(Relief operation for typhoon Yolanda victims in Ajuy Iloilo)
By Pastor Bernard de Jesus
For those of us who experienced its fury, we will never forget that fateful day of November 8, 2013 when super typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines, causing devastation and carnage to lives and property in the Visayas region. The whole country watched in horror as images of the aftermath of the storm unfolded on national television. No one could believe what they were seeing. The images of death and destruction were too much to bear that tears flowed from the eyes of our countrymen who were shocked into disbelief that such a storm could hit the Philippines.
But horrifying as they may be, the aftermath of such calamities brings a great influx of relief operations not only from our local government and local groups, but from the international community as well. It is in this scenario that the Church must not be indifferent, but be one of the very first to respond in compassion for those who have suffered great loss. After all, Jesus did say, “let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” It is in response to this teaching of Christ that JECPP reaches out to one of the hardest hit places in the island of Panay, Northern Iloilo.
The date for the relief operation was set for November 30, 2013 in the town of Ajuy Iloilo, where Evangel Family Church planted its first outstation work way back in the late eighties. The packing of the relief goods and rice were done in the Western Visayas office with the help of some young people from EFC Jaro and EFC Sta. Barbara. Truly they were a blessing to the relief efforts in Ajuy. The team assigned to help distribute the relief goods and rice where composed of Church planters coming from the Iloilo region and Capiz. All were in high spirits and full of joy to be part of this relief operation.
We were able to charter a large jeepney to help transport us and all the relief goods to Ajuy. We left Iloilo City at around 5:30am and made our way through the coastal road of northern Iloilo going to Ajuy. As we passed by each town, the evidences of typhoon Yolanda’s destructive power unfolded before our eyes. Uprooted trees, damaged school buildings, pulverized houses and marketplaces whose roofs were nothing but twisted metal. Such sights met us during our two hour trip, not to mention children begging for food and drink along the road.
After two hours of seeing all this, we finally reached Ajuy and were greeted by Pastor Benjie Chavez and Ptr Lina who graciously prepared breakfast for all of us. It was indeed a fun time to fellowship over plates of scrambled eggs, noodles, fresh bread and coffee before we commenced with the distribution of the relief goods. Truly we were blessed by their hospitality, which also included the efforts of some of their members who gave their time to cook for us. God bless them for their heart.
When we entered the church building, there were already a number of people waiting for the relief goods to be distributed. You could see in their faces that they were really in need of the goods that we brought with us. One could just imagine the crisis these poor people had gone through on the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda. Their loss has left most of them homeless and hopeless. This is why we were so eager to be part of this relief operation. By close to 10am, there were many people coming in with their coupons to receive their relief packs. We distributed packs containing canned goods, noodles, beverages, toiletries, plus four and a half kilos of rice (2 gantangs), which according to one resident, “was the heaviest pack of rice they have received in any relief operation.” Praise God!
All in all there were three hundred people who received relief packs. Even those people, who were not able to obtain coupons, were able to receive because there were extra relief packs that were left. Ptr. Benji allowed this, out of compassion for these people who were in desperate need.
It was indeed a successful relief operation for all us. Having completed the task given us, we headed for the town of Sara for a time of lunch and fellowship. After this, we headed back to Iloilo City, satisfied that we had done our part in bringing hope to the victims of typhoon Yolanda in the town of Ajuy.
The relief operation indeed made an impact on the community, for Ptr. Benji testified a few days later, that the day after the relief operation, their Sunday service was full packed that they didn’t need to fetch people in order come to church. The people just came, having been touched by the love of Christ the previous day through our relief operation. To God be the Glory!
We thank our founding Chairman, Rev. Dr. Robert Lim and the Spiritual leaders of JECPP for helping to make this relief operation possible and a success. God bless all of you!