Philippines (MNN) – The Philippines are reeling after the one-two-punch of typhoons and then the sucker punch from a volcanic eruption. Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri, the international name) struck at the beginning of December, making landfall as the equivalent of a Category 4 Atlantic Hurricane. The storm affected 7,364, but damage estimates are running in excess of $67 million. That was followed three weeks later by Typhoon Ursula (Phanphone, the international name), which made landfall on Christmas Eve as a Category 1 hurricane. Compassion identified the affectedas 604 beneficiaries and seven Child Development Centers (CDCs). Ursula ripped apart houses, businesses, churches, roads, and government buildings, killing at least 50. What's more, this storm affected almost the same areas hit by Tisoy: Visayas and Luzon, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Biliran, Aklan, Oriental Mindoro, Iloilo, and Antique.First,
Impact on Compassion in the PhilippinesFor safety reasons, Compassion decided to halt many of its operations during the final weeks of December. Compassion spokesman Mark Pitoc, speaking to MNN from the Philippines, says, "It was tough in the first days, because some of our partnership facilitators, their houses were ruined. But it's because of the love for these children that brought us to reach out (to) those children that we are taking care of." As for the storms' survivors, Pitoc says, "Some of them were relocated, but already returned to their houses, electricity has been restored. It's just that some areas were flooded, their houses were ruined, and even their livelihood was devastated. But little by little, everything (the infrastructure) has been restored now."
Another disasterThen on January 12, the Taal Volcano erupted (37 miles south of the capital city of Manila), spewing tons of ash and lava. Over the last five days, seismologists recorded more than 300 earthquakes in the area. "According to the government, it's still in level four alert—(it) means that the volcano is still active. We received some reports that five cities and municipalities in Batangas where the volcano is located were forced evacuation." The difficulty is in knowing when people can return home. Taal is notoriously temperamental; it's the second most active volcano in the Philippines, with 34 recorded historical eruptions. Experts warn future volcano eruptions could cause tsunami. The volcano could rumble for days, but not blow. It could also explode magma and lava tomorrow. There's no way to tell for sure, which makes the waiting interminable.
A cup of cold water in Jesus' namePitoc says while they don't have church partners in Batanga, nearest the volcano, they are mobilizing a response. "We bought some items like diapers, clothes, towels, sanitary napkins, all the stuff that they need. We already bought it." That shipment will go out in the next couple of days. A church pastor serving in Batanga with Asian Accesssays the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches opened its training center to the evacuees until authorities send the 'all-clear.' The triple disasters are particularly difficult from which to recover, although the Filipinos are resilient. In the aftermath, pray:
- For children and family members who have been injured or displaced.
- For those who have lost loved ones, that God would comfort them.
- For church staff and emergency workers as they reach out to those affected by these disasters.
USA (MNN) -- This Sunday, January 19 is National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the United States. It’s close to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. Life Matters Worldwide is one of many ministries working to end abortion and support women in crisis pregnancies. Eric Verstraete, President of Life Matters, says they want to address a specific concern in the pro-life movement: loneliness.
Loneliness in Crisis PregnanciesFor women and men facing crisis pregnancies, abortion is a desperate decision. Most women seeking abortion are scared and feel very alone. Verstraete encourages the Church to remember that the goal of pro-life ministry is not just to end abortion, but to love these lonely, scared women and be Jesus to them. “Abortion is a horrible thing that happens in our country day-in and day-out. But behind this decision is a story,” Verstraete reminds. “Each one of us has a story and each person who's struggling with thinking about having an abortion also has a story.
“So as [we] begin to think about life, think about the people behind the stories. Think about people who are hurting, who are trying to decide right now whether or not to have an abortion. Each one of those people has value.”
