Philippines: Church Celebrates Christmas

It was early November when I arrived in the Philippines, and much to my surprise they were celebrating Christmas in full force!

Decorated trees were everywhere and some of our favorite holiday jingles played on the radio.

It was a dichotomy for my brain… in light of the recent typhoon, how can people be so happy?

The spirit of Christmas was very present in the Filipino people, and so was the love of Jesus.

The Real Heroes

The Filipinos are a beautiful, resilient and resourceful people. Their generosity toward one another is inspiring. The way they give everything they have to help their neighbor is beautiful.

If only these images could be seen on the news. However, the spirit of generosity is not as easy to capture by media as the debris.

But, hope is the glory that rises out of devastation and destruction. It is where love is present, like “beauty from ashes.”

I could look past the piles of rubble, and see the splendor of humanity at its best. The Church is alive and well, and the spirit of kindness was displayed by the people.

In a small church in Alan Town (Northern Samar), people gathered to pack more than 1,000 food bags for a one week supply of food for Typhoon Haiyan survivors. Glad Tidings church hosted food packing events and aided in distributions immediately following the typhoon.

They continued to serve their neighbor community by hosting volunteer trainings for Child Friendly Spaces (CFS). Pastor Orlee’s face reveals his pain as he tells me, “It is heartbreaking for us, as we lessen the pain for them.”  He is deeply affected by the loss suffered by his neighbors in Basey and Marabut.

The Beauty of Partnership

Food for the Hungry (FH) joins God where He is already at work. To be apart of God’s story for recovering communities is an amazing privilege. We know that we are not the main character; Jesus is, and that it is His love we extend as we walk with churches, leaders, and families in overcoming poverty.

In humility, we recognize we play a supporting role in what He does through the local community people.

The Filipino church network already had boots on the ground immediately following the typhoon (and even before  it hit landfall). The churches provided shelter during the storm, packed food for distribution, and provided local volunteers to train in trauma recovery for children.

In the wake of destruction, Filipino churches were fast at work delivering food, water and rescuing victims.

That is the beauty of church partnerships. FH works through local partners who know their communities and understand the needs.

With Christ at the center, the local church is working day and night aiding in the relief efforts, as FH provides the resources and expertise where needed. We come alongside and hold up the local leaders in their God-given role to support their community; not stepping over or on them, but walking with them.

With a Heart for Children

In an effort to help the children affected by Typhoon Haiyan, FH has set up Child Friendly Spaces. We are aiming to establish 14 centers in Marabut and Basey. Each center supports the emotional well-being of 120 children.

Staffed by local volunteers, FH provides training, psycho-social support, and supplies to help children reestablish normalcy and overcome trauma.

To support our Child Friendly Space initiative, you can make a donation today at fh.org/storm:

$1,900 sets up one center, $80 sends a child for three months, and$30 provides the hygiene kit and school supplies.

Our staff share God’s heart for children. The protection of children is at the heart of what FH does in our work worldwide. We believe that caring for children is an opportunity and an obligation for parents, community leaders and churches to play their God-given role in children’s lives.

Through child sponsorship, you have the opportunity to support the work of FH by providing churches, leaders and families the support they need to be everything that God calls them to be in the lives of children.  Rose Oximas, FH/Philippines staff,  states it like this, “Every child has the right to reach their God-given potential, and sponsorship supports this right.”

Join us in the story…sponsor a child today!

 

About Heidi Heinrich

Heidi Heinrich, church relationship manager for Food for the Hungry's community-to-community (C2C) program, got her start with Food for the Hungry as a volunteer. She began promoting child sponsorship after being incredibly moved to "just do something" about the poverty she had seen while serving internationally on a team. A mother of two adult children who are pursuing their life's work in serving the poor, Heidi attributes their passion to the impression made through child sponsorship. "It has been a journey." she says, "It all began by sponsoring a child in Bangladesh that led to serving on a team. I am very grateful for the experiences God has given me through sponsorship." She also enjoys art and music, and she is finishing her degree in Human Development through Hope International University.

, , , , ,