Leyte Needs Love Trip Recap!

We knew the moment the plane landed in Tacloban that our lives would be forever changed by our time there. It was as if we had landed in a war zone. The airport was a mere shell of what it once was, now reduced to an open air pavilion. The once beautiful beaches were black with ocean muck. Coconut trees were broken off like twigs. Well-built beachside homes had been obliterated, as if by a wrecking ball. It seemed as if life had been removed from this place. It was very easy to get caught up in the hopelessness of it all. But it wasn't long before we saw a different picture - one of a faithful God and of His faithful remnant of people in that city.

Soon after our feet were on the ground, we met up with our host missionaries, John and Christi Wynn and David and Jill Coltrane. These families had recently endured the wrath of the typhoon and lived to tell about it. The Wynn's graciously allowed us to stay at Grace Baptist Church in Tacloban with dozens of church members who had lost their homes and were now finding a safe haven at the church. It did not take long to notice their faith in spite of this great trial. They were some of the most joyful people I have ever been privileged to meet. I remember many nights falling asleep to singing as a small group of them would praise God long into the night. They truly ministered to our souls and made this devastated place feel like a home.

From the first moment on, our team was ready and willing to help. The Wynn's and Coltrane's pointed us in the right direction, and everyone got right to work. Our team consisted of myself, my friend John Connolly (a professional photographer who took all of the powerful pictures), missionary Carl Gormley, and six of his faithful men from Calvary Baptist Church in San Jose del Monte. God blessed our every effort. Here are some of the ways God used the gifts you gave toward this effort:

  • Feeding and Clothing: We wanted to meet some immediate needs before tackling any rebuilding. It was very apparent that food was a shortage. Many families were surviving on inadequate relief goods or none at all. Working together with the Wynn's and Coltrane's, we devised a plan to provide food for all the church members of Grace Baptist Church, MacArthur Independent Baptist Church, and Bible Baptist Church. The relief also went to families that the church in MacArthur have been trying to reach through their C-Kids Bible Club ministry. Our team had the opportunity to assist in the distribution to these precious families. The people were incredibly grateful! All in all, we provided 3,600 pounds of rice, canned goods, and clothing. That's at least 8,500 family meals provided! To God be the glory!
  • Rebuilding: We heard story after story of those that had survived the storm. So many had lost their homes and possessions. We sought the Lord about who to help and how to help them. God led us to completely fund the rebuilding of three individual homes, providing manual labor ourselves, hired labor, and all the needed materials. The first was a widow woman and faithful church attender. The second was a faithful deacon in the church. The third was the Filipino pastor at Bible Baptist Church. His home and church building were both utterly destroyed. In addition, the Lord allowed us to help the homeless at MacArthur Independent Baptist Church. Several of their families were living in the church building, having lost their homes. Someone had provided the materials for their rebuilding already, so God allowed us to provide the labor cost to rebuild these homes. They praised God for your gift!
  • Laboring: We stayed busy! Honestly, we could have stayed for months and never run out of work. We were able to help with general cleanup, scooping black mud and muck out of the buildings and sorting through rubble to find what was worth salvaging. We took down several trees that had uprooted or fallen, cleared land covered with debris, and even built a fence that had broken down. We worked on some homes by replacing roofs and repairing existing structures.
  • Witnessing: The true highlights of our trip were the open doors God gave for the Gospel. The devastation of Leyte has touched everyone from rich to poor, from powerful to powerless. We found hearts ready to receive the hope of the Gospel during this dark time. On several occasions, we were able to minister house to house, visiting with people in what was left of their homes or in their temporary shelter. Hundreds heard the Gospel message as our team ministered in various communities. As we showed the love of Christ, God also opened up various doors for us to help families in need. Several monetary gifts were given in good faith as the Lord led. Families were fed, homes were rebuilt, but most of all, lives were changed. We praise God for two precious souls that gave testimony of their new-found faith in Christ!

These efforts would have never been accomplished without God's grace and your gifts. These efforts are not over. The task is far from complete! We have committed to continue to work alongside the Wynn's and Coltrane's to raise awareness of the continual needs in this place. Any future gifts given to our "Leyte Needs Love" project will be directed toward specific needs recommended to us by the missionaries on the ground in Tacloban. After my family is settled in the Philippines, we plan to return to Tacloban along with our team to further assist and encourage the churches and people of Leyte. Thank you for giving to God's work in this needy place. We are so thankful to have had this opportunity to serve God and extend your love to the people of Leyte!