These updates are in order from first (at bottom) to most recent (at top)
Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Relief Feb. 25, 2014
It has been almost two months since our last update and we wanted to let you know what has happened since then. I want to begin by trying the best I can to express our thanks for the many churches and individuals who have sacrificed beyond anything I ever dreamed in response to the many pastors and churches affected by this tragedy. We have had several large disasters such as Typhoon Frank in 2008 that killed over 600 people on our island and the fire on and around our property in 2006 that destroyed one of the boys dorms, four staff houses and 17 more homes in the neighborhood.
When this last disaster came I was almost embarrassed to mention it knowing many of you had helped before. I want to thank you for going beyond anything I could have expected and God has used your sacrifice to encourage these faithful and fruitful Christians here. What you have done has made a great difference in the churches here because they are looking forward and wanting to do more to get people saved and start more churches. Many of the pastors and workers have taken advantage of this terrible situation by doing all they can to win the hearts of those in their village. For years people in these villages who have been a hindrance to the gospel have become good to the Christians and even open to the Lord for the first time. The result of this is that many of the churches have grown even though they have lost a lot.
You have had a major part in not only rebuilding buildings and things lost in the typhoon but also in the most important part of this storm and that is the reaping of many precious souls. We know the economy has been very difficult for many churches and Christians who have helped us, and that is why all you have done means so much to me. I could go on and on but I still wouldn’t be able to find the right way to really say what is in my heart for all you have done.
The rebuilding of the churches and parsonages is still on going and it’s doing well for the most part. A lot of pastors have to wait because of the lack of carpenters available. There are just countess homes and other buildings that have to be rebuilt. Above, you can see the church of Pastor James DeJulian, destroyed. Below: being rebuilt, and finally having it finished enough to use it.
Next you can see the before and after pictures of the church of Pastor Marlon Bacarro.
I was able to visit the pastor whose wife died right after the typhoon, Artiem Herida. Almost the whole village came to her funeral. I have gone up into the mountains twice to visit him. He is such a good man.
The first picture below is of Brother Herida and his son. We had to go up on motorcycles to his place because the roads are so bad. The first trip I took up there was with Pastor Jay Reed (riding on a motorcycle on the muddy road) who also is the director of Global Baptist Church Planters. This ministry helped start the church of Brother Herida several years ago and now they are helping in the rebuilding. We were also able to help Pastor Herida with a lot of the medical, funeral, and other expenses he had. Later, BIMI's Far East Director, David Harris along with Bro. Don Arnold, BIMI photographer visited Bro. Herida with us as well. On a trip Ricky made there recently he was able to meet one of Brother Herida's pet lizards.
Typhoon Yolanda Relief Update Jan. 4, 2014
January 4, 2013
It’s been almost three weeks since our last update on the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.
Two of the many pastors who lost their homes are Jaime Eseleto and Isidro Panuga. You can see in the pictures below what is left.
At last count, 156 pastors have had their homes destroyed. We’ve been able to help an additional 26 others whose houses or churches suffered significant damage. The number of church buildings destroyed is at 119. The buildings of Pastors Eul Amante, Jerry Abolucian and Ruffian Balahay pictured below show the power of this storm.
By God’s grace and because of the sacrifice of many of you, a little over 100 of these buildings are being rebuilt.
In our first newsletter about the typhoon, there was a picture of Pastor Ernie Tarde’s building, which we’ve pictured again along with the progress being made on the new building. Even though it isn’t finished, it’s being used to the glory of God.
Christmas was a time of opportunity to reach people with the annual “Help the Needy” program and the Christmas Musical. We had the musical three nights with the choir, orchestra, and portrayal of Christ’s birth, using 15 different live animals, who were probably the best actors! There were sheep, goats, doves, rabbits, chickens and a cow. Sunday morning one of the sheep had a baby lamb. I didn’t even know she was pregnant! She was too tired to be in the program that night so we lost one of our “actors” as Becky insisted she have maternity leave. Someone said, “It could have been worse—she could have delivered during the program!”
Praise the Lord, there were many that got saved after the preaching those three nights.
The day after Christmas we had the Alumni Meeting and had a large turnout of Bible college graduates, especially from the area hit by the typhoon. The pastors affected by the typhoon were given a 106-pound sack of rice, Bibles, New Testaments, materials for their Bible institutes, a cash gift.
Words could never express the gratitude we have for your help for these pastors, their families, and their churches.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin
December 16th Typhoon Relief Update
Since the typhoon I have talked to many of the pastors who have lost so much and not one of them has acted discouraged or bitter, asking God why this happened to them. A lot of them have asked me if they could use the money we are giving them for their parsonages to help their church members instead. These good men humble me.
