CEBU, Philippines (BP) — Southern Baptists spent all of Monday Nov. 18 packing relief kits for the inhabitants of Gibitngil Island in the Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan swept over the island, leaving the community battered and without easy access to relief supplies.
Students from a local university and church members of the International Southern Baptist Church of Cebu assembled the kits in the church’s sanctuary. The relief kits were scheduled to be distributed today (Nov. 20).
World Hunger Funds, distributed by Baptist Global Response, were used to purchase rice, canned meat, sugar, powdered milk, ramen noodles and Nescafe for the kits. These supplies are enough food for a household for one week.
Twelve students from the Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary in Baguio City, Luzon, arrived in Cebu City to help with the aid efforts.
Alexis Mendoza is studying missiology at the seminary. She said their team will provide counseling for typhoon survivors.
Mendoza and her classmates helped pack relief kits before boarding a boat to Leyte Island.
“Pray over each bag,” IMB missionary Dottie Smith told the volunteers.
Susan Stokeld, a Baptist Global Response project director, said the kits “will help those who have nothing.”
Dwain Carter, from Freshwater Church in Jefferson City, Mo., and Michael Beasley, from Trimble Baptist Church in Trimble, Mo., traveled with BGR partner Adore Sabido to Gibitngil on Nov. 16 and 17 to assess needs. Carter and Beasley were part of a BGR rapid assistance team.
Carter, who is the disaster relief strategist for the Missouri Baptist Convention, said there are 449 families on the island in need of water and food. Right now, the island’s only water source is rainwater.
After building rapport with the village leader, plans were put in place for the relief kits and for volunteer teams to help the community rebuild.
Carter said all of the roofs on village homes, except for the roof on the village leader’s house, were gone. The school on the island also was damaged.
Carter said the village leader initially seemed skeptical of the team.
“What if we bring enough food for one meal for everyone on the island?” Carter asked the village leader.
Carter said the leader’s eyes widened and his heart softened.
After touring the island and seeing the battered school building, Carter asked the school’s principal if a volunteer team would be helpful in rebuilding the school.
“She was overjoyed that we would come and work,” Carter said. “What a way to reach the entire island … and show them Christ’s love.”
Ben Wolf said, “It’s a place that nobody else is going,” Wolf and his wife Pam are the directors for BGR work in the Asia Rim. “We want to touch the fringes where no one else has gone.”
Caroline Anderson writes for the International Mission Board from Asia.