Oct 6, 2009

Miracle in Manila: missionaries are safe in midst of storm

by Katie Bell

Through all of the recent devastation in the Philippine Islands, all 81 New Tribe Missions (NTM) missionary families were safe and sound.

On Sunday, Sept. 27, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines. The storm claimed the lives of 300 people in the worst flood Manila has experienced in over 40 years, according to the Associated Press. A month’s worth of rain fell in six hours, according to CNN, and the death toll is expected to rise as floodwaters subside.

The torrential downpour lasted for nine hours and left some places under 20 feet of water, according to the NTM Web site. Images from CNN showed people using makeshift rafts such as bathtubs, scraps of wood tied together with rope and other scraps to stay afloat. These hastily-made creations were used to transport family members and their belongings to higher ground.

The photos also revealed groups of people clutching a rope so they would not lose their balance and get swept away in the floodwaters as they waded through the streets in efforts to get to safety. The victims tried to find medical help, only to discover that emergency vehicles were submerged under water, rendering them useless, which is perhaps the most disheartening news of all, according to the NTM Web site.

Those who would normally be called upon to save the day found themselves victims with everyone around them.

The flooding was so severe that more than 80 percent of the capital was under water on Sunday, according to CNN.

On the island of Luzon, home to the capital city of the Philippines, approximately 300,000 people are currently displaced from their homes, according to CNN. Government officials estimate a total of 435,000 people are displaced throughout the island nation. Many Filipinos are literally stuck in their homes, unable to get out because of the extensive damage.

Rescue and clean-up efforts are muddy and smelly, with debris piled up to the power lines. Estimates predict that the floodwaters will not be completely gone for about a month and Manila has a 10-day weather forecast of rain, rain and more rain.

As with any natural disaster, people band together in order to come to the aid of those in need. This is providing the missionaries of NTM a unique opportunity to share the gospel with the people of the Philippines by demonstrating the love of Christ in the most adverse conditions.

“Relief operations are under way across the city with many missions and individual missionaries involved,” NTM reporter David Bell said on their Web site.

It truly is a miracle that all of the NTM missionaries escaped the wrath of the flood waters unharmed. In the midst of a storm they are being used by God as a light in the darkest
situations.

“The houses of several NTM missionaries were flooded. Belongings were destroyed or washed away and vehicles were submerged. However none were reported injured and all of those who were in precarious situations are now safe,” Bell said on the NTM Web site.

On the heels of Ketsana, the Philippines reeled under the shadow of a new threat —Typhoon Parma, according to the Associated Press. However, the storm veered north and fizzled from a typhoon into a tropical storm.

Rather than asking for donations to replace what missionaries lost, NTM is asking for prayer that the missionaries will be a blessing to those who have lost so much. Both missionaries and Filipinos are bracing themselves for yet another storm, as Typhoon Melor entered into Philippine waters.

Contact Katie Bell at kebell2@liberty.edu.
 


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