This past Saturday, typically a day of worship for Seventh-day Adventists, church members in the typhoon-affected areas of Leyte province gathered together to praise the Lord for protection while reminding one another that their friends and relatives who didn't survive the storm will be given life again by the Creator.
Some, like Gail Hoylar’s relatives on Bantayan island, gathered amid the debris of their churches. In a moving Facebook post, she writes, "Inside a barely covered church, surrounded by trees thrown in the ground; remnants of their homes scattered all over; a calm blue sea behind, the same waters that surged and covered almost half of the entire island few days before; amidst makeshift huts for shelter; my grandparents, close relatives, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ gather to worship God on this day of rest."
Joward Blaza, an Adventist district pastor caring for 20 churches in northern Ilo-ilo, shared from Sua Adventist church via text on Saturday morning that “We [they] are alright by God's grace. We set up a big canvass to provide us a roof since our church is damaged by the storm. We are now about to listen to a message before we distribute some relief goods to the brethren." The church in Sua is located beside the sea in the town of San Dionisio, northern Ilo-ilo. This church is totally damaged.
Ervin Mandalupa, treasurer of the church in east Visayas headquartered in Tacloban reported in a text message, "We had our worship at the office building because the church is dirty and muddy. Thanks for your prayers; we are all fine and trying to stand again."
It’s unimaginable what these Adventist members went through while braving one of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines. For them, in every moment they dig through the pile of debris to salvage what they can and in every effort they put in rebuilding their houses, they carry the sure knowledge of a God who promised to never leave them through the storms in life. In spite of the devastation, in spite of the harrowing memories, in spite of all the sorrow and death, this truth encourages them to look forward to the day in heaven when catastrophes here on earth will only be in their faintest memories and one day long forgotten. [Gay Deles]