The Philippines are in the midst of one humdinger of a natural disaster season. World Mission CEO Greg Kelley notes that none of this comes as a surprise to the Filipinos. “Of the 12 disaster-prone cities in the world, 10 of them are in the Philippines. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ that typhoon is going to come through, or the earthquake, which is most recently what’s happened.”
Although expected, the typical one-two punch can get pretty overwhelming. For example, “They’ve been hit by a number of 6.0 plus earthquakes. Now they get about 2000 earthquakes a year. So, you know, getting a cluster of them in such short order is not anything new. But the devastation and the intensity of these, in particular, are what are so unique. Dozens of people have died hundreds, and now more than 1000 people have been displaced and lost.” Then came Tropical Storm Nakri, and on its heels, Tropical Storm Kalmaegi (Ramon, in the Philippines) developed into a Typhoon.
The epicenter of the deadly quakes was near Mindanao. Kelley says, “It’s in the southern part, which is where we do a lot of our ministry because of the influence of Islam as well. There’s a great humanitarian effort that’s going on right now responding, food, shelter, clothing, basic survival, and we’re doing it in the Love of Jesus.”
Crisis, new opportunities in the Philippines
To put it bluntly, that they’re there at all in the Name of Christ, is nothing short of a miracle, says Kelley. “When it’s in a place that (prior to the disaster) there’s hostility to the Gospel, when these disasters strike such areas like the southern Philippines, there’s no doubt it creates a wide-open door for the Gospel.” How hostile?
Some areas of this region play host to ISIS training camps. In 2018, ISIS tagged Mindanao as part of its province in East Asia. However, because of some of these courageous Gospel workers, they found themselves well-placed when disaster struck.
By developing a network of churches, these church leaders mobilize quickly. Because they invested in the communities around them before the crisis, people recognized World Mission’s partners when they came to help in the hours after the quakes struck.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, R.B. Klama