These updates are in order from first (at bottom) to most recent (at top)

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Relief Feb. 25, 2014

Dear friends,

 

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.

We also helped Pastor Ruel Abellano.  Around the time of the typhoon he took his 14-year-old son to the doctor and found out that he had cancer.  His condition worsened very quickly.  He was such a good boy.  He had told his dad that when he was older he was going to be a pastor like him. When Ruel was in Bible School here at IBC he was a really good worker and student.  We helped with his son’s medicine as he was in such great pain.  He went home to be with the Lord about a month ago.  We were also able to help with some of the funeral expenses.

Pastor Leodivico Ayo
Pastor Leodivico Ayo

Pastor Leodivico Ayo was over 70 years old.  After the typhoon he got sick.  You may remember the picture above in one of our first updates about his church and parsonage being destroyed.  He had no building as the typhoon destroyed it and no house.  He had money for his building but he was too weak to work on it.  He would preach in church and even that was probably too much for him.  The Lord took him home on Friday, January 31.  He was trained by one of our graduates, Jonalou Labana, to preach. His 50-year-old son, Sonico, is now pastoring the church.  Ricky was able to visit him recently along with Pastor Gerald McKelroy. In the picture below Brother McKelroy is presenting Brother Sonico a very nice guitar for the church.

Pastor Marcelino Balajadia's church is on an island that was hit hard by the typhoon.  Almost every house in his village was destroyed.  The island is considered a part of the town of Concepcion where over 100 people died.  About a month ago he came by to give me the first picture (below) of his rebuilt church building.  He had just preached in it the day before and was so happy.  He was also really worn out like so many of the pastors and Christians there.  He spent a lot of time helping his members and others.  He had a problem with high blood pressure for some time and a week later, on Sunday night, all the stress as well as his sickness caught up with him, and the Lord took him Home.  His sister Sonia has been on our staff for more than 20 years and his other sister was on our staff as well for a long time.  His brother also went to our school and is a pastor. His daughter Myra graduated from our Bible School as well.  Mercy, his other daughter, is in our school now.  His funeral was on Friday, February 14th.  We used some of your money to help his family with all the unexpected expenses they had with the funeral.  The second and third pictures below are of him and his family right after the typhoon, and of him some time ago baptizing in the ocean, which is next to his church on that island.  The last picture is him witnessing to some young people.

The picture below is of me with some kids playing on a fallen tree on the beach on the island of Igbon where four pastors lost their houses and churches.   This island is very near the island where Brother Balajadia lived.

Presently our emphasis is helping all the pastors who lost homes and churches with items for their churches like chairs, benches, pulpits, Sunday School materials, chalkboards, songbooks, guitars, and keyboards; then items for their homes like food, clothing, beds, tables, chairs, beddings, eating utensils, personal items, school supplies for their children, and medicines.  We are giving them cash to buy what they need and it is a big help.
 
Again words could not express how we feel for what you have done to help these faithful Christians on our island.  We are so grateful for your sacrifice.  It has been especially helpful for the ones who have suffered the most by losing loved ones.  We have tried to do more for them to let them know they are not forgotten. 
 
God bless,
 
Rick and Becky Martin

Typhoon Yolanda Relief Update Jan. 4, 2014

January 4, 2013

 

Dear Friends,

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

All that's left of Pastor Deramas' church
All that's left of Pastor Deramas' church
December 16, 2013
 
Dear Friends,
 
First I want to thank you for helping so many of the pastors and churches with materials for their houses and church buildings.  A lot of progress has been made.
 
Pastor Artiem Herida came to Iloilo City recently and we were able to give him some help to rebuild his church.  While he was here his wife became very ill.  They live far from the town but finally she was taken to the hospital.  By the time she arrived her appendix had ruptured.  Brother Herida was able to get there in time to talk to her before she died.  Brother Herida has been through a lot.  He lost his home, his church building, all his personal possessions, and now his faithful wife—but he has not lost his love for God.
Pastor Deramas' parsonage
Pastor Deramas' parsonage
Not much left of Pastor Joenalo Labana's church above
Not much left of Pastor Joenalo Labana's church above

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.

Pastor Eglon Huaca's church
Pastor Eglon Huaca's church

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 away tears.

 

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)

Pastor Marlon Bacarro in front of his parsonage
Pastor Marlon Bacarro in front of his parsonage

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.

Rebuilding Pastor James deJulian's church on the island of Salvacion
Rebuilding Pastor James deJulian's church on the island of Salvacion

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.

church building above of Pastor Emeterio Pilar, a faithful, older pastor, in bad health but still preaching God's Word
church building above of Pastor Emeterio Pilar, a faithful, older pastor, in bad health but still preaching God's Word

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.

