Leoncio Arabelo Jr., chairman of The Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches of the Philippines, sends the following letter regarding his ministry to areas affected by the recent earthquake and super typhoon.
I went to Bohol, the province that was hit by the Oct. 15 earthquake. The ruin in the areas where it struck is hard to describe. We met with 19 pastors in the area whose church buildings and parsonage were affected by the quake. We spent the whole day with them, listening to their painful experiences and doing our best to be a comfort and blessing to them. We ended our gathering by singing the hymn “He Hideth My Soul” after I shared the Word of God and prayed with them. We brought with us some goods and financial assistance for their pastors. It was a joy to see their smile after their experiences with the earthquake. Thursday, Nov. 7 we headed back to Cebu, where we boarded the plane and went home. My three companions from Manila were able to fly home, while I was left in Cebu, as my plane was cancelled due to the worsening weather condition. I was stranded in Cebu due to the super typhoon for three days. Coming home, I started receiving reports about the extent of damages the typhoon brought upon our churches.
To this day, we have 43 churches in Panay island (Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Northern IloIlo) severely damaged (most do not have roofing anymore, including the parsonage). We have brethren and pastors who are living in evacuation areas, while most opted to stay in their houses and make the most of what is left. We have churches totally washed out with only the flooring left as proof that once a building stood in the place.
In Leyte and Samar area, where the storm did most of the damage, we have 17 churches that were either suffering from major damages to their structures or totally washed out. We have close to 9,000 believers affected. Many lost their homes.
What we have done so far is strive to meet daily basic needs. We are coordinating with churches in the fellowship throughout the country as to this matter, and so far the Lord has been so good. Each regional association is taking turns bringing help to affected churches. I was in Northern Luzon last week, Ilocos Norte, meeting with some 30 pastors and giving reports as to what we are doing and giving ideas on what they can do to help.
Just this week a group of 25 pastors and deacons skilled in carpentry went to three areas in Leyte and helped three churches put up their buildings. At least they have roofing again where they gather for services. We will go back there the first week of January for another two weeks and go to other places where carpentry work is needed. We will provide our own food for the trip and all that we need so we will not be a burden to the brethren in the affected area.
On behalf of a grateful association,
Leoncio Arabelo, Jr.
chairman, The Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches of the Philippines