Southern Baptists begin relief efforts


By Caroline Anderson

CEBU, Philippines--Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines on Friday, leaving thousands devastated and cut off from food, water and any outside communication.

International Mission Board personnel have met to discuss disaster relief plans and will travel into disaster-stricken areas to assess needs and distribute food and water.

In the coming days, IMB missionaries hope to travel to Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province and the hardest-hit area. Right now, access to the eastern side of Leyte is not possible.

IMB missionary Stan Smith says Baptist Global Response relief teams are poised and ready to bring aid once travel into Tacloban is possible.

Tacloban City’s airport suffered extensive damage, making access to the area extremely difficult. Roads and bridges are demolished in many areas. Many relief teams have been unable to access Tacloban City. On Sunday, CNN reports, the airport road was cleared and helicopters began making regular flights.

Cell phone towers are down.

The government in the Philippines has confirmed 151 people have died so far. The number is expected to be much higher – some sources say the death toll could be as high as 10,000.

On Sunday, IMB missionary Mark Moses met with key national leaders on the island of Panay and discussed relief plans.

Food and clean water are urgent needs in many remote areas on the island of Panay.

Moses purchased bags of rice and canned goods using BGR funds. Moses and his team plan to pack the goods into family-sized portions. On Monday, he will travel north into the interior of the island of Panay into areas where he has church partnerships. He will distribute the food in these areas and do an assessment of further needs.

On Tuesday, Moses will travel east along Panay’s coastline, assessing needs and passing out packets of food.

“Currently, we still have no communications with these areas; electrical lines and communication towers are still down,” Moses said. “Hopefully by tomorrow, some roads will be passable so we can reach them.”

Moses said after assessments are completed, BGR funds will be used to help Filipinos rebuild their homes. Funds will also be used to purchase basic medicine.  

Moses said the province of Antique is a priority area for aid relief. The center of the typhoon passed through this area and the only road leading to this area is most likely washed out. Moses said it will take him several days to get in to this area.

“As I see pictures of the devastation in Leyte and Samar, specifically Tacloban City, the destruction here is not as desperate as it is along the eastern coast of the Philippines,” Moses said.

“Still, for anyone who has a house that’s been destroyed, it’s serious.”

The houses Moses has seen in his area that are destroyed are made of lightweight materials like bamboo.

Life in Iloilo City is starting to slowly return to normal, but for many in the Philippines normalcy is nowhere in sight.

“In the interior, closer to where the center of the storm passed, families are still struggling to recover from one of the worst natural disasters they have ever experienced,” Moses said.

Downed trees litter the streets of Cebu City and many families are without roofs. Smith said the sun was shining today in Cebu City and people have started the recovery process.

Smith said he prayed for a softening of the impact of the typhoon. In the southern part of Cebu Island, that prayer was answered.

“We are so thankful to God’s grace and in softening the impact here,” Smith said.

The damage is more extensive in northern Cebu.

Smith says 90 percent of the homes in one of their ministry areas in northern Cebu were destroyed.

The island of Bohol has weathered two disasters, October’s deadly earthquake and now Typhoon Haiyan. Smith spoke Sunday morning with a ministry partner from Bohol about continued plans for rebuilding after the earthquake and how to meet needs from Friday’s typhoon.

Smith asks that in the coming days, “we will just stay tuned to what the Lord wants us to be uniquely doing.”

Please pray:

Pray for safety as IMB missionaries and Filipino believers travel to disaster areas.

Pray for wisdom as they make plans for bringing disaster relief.

Pray for opportunities for IMB missionaries and national believers to share their faith.

Pray for the thousands who are grieving the loss of loved ones.

Your donations will make a difference in the Philippines. Your financial gifts will provide food, clean water and building materials for Filipinos.

Donations to help with the disaster response can be made here:

Updates on Baptist Global Response relief efforts can be monitored on Twitter: Facebook and on

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