The police here in Iloilo City have worked day and night helping in the distribution of food for the typhoon victims. The people of our city are so thankful that they were spared from the storm and they are doing all they can to help people on the north side of our island. A week ago Sunday, we held our annual Police Appreciation Night. There were at least 241 officers present.
We honored another officer who died in the line of duty with her family present. The picture shows the
parents receiving a plaque with a police badge with the words “hero” on it. Photo below shows the father brushing
The chief of
police in our city attended and I was able to talk to him a long time after the service. He told me the first week after the typhoon he doesn’t
remember going to sleep as they were continually helping the victims. He was genuinely thankful for our church recognizing the
police. There were several officers who received Christ as Savior. You can see the pictures
of our workers witnessing to them. (two photos below)
This past Sunday night Pastor Michael Balinas spoke in our church and shared how God worked in the lives of his people during and after the storm. He said out of 300 houses in his village, 98% were destroyed. His message made us appreciate how God spared our city.
There have been 143 pastors who have lost their parsonages and more than 118 church buildings are
gone. Words cannot begin to express the appreciation we have for so many who have helped.
Iloilo Baptist Church is trying to give a 100 lb bag of rice to each of the pastors affected. We will give this out on December 20. We are trying to help the churches with items they lost like chairs or benches, musical instruments like guitars or keyboards, and songbooks. The pastors need clothing and other items as well.
Lastly please pray for our daughter-in-law Brandie, and her family, as her dad, Larry Lee, went to Heaven early this week. For 19 years Larry served as the song leader and choir director at his church. He was a soul winner and had a wonderful relationship with his best Friend, Jesus. A good friend who preaches in a lot of churches told me that Larry was the best song leader he’s ever known. He talked about how Larry made people feel so welcome in Calvary Baptist Church, Middleburg, Florida, pastored by Ken Pledger.
Typhoon Yolanda Update November 30th
November 30, 2013
(3 weeks after storm)
We’d like to ask prayer for one of our second year students, Rachel. Three days ago the body of her brother, who had been missing since the storm, was found. He had been fishing between the island of Negros and Panay. When the storm hit he was able to get to the fishing town of Estancia on our island and got his boat to higher ground and took cover. However the storm surge was so great that he was swept out to sea. His body was found in the next town 17 days later. We gave her some money and sent her home to bury him yesterday.
Please pray for the people of Capiz and Northern Iloilo Province as many of them including pastors, their families, and church members are sick in the aftermath of the storm—many of them are without shelter and medicine.
As of today we know of 141 pastors (graduates of Iloilo Baptist College and the men they have trained) who have lost their homes and 101 of their church buildings have been destroyed. A lot of the men pastor two churches and some had both church buildings destroyed, which probably means an additional 30 buildings. Those who lost both we’ve asked to just turn in one for now. If possible we’ll try to help with their second building later, if we are able.
I have talked to so many pastors. None of them are discouraged; none have asked why something like this has happened to them. Many times when I give them money for their parsonages they asked if they could use some of it to help their church members.
Pastor Pepito Didigan wrote the story below:
At noon when it started to rain I thought it was an ordinary typhoon but when the wind started blowing hard I was shocked. I started to panic when my wife and four daughters started crying. I saw the bamboo trees falling and there was a loud boom when the big acacia trees fell and shook the earth. I told my wife and kids to flee to the house of our cousin. There were 18 families there and all the women and children were crying. My cousin shared a piece of bread to each one there. The next morning I walked 5 kilometers to visit one of my churches. I cried when I saw it was totally destroyed. Everything inside, like our plastic chairs, was blown away. I thought I was dreaming until my oldest daughter embraced me. I saw she was also crying. One of my church members started running towards me, shouting and asking for help. We ran to the damaged house of her relative found the dead bodies of two of her sons. One by one the church members came to me, asking what happened. They said, “Pastor, is it the end of time? Or is this the curse of God because man has forgotten Him? I answered, “No, God is good. He is a loving God. This is just a trial and we must ask God to give us strength to overcome.”
Another story by Pastor Jerome Jeruta:
A day before the storm, the Bureau of Fire Protection announced that our area would have a signal number 4 typhoon (the highest) so we made some preparations. On Friday morning the weather was fair. The sad thing was, some people assumed the typhoon had already passed and went about their chores and jobs, not knowing it was yet to come. Around noon it got dark and the wind blew hard. I moved my family to a safer place. The wind kept getting worse and we watched trees and roofs blow away. It was violent. For five straight hours the storm beat on our place and most houses were destroyed and many people killed. When it was over we saw that our church and house was destroyed. Some of our people started crying when they saw the church. We were all traumatized. My concern is how long will it take for these poor families to recover? They have no homes and they have no livelihood to survive. Many lost family members. My prayer is that God will restore our church and our hearts. I am so thankful for God’s protection.
