to communications coming from members, we found out that four (4) houses of our members collapsed; while another five (5) houses were partially damaged.
As some of you may have been made aware already, the church building – built of light materials – was struck hard by typhoon Yolanda, as what happened to innumerable structures and houses also made from native materials. The roof of the church building was blown away to the adjacent lot because of the very strong winds – the strongest so far I’ve witnessed in my entire life. As a result, the whole structure was rendered weak when the wind blew the roof off snapping in the process all the bamboo posts from where they were planted; because of this, the whole structure leaned – if you’re facing the church premises from the street – to its left. So the following Sunday we gathered at another place for worship.
The elders of the church praise God for the spirit of the members – especially those whose houses were damaged; though, at first, shock overwhelmed them, the clear teaching on the sovereignty of God, that God is the author of this calamity, gave much comfort to them, especially, in the light of other passages (especially Rom. 8:28) that show that God will definitely do good to His people, despite the seeming incomprehensible disaster that struck us. Yes, there were signs of sadness; but I thank God, as an elder of this church, there was no sign of bitterness in their hearts. The messages were centered on hammering the sovereignty of God over these things. We are blessed, indeed, for knowing that God sends these things, not out of caprice or whim, but – and we are sure about this – to do what is good (best) for His people at this time.
Another cause of praise is the immediate response of brethren from other places; having known that there are many who would want to help, and exerted much effort to communicate with us, strengthened the hearts of the brethren here – I know of a member who was moved to tears knowing that brethren from other places are willing to render aid.
Earlier this day, I got information from a staff of the electric cooperative here that 140 posts (which include those in the province of Aklan) were felled or snapped, so that it will take at least two (2) months before our province could be re-energized.
I’ve tried to attach pictures to this message, however, the line is slow in transferring them from the files to this letter. The brethren could view the pictures by going to the facebook account of our member who is presently studying in Los Banos, Laguna. Her facebook account is novelyn revesencio.
For the moment, we would like to solicit your prayers and help for the following:
1. That the lives of these members would return to normalcy soon;
2. That the houses of members could be rebuilt soon, so that they will be able to return to their normal way of life;
3. There are members who really need help, at least financially, because they have to face two things: their collapsed houses and their livelihood;
4. The safety of everyone during nighttime because total blackout is a convenient cover for criminal activities;
5. That we will be able to worship comfortably in our present worship place, and that the visitors who regularly visit us will not be discouraged from attending (as the alternative place of worship is some kilometers off from the present site, and transportation fares slash sizably their already meager budget);
6. And in relation to this, that God would provide us with the finances to be able to rebuild the worship place with stronger materials, since we expect that this phenomenon will become the new ‘normal’ for the coming years. Also, the church finances will not sustain a prolonged lease of worship place;
7. That God will give wisdom for the elders on how to distribute aid to needy members.
We seek your prayers, most especially, for the whole church to mature more out of the spiritual exercises that this providence brought us to. Our hearts also go out to the brethren and the people in Leyte whose houses and livelihood Yolanda ravaged, not to say the least thousands of lives perished.
In behalf of the elders and brethren,
Ptr. Andy Ingente
Kalibo Reformed Bible Church of
Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines