Archive for November, 2013

November 15, 2013

Super Typhoon

by pastortimfowler

When I decided to go to the Philippines last year, I kept telling my wife that I need to go in November. I was not sure why, all I knew was that everything in me said go in November. So I prayed and felt that God was leading me and made reservations for the first 2 weeks of November 2013. The reason for this trip was to visit a good friend and fellow pastor, Antonio Ner, whose church we have supported through the years. It was supposed to be a trip to see where we can best help, reinforce the facts of his ministry is worth supporting, and I kept getting this feeling like God was going to show me something miraculous. Little did I know that I was going to be right in the middle of history; the strongest storm ever recorded to make landfall; Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Here on the east coast of the USA we call these storms hurricanes. In the Pacific they are called typhoons. Because the waters around the Philippines is always warm due to its close proximity to the equator, typhoons can from year round and often become really strong, really fast. This was true for the storm named, Yolanda.
We arrived on a Friday, two days after we left Rock Hill SC. Our first days on the ground were challenged with being part of a weekend youth rally where we were to play volleyball and basketball and share the gospel with about 200 kids. Although jetlag was kicking our butts, we managed to get through it fairly well. The next couple of days we have various activities, including a meeting with city official in the mayor’s office and a tour of the local Bible College and speaking to some 250 high school students. We also confirmed with a much larger high school, a Thursday assembly to speak with over 2500 student about drugs and alcohol and the fact that God has an answer to those who ask Him for help.
As Wednesday night rolled around we began to hear about this storm that had formed and was quickly gaining strength. The storm named Yolanda was on a trajectory to hit our island and several others in its path. Thursday the decision was made to cancel school as the outer bands began to hit the island and the storm grew stronger.
By Thursday night, Yolanda had grown to the “super typhoon” status. It was still gaining strength and was looking like it would be historic…and it was. By Friday morning, Yolanda was the strongest storm ever recorded to make landfall. Its path was through several of the southern Philippine islands, including ours. We were going to be on the strongest side, the southern side of the storm. Warnings were up and preparations were being made to evacuate, yet many had no place to go and even those who did manage to find emergency shelter could not be guaranteed safety from this massive storm.
Our Friday morning was first spent in one of the local jails, ministering to and feeding prisoners. As the winds were building and the storm drawing near, the gospel was shared and received by those incarcerated on this island. One of the prisoners gave me a small model wooden boat that he had made and I thought, how nice; a life boat.
Later that day as the storm intensified, the Pastor Ner gathered myself and a couple of his church men and we went to help people who needed to flee their homes for shelter. As we drove around I kept thinking about the radar picture I saw that showed the strongest part of this storm hitting out area. I kept thinking that it was not as bad as I thought it would be and then the winds would gust and blow our vehicle and trees across the road.
Several times we stopped to cut trees with a machete and help people who were trying to remove debris from the roads. We helped some people find shelter and finally headed back to our own places to finish out the storm.
The next day the reality of this storm began to unfold as news pictures showed the island next to us in complete chaos. We drove around our own island checking on people and taking food to those in need and seeing for ourselves the devastation. Although our island had much damage, it was nothing in comparison to the other islands. The governor of our island made a profound statement and to this day I can only agree with what he said. Negros Occidental was spared from the wrath of this storm through Divine intervention and prayer.
I thought that I was going to this tropical nation to help a fellow pastor and to learn more about his ministry. My thoughts that God wanted to show me something miraculous was true. What I thought and to be honest, I wish my ideas was true, was that I may see someone healed from being crippled or a blind person receiving their sight, but instead I saw something on a much grander scale. I saw God save thousands from a super typhoon’s rage and there is no one that can convince me otherwise.
Please pray for these people who will be trying to recover for years to come. If you would like to help, there are many ways. One way is to give to Pastor Ner directly. He knows the worst of the needs and can get the food and supplies there the same day. Our church has a direct line to get him funds. You can contact me if you are interested in helping and I will share the details of how this works. But if nothing else, pray.
Visit our church website or Facebook page if you would like to help. Or email me at emanrev.