Typhoon Pablo (known internationally as Bopha) made landfall at dawn in Mindanao, Philippines, on Tuesday, December 4. The storm was reportedly more extreme than Typhoon Sendong, which devastated the area a year ago. Many residents were able to evacuate due to early warnings of the extreme weather conditions. However, there have been 477 confirmed deaths, hundreds were listed as missing, and hundreds of thousands have evacuated the area.
One of the hardest hit areas was New Bataan, Compostela Valley, where a new Nazarene church plant is located. At least 9,000 families (46,000 individuals) were affected in the area. As many as 100 of the total fatalities occurred in Davao Oriental. Officials said that the deceased are mostly low-income migrant workers in landslide-prone areas such as New Bataan. Others work in unregulated gold mines or banana plantations. One-quarter of the nation’s banana crop was wiped out.
A rapid response team was deployed to Tagum City (population 243,000) to assist the local Nazarene church with relief efforts, including material aid distribution and the establishment of a child-friendly space. The team will set up a disaster response base at the local church.
Philippines Field Strategy Coordinator Stephen Gualberto said relief efforts will focus on development with long-term interventions in addition to meeting the immediate needs of trauma care — particularly for children — and the organization of medical missions as required. After some initial difficulties due to communication outages, Gualberto connected with Mindanao East District Superintendent Erene Pastor, who appealed for help from the wider church.
The Field Office will join the Mindanao East District initiative to create the disaster response project Operation Pablo.
Nazarenes were also affected in nearby Cagayan De Oro. Leah Mae Open coordinated the Mindanao West District and the Philippine Field’s response to Typhoon Sendong last year over a five month period. In her assessment of the present disaster situation, Open wrote, “God is amazing and gracious.”
She reported no casualties, but there was significant damage to property. Seven evacuated families are housed at the Cagayan Church of the Nazarene. At Carmen Church of the Nazarene, flood waters rose halfway up the first floor of the church’s building, which was reconstructed after it flooded in last year’s typhoon. Open will lead the Nazarene Disaster Response team from the Mindanao West District and provide trauma counseling for children at the affected Consolacion Elementary School.
Additional relief efforts include building repairs, VIC classes and trauma counseling at Calaanan High School, and Christmas activities in Carmen, Calaanan, and Consolacion. Other churches affected in Cagayan De Oro include Malingin, Igpit, Opol, Misamis Oriental, Iligan, Ozamis, Dipolog, Bukidnon, Agusan, and Salay. Trained disaster response workers were recruited from the Mindanao West District to serve their sister churches and communities in Mindanao East. The field worked proactively to ensure that all churches and districts are adequately equipped for disasters and have facilitated disaster training across the country.
Nazarenes are encouraged to pray and give. Congregations on the Mindanao East District are gathering resources — food, used clothing, and finances — to help the affected communities. Additional churches and districts were asked to help with resources and personnel. In addition to social and denominational media, Nazarene broadcaster Jordan Escusa will explore opportunities to promote the need on his popular, Manila-based radio program, Perfect Rhythm.
The Philippines Church of the Nazarene welcomes the prayerful and practical support of the global Nazarene family as they reach out in Christlike and compassionate response to their neighbors in this time of need.
How to help
Persons and churches who wish to make a donation through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries can do so online here.
To make donations by mail, make checks payable to General Treasurer and send them to:
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put ACM 1200 in the Memo area.
Make checks payable to Church of the Nazarene Canada and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put ACM 1200 in the memo area.