Loneliness in MinistryLife Matters discovered there is also great loneliness among pro-life workers. “We recently did a survey and we found that of the folks that we have the privilege of working with, about 60 percent of those who responded to our survey said that they feel lonely in ministry. To me, this just cannot happen. These frontline warriors who day-in and day-out are putting themselves in the fray to really stand for life, they feel lonely, they feel like they're not connected and that's a problem.” Their solution is two-fold. First, Life Matters is working to better support and connect pro-life workers and pregnancy care centers. “We want to individually get out to these pregnancy care centers and actually do training with them, spiritually equipping them, teaching them how to better and more effectively share the Gospel, but then also bringing them together in unity with staff,” Verstraete says. “When they have unity with staff, they as individuals are going to be more healthy. And a healthier individual is going to be more effective in sharing the Gospel. And when that happens, we believe that more babies are going to be saved.” Second, Life Matters wants to help more local churches link arms with their local pregnancy care centers and pro-life ministries.
“We want them to be praying for these life-honoring ministries. We want them to be learning about them, telling other people about them, serving alongside them, and then giving financially if that's appropriate.”
Loneliness in the ChurchFinally, the flip-side to valuing life from conception is also valuing life in the margins. Often, this looks like the terminally ill, chronically ill, and elderly. Verstraete says these groups struggle with loneliness too and often feel forgotten, even by the Church. That’s why Life Matters also has a program called LIFT (Living in Faith Together). LIFT assists churches in practically and spiritually caring for the elderly and terminally or chronically ill in their congregations. Verstraete says, “If we're going to value life at the beginning, we have to value life at the end and we have to show churches how better to connect with that population. “When we show them value, when we show them worth and you see people connecting with them, I hear time and time again that people go to minister to these elderly folks, and it's them -- the ones who are thinking that they're going to serve -- that actually get served.”
Pray and Reach OutAs we approach National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, please pray for the Church to be united in affirming the God-given value of all life from conception to death. Ask God to uplift women and men facing crisis pregnancies, pro-life ministry workers, and the elderly and terminally/chronically ill in our churches. Pray for opportunities to minister to one of these groups and let them know they are not alone and they are loved. Header photo courtesy of Lucas Myers via Unsplash.
USA (MNN) -- Theologian John Wesley once said, “You have one business on earth – to save souls.” That’s exactly what e3 Partners wants to help Christians do. When it comes to participating in the Great Commission, sometimes it’s hard for believers to know where to start. Or maybe they want to do more for the Kingdom, but don’t know what exactly. Jeff Johnston with e3 Partners says, “We believe that the local Church is the vehicle through which God can reach the whole world. We know that God ultimately can do all of this without us, but He allows us to be a part of it and we're grateful for that. “Whatwe're trying to do is to help mobilize the local Church to be those laborers in the harvest -- to be the people that are going out and sharing the Gospel with people, discipling people, [and] raising up more disciples and leaders for Christ.” In their ‘coming alongside’ model, e3 Partners offers several resources for congregations that want to partner with them. “We have things like Gospel trainings where we train congregations on how to share the Gospel in a quick and effective way. We train them on how to share their own testimonies and how to start Bible studies with other people and start discipling people,” Johnston says. “We also take mission trips all over the world. We can take a mission trip with a church group or with several church groups or with just a bunch of different people to really any place that they feel passionate about.” They also send out long-term missionaries -- many of whom went on an e3 Partners mission trip or come from churches that work with the ministry. Another way e3 Partners supports churches in the Great Commission is through prayer. The ministry and their friends dedicate time every day to pray for Gospel workers. Johnston says their inspiration comes from Jesus’s words to the disciples in Luke 10:2. “He says, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.' So...we set alarms on our phones at 10:02 am every day and we pray to God every day to raise up more laborers for his harvest field.” Are you ready to take that first step and go deeper in God’s mission around the world? “If you have a passion for reaching your own neighborhood, if you have a passion for a particular country across the world, whatever it may be, we would love for you to join with us and get involved in reaching people.” You can learn more about e3 Partners’ Gospel trainings here! To check out mission trips with e3 Partners, click here! And you can also advance the Kingdom by supporting e3 Partners financially here! Finally, no matter how you choose to get involved, Johnston presents a request anyone can do: “I would just ask everyone to pray. We would love for as many people as possible to join us at 10:02 am every day. Set an alarm on your own phone or your calendar or wherever it may be and just pray to God every day at 10:02 am asking Him to continue raising up more laborers for the harvest.” If saving souls is truly our one business on earth, then there can be nothing more important than linking arms with fellow believers to pursue God’s call. Header photo courtesy of Pixabay.
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