Churches are among those helping people in the Philippines who have lost their homes and loved ones to Typhoon Haiyan this weekend (8-10 November).
Tearfund partners, including local churches, have helped people to evacuate their homes and villages in time to avoid the worst of the typhoon, which is one of the biggest in recorded history. But despite the best efforts of emergency services and humanitarian agencies, many thousands of lives have been lost and homes have been washed away.
‘We keep hearing more and more bad news as the death toll figures increase,’ says Matthew Frost, Tearfund’s Chief Executive.
‘It has been difficult to confirm all the details because of power cuts and difficulties in reaching our colleagues but we know that landslides, flooding and high winds have wiped out homes, businesses and farms.
‘Our partners are in the evacuation centres, giving care to survivors who need food, water, shelter and help to find their loved ones.’
Rescue operations and food distributions have started to reach people but there are still areas of the islands where people have not yet been traced.
Pastors, church workers and volunteers are travelling by motorbike to some of the more remote areas over the next few days to find survivors and offer help. Despite difficult conditions, they will travel long distances for three days at a time to reach villages where they expect to find high death counts and many grieving people.
Tearfund calls for prayer for the survivors, who will need assistance for many months to come.
‘We know from other major natural disasters like the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 that it can take years for people to rebuild their lives,’ says Matthew Frost.
‘As well as the urgent and practical things like helping people have a roof over their heads, we know that there will be a lot of grief as people come to terms with bereavement. We must pray for the thousands of people who are grieving and ask God how he wants each of us to respond to their needs.
‘Please also pray for the churches who are sending teams out, many of whom will travel long distances by motorbike, that their teams would stay safe and well on their travels and that they would be able to bring hope to the people they meet.’