Monday, November 11, 2013

Storm Preparedness -- Prayers For & Lessons From the Philippines' Typhoon Haiyan

In the aftermath of the storm that recently ravaged the Philippines (Nov. 8, 2013), stories began to emerge that People Magazine described as "stories of horror and hope.” I found it almost hard to read the details the first couple of days of what would turn out to be hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and more than 5000 lives lost. Together with the church, we lifted up in prayer those who were hardest hit, distributed details for how to help (also available at the bottom of this blog), and thanked God for victories like the babies that were born in the chaos – literally “in the midst of the storm.”

The headlines were gripping and brought to mind God's frequent use of storm imagery to illustrate both promises and warnings in His Word. (For you have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. Is 25:4).

One particular story of an area that sustained minimal damage and no deaths – and WHY this was the case – made me particularly interested. It was the one area you’d think would have been hit the HARDEST, but it was actually almost untouched – and even remained continuously functional during the storm, serving as an uninterrupted source of support to the surrounding community: The Tacloban Seaport. And why? According to the seaport manager, “Credit goes largely to a Philippine Ports Authority manual called 'Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures …During Inclement Weather,'” which he refers to as “our Bible.”

Local authorities from other devastated areas were criticized for “failing to adequately prepare” and left devastated by the storm. The Port Manager however, began to respond the minute he heard there might be trouble, implementing what he said he “memorized” from his “Bible." He not only limited the damage, but also enabled quick and near-complete restoration after the storm – allowing the port to do more than SURVIVE, but to immediately SERVE.

Right after the storm, the port opened for military vessels and ships providing aid. Almost the ONLY aid, which was crucial because “more help arrives by sea and less by air in the first few days after the crisis."

How much is this a direct image of our responsibility as Christians in the midst of a broken world? The need to be prepared before a storm hits – “memorizing” the instructions in our literal Bible with even more passion than the Port Manager studied the procedures in his guide. How immediately must we react at the first sign that our enemy the Devil is throwing some “inclement weather” our way? How important is it for us to not just know what we “should” do, but to take intentional steps to get our “port” in order? All of these things, not only keep our own lives in safe, minimal-damage conditions – but allow us to serve and support as Christ's hands and feet when the world around us is falling apart and in need of aid. This is our blessing and our responsibility -- keeping us in safe harbor AND serving as the vessels that allow His aid to Reach others. We never know the storms that are brewing in lives all around us. Be ready "in any season" (2 Tim 4:2)  to be His strength to those He sends your way.

If you’d like prayer for any of the recent circumstances, have other needs, or want to know more about how you can help, contact the church office at New Venture (760 721 7777). We also recommend some of the below trusted world aid organizations.

God bless you as you search His “instruction manual,” withstand the storms, and love and serve your neighbors in any weather.

Jesus With You,
Pastor Shawn

Philipines Red Cross –

Unicef –

Doctors Without Borders --