Coming Through Disaster: An update on Philippines relief

Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford.
The scene of the disaster. (Photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford.)

PHILIPPINES – On November 8, 2013, a devastating typhoon rocked the Philippines. Destruction was widespread throughout the country. More than 6,000 people were killed and 4 million people were displaced. Members of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) did not escape unscathed. Three LCP churches were severely damaged—“one totally flattened,” noted the LCP’s President James Cerdeñola at the time—and countless people were left homeless, both members of the church and their neighbours.

Following the typhoon, the Lutheran Church in the Philippines reacted quickly, sending their emergency response teams to help those in some of the hardest hit areas. Relief focused on immediate needs—like food provision and temporary shelter—as well as long-term needs, like rebuilding homes and livelihood projects. And the work continues.

It’s work that has been noticed by people in wider society as well. “When I went to these areas and talked to the people—not only among our members but also the people in the community—they were saying so many good things,” President Cerdeñola explained, “things like: ‘When the Lutherans give, they give not only to their members but also to the people in the community.’”

“It gives us an opportunity to be known as a church—as a church that cares, a church that loves” President Cerdeñola continued. “And as those great gifts were given, the Word was preached.”

Left photo courtresy of Lutheran Church in the Philippines. Right photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford..
Distributing goods and rebuilding homes. (Left photo courtesy of Lutheran Church in the Philippines. Right photo courtesy of LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford).

The LCP was aided in its relief work through the support of a number of International Lutheran Council churches. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) offered $100,000 USD in immediate aid, though its contributions have since risen to more than $528,400 USD in aid for the Philippines. That number includes grants the LCMS pledged to make to match donations from ILC members and other partner churches that were directed through LCMS World Relief. The American Association of Lutheran Churches, the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile, Japan Lutheran Church, the Silesian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession, and the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark all responded, and together raised more than $20,200 USD for relief work in the Philippines.

Because of legal restrictions in their countries, a number of other churches sent contributions directly to the Philippines. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England raised more than $4,750 USD in relief, while the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany raised more than $130,300 USD in relief. In total, then, ILC members and partner churches have contributed more than $683,650 USD for relief work in the Philippines to date, in addition to the money and man-power the Lutheran Church in the Philippines has itself offered.

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Mathew Block

Mathew Block is Communications Manager for the International Lutheran Council. He is also editor of The Canadian Lutheran magazine, and formerly served as Communications Manager for Lutheran Church–Canada.

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