Friday, December 27, 2013

Surviving the Super-Typhoon! (OJT Report, part 2b)

“The storm that hit the island made a wave for Jesus and filled the whole church!”

So what were the 2 students going to do after the super-typhoon came through their area and caused devastation and destruction everywhere it went? 

Keep reading!

What a great challenge lay ahead of them! They had no power, no water, soaked materials and devastation all around them, plus much more! The church members couldn’t help them because all were living far away from them and all the roads were blocked with fallen trees. When they tried to make contact with others through calling, it wouldn’t go through. Amazingly enough, all the text messages they kept sending me throughout the day came through and they received mine, as well. But there was SO much to do!

Obviously, they couldn’t start that night [the same day the typhoon hit]! The next morning (Sabbath), they still met for church and told the church members they would try to start their seminar the following night and encouraged everyone to come. They had no generator and their laptops didn’t work at all. Their host told them no one would come to the seminar because everyone was busy fixing their houses and cleaning everything up. Sunday came and they decided that one of them would cross over to the main island and get some assistance from the other PAFCOE team located on that island. The other stayed to prepare everything for their target starting date (Sunday night).

Imagine the work there was to do! Cleaning up, drying things out and so much more! The one who was left on the island to clean and prepare prayed earnestly that her partner would make it back to their place by 3 pm so they could start the program that night as planned. All day, she worked hard and in the afternoon went to the seashore to see if her partner was coming back. Upon not seeing her, she went to their house and prayed again that God would send her soon.

While the one student was on the boat going to other island, she saw 2 beautiful rainbows stretched across the ocean before her. She remembered the story of Noah and how God promised that He would not send another flood again. It brought such comfort to her to know that God was telling her that there would be no more typhoons while they were doing their OJT.

At 3:00 pm, she arrived back at the island! Two volunteer missionaries came with her and a generator, too! They borrowed a laptop to use for the meetings. Though they were 2 nights late, they started their program amidst all the trials and challenges. Because they had the only power in the island (or at least in that place), once it was dark, the little SDA church was the only lighted building in that whole area!

Since most of the people had completely lost their homes, some moved right into the church and just as the song at the beginning said, the storm that hit that island really did make a wave for Jesus by bringing in people to the church (literally!)!

Because they had the only generator in the area and people wanted to charge their cell phone and flashlights, many would come to the meetings just to charge their devices. Of course, they wouldn’t leave their gadgets there for fearing of someone stealing them, so they ended up getting their souls charged as well as their devices! The church was full every single night – full of people hungry to hear the Word of God.
The little lighted church.

Before they had been told the area was full of people with hard hearts who weren’t interested in the Bible, but after the storm came through, everything was changed! Many, many people heard the messages from God’s Word because even if they didn’t sit in the church, they could hear the sermon from their homes since all was dark and quiet everywhere else. 

That first week was a real challenge! But God saw them through every difficulty that crossed their path! Food became a problem since all the plants and vegetables had been blown away in the terrible winds. The price of food went sky-high and for awhile, the students wondered if they might go hungry. But God always provided just enough and never once did they go hungry! God took care of them!

During the 2nd week of their time there, help from different organizations came to give assistance to those who were affected. Relief goods were distributed to the people. One old Grandma visited the students one day and asked why their church hadn’t given anything to the people like the other churches who were giving the relief goods. The students explained that they had been giving things to the people – not material things, but spiritual blessings. Someone later told them, “It’s because of your prayers and you praying for us that the relief goods arrived. The others care about our physical needs, but no one prayed for us. Ever since the storm hit, you have visited us in our homes and prayed for us and that’s what we appreciate the most.”

Yes, sometimes people value a kind, caring, praying friend more than a person who gives them food or clothes. It makes a difference to know someone is praying for you! And that’s what the students found on their island.

During the 3rd week, they experienced trials with their electronics. Because the generator was old, sometimes it would just quit in the middle of the presentation. But after they prayed that God would make it work again, it did! Also, they began to realize that the money in their budget would very soon be gone from paying the high prices of the gasoline for the generator every night. What would they do?
The children who came to the children's program every night.
They started trying to call their friends to ask them for financial help, but their calls would never go through. They tried so many times and never could reach anyone and were getting concerned. Finally they were able to contact several of their classmates who sent some money to help with the gasoline expenses.

One night as they were walking home in the dark after the meeting, J2 had a terrible stomachache. Her partner was walking ahead and she called out to her and asked her to wait up. J1 did and just then a motorcycle came by and shone his headlights on the road before them. Right in front of J1 was a huge snake. If she had not stopped just then, she would likely have stepped on the snake and gotten bitten. God was certainly keeping them safe!

Even the last week they had challenges, and yet more ways to see God work for them! Many people around them got sick, but God helped them be strong and healthy the whole time. After the typhoon hit the city of Tacloban (another island), some of the prisoners escaped from their cells and began roaming around, looking for trouble and mischief to get into.

Still smiling, even after the storm!
Unfortunately, some of them found their way to that island and of course, everyone was scared that something bad would happen to them. It was another way for the devil to try to keep people from attending the meetings. There was still no electricity anywhere, so the parents were especially cautious to send their children to the nightly children’s program. The students prayed earnestly for protection and the people still kept attending, though the numbers were fewer than before.

Yet despite the challenges, God still triumphed and at the end of that one month, more than 10 souls accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and were baptized! The storm was what it took for the people in that island to be interested in the gospel.

J2 summed it all up when she said this: “Be still. Fear not. Keep going even when it’s tough. Whatever disturbances there may be around you, fix your eye upon the Lord. He always will deliver! Victory is always sure in Him!

And when J1 and J2 returned to PAFCOE to share their experiences, they were glowing with smiles of what God had done through them! Both were so thankful that they had gone through the challenges with God’s grace right beside them! As one of them said, “I love the work!”

No matter the challenging circumstances around you, God can still use them to bring about His plan!

More exciting stories soon to come!