Becky and I appreciate so much those of you who are praying, and those who are helping these pastors financially. We know it is a bad time—it is almost Christmas, and the economy hasn’t been good for a long time. We are so grateful for each and every gift and giver.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin
November 23rd (13 days after typhoon)
November 19, 2013 Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Update
Not too long ago we told the story of Pastor Michael Balinas, who was lost at sea for many days. His parsonage and church: Golden Valley Baptist Church in Sara:
November 15, 2013 Typhoon Relief Update
Thursday morning at 5:00 am, Ricky and nine others (three were policement) took three jeepneys loaded with 4,000 lbs of rice and canned goods and about 400 lbs of used clothing to the devastated town of Concepcion, two hours away. Once there they rented a large boat, loaded up all the goods, and took off for four islands that were hard hit by Thphoon Yolanda. All the goods were given to pastors (IBC graduates) who distributed them to the people on their islands.
A lot of people have asked how they can help. Right now the biggest need is for materials to build houses and churches for the graduates of Iloilo Baptist College. For their houses they need materials like bamboo and GI roofing.
We are trying to give $235 to each pastor who had their house
destroyed. This would help them build a very small house with light materials. They desperately need shelter. Later we hope to give them some more help to extend the size of the
house if possible.
Presently most of those who had their church buildings destroyed are meeting in the open air. They can build the shell for a small building with about $1,000 worth of materials. Later the church can finish the building and even extend it if need be.
As of this writing we know of 95 houses and 91 church buildings destroyed. The pastors are being asked if possible to bring a picture of their house or church building. We have pictures of almost all of the destroyed houses and church buildings that we are trying to rebuild. At this time we are asking pastors not to turn in the damage they had unless their house or church is totally damaged. There are many buildings that suffered significant damage but at this point we are emphasizing the worst ones.
November 14, 2013
(5 days after storm)
Asking prayer for Ricky & our workers as they take jeep loads of food/supplies to the devastated areas north of us. They took police with them & also a TV crew in hopes that more help can be stirred up for these poor people. All eyes are on Tacloban, & we understand that of course, but there are starving people here too. We can't help people in Tacloban--it's clear across the country on a different island, but we can help the people in our area. No one is aware because there isn't any communication, travel is impossible, etc. Thank you for caring!-
November 13, 2013 Update
Yesterday, Richard Lontoc, one of the pastors on our staff, came back from a trip with another worker to four islands including his home on the island of Bagongon. With tears in his eyes, he told us of the awful destruction on his island.
He said, “When the people saw us coming on the boat, they rushed down to the shore. They were so excited to see us coming. They thought we were from the government or one of the
non-government organizations (NGO). They thought we were bringing them food and supplies. When they
saw that we didn’t have anything with us, they cried.”
At least four small islands very near the coast of Panay island in the path of the typhoon (where we have graduates that have started churches) were hard hit: Bagongon, where three IBC pastors have started a church, Salvacion, where one IBC graduate has started a church, Polopena, where three IBC pastors have started a church, and Pan de Azucar, where eight IBC pastors have started churches. Pan de Azucar has about 7,000 people on it and is where we held our church camps for many years.
A great majority of the people on these islands are fishermen. They are very hard working and self-reliant but the storm has smashed their boats to pieces or even lifted them inland. Some can’t even find their boats, so they are unable to fish. Richard and the other workers we sent out to visit these places had a hard time even finding a boat to take them to the islands.
I met with our staff members as there are 10 of them that have families in the hardest hit regions, which are the provinces of northern Iloilo and Capiz. We have confirmed that eight of their homes have been totally destroyed. One is ok. One doesn’t know and has gone there to find out and isn’t back yet. Our church has raised the money already for six of those houses for the parents of our staff and they plan to work on the other two as soon as possible.
The storm hit Friday; that means thousands of people have been without shelter and dry clothes since then. More important, they need food. They have been scrambling to find anything edible. The trees have been sheared off. There are almost no bananas, coconuts, fruit or vegetables. Rice crops have been ruined. With no electricity, money, and cell phone towers down, they can’t even ask for help.
I stay here everyday trying to coordinate things as pastors and others come in. We are trying to give the pastors money to build a small home made of lightweight materials as they and their families need shelter. It isn’t enough to complete the home but enough to provide for part of the home and hopefully they can add on a room later. We are also giving them money to buy food for their families and some of the church members. I constantly meet with our already exhausted staff planning how we can help more people.
November 11, 2013 - Devastating Typhoon
“10,000 DEAD, MISSING” is the headline on this mornings’ paper, The Philippine Star, dated November 11, 2013