Brandie's parents-Larry & Lisa Lee, with grandkids-T.J. & Ava Martin, June 2013
Brandie's parents-Larry & Lisa Lee, with grandkids-T.J. & Ava Martin, June 2013
A lot of people have helped this church and we are grateful, but Larry and his wife Lisa willingly gave the Lord (and us) a wonderful gift when they gave their daughter—to serve the Lord halfway around the world. Becky and I cannot express the gratitude we have for Larry and Lisa’s gift, Brandie, a tireless laborer for the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Rick & Becky Martin

Typhoon Yolanda Update November 30th

Pastor Jordan Roa & child; many pastors & their families are without homes
Pastor Jordan Roa & child; many pastors & their families are without homes

 

November 30, 2013

(3 weeks after storm)

 

Dear Friends,

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)

Dear Friends,
 
This short update involves our Iloilo Baptist College students. 
 
These first pictures are of the Mom and Dad of Daniel Asis, who as you can see, lost their home.
When we got to checking around among our students, we found out that 31 of them had homes that were totally destroyed.
 
The IBC staff and I got together and started praying and talking about what we could do to help the parents of these students.  The amount we gave the parents who lost homes is P5000 pesos each, which is half of what we are giving the pastors who lost homes.  We had a contest between the students, the staff, and the church members.  So far the students have raised the biggest amount as they really have a burden for their fellow classmates.  We are adding some money to what they raise to help.  See picture below of most of the 31 students who lost their homes during Typhoon Yolanda.
One of the students came to our house with tears of joy, thanking us for helping her mom and dad who had lost everything.
 
Over 350 of our students and staff went to help with the government’s relief effort on Monday and Tuesday.  Each worker put in six hours.  Iloilo was given a lot of aid from the Philippine government, some foreign countries especially Canada and the USA, and also private organizations from the USA.  Our students have been packing bags to be handed out to needy families that were hit by the typhoon in the northern part of our island.  The government agency was very happy to have our volunteers help!  Below are some pictures.
In closing, Becky and I are so touched by many of you who have responded, saying that you’re praying and asking how you can help.  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
 
Rick & Becky Martin

November 19, 2013 Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Update

Top picture is Pastor Jonathan Aspera's church, below that is his home
Top picture is Pastor Jonathan Aspera's church, below that is his home
Dear Friends,
 
We are so grateful for so many of you who have prayed and contacted us since the deadly storm that hit the Philippines a week ago.  Here is an update regarding the Typhoon Yolanda aftermath:
 
1)  BIMI missionary Carl Sparks and family have been found and evacuated to Manila.  They were in Tacloban waiting to get out for nine days.  Please pray for him and his ministry—they lost everything. Thanks so much for praying for him.  All three that you have prayed for have been found alive and are safe.
 
2)  We have almost 400 workers from our church and Bible College, volunteering Monday and Tuesday to pack relief bags for government agencies to give to typhoon victims.
 
3)  Our son Ricky went to Capiz today along with Missionary Sam Heidenreich, who also had a lot of damage from the Typhoon.  They visited BIMI missionary Rick Fannin, whose ministry has also suffered from the storm.  They said they couldn’t believe the devastation done to Roxas City where the Fannins have a church and Bible college.  Ricky and Sam took relief goods, especially drinking water.
Our September-October prayer letter was about three blind pastors—Gabriel Della, Samson Clorion, and Lobert Garote.  In that letter we said we’d write some more about them in our November/December prayer letter.  Now, because of Typhoon Yolanda, we do want to mention these blind pastors once again, because of the damage done to their churches and homes.
 
Pastor Samson Clorion’s church and parsonage lies in ruins.  Pastor Jonathan Aspera’s home and church have also been destroyed.  Lobert Garote, who has two children in our Bible College, had his home destroyed.
The home of Eden Calibayan's mom was badly damaged
The home of Eden Calibayan's mom was badly damaged
We also want to mention some people who may sound familiar to you, as we’ve mentioned them in prayer letters in the past several months.
 
We have mentioned in the past about our IBC graduates that are foreign missionaries in Zambia—Eduard and Eden Calibayan:  
Top is Pastor Michael Balinas' church; bottom is his home
Top is Pastor Michael Balinas' church; bottom is his home

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:  

Not only that, but some of the men he has been training in his Bible Institute have been affected by the typhoon:
 
Norman Anastacio’s house, Rogelio Arcede’s house, Hername Felizardo’s house, and three others.
Mrs. Tamayo's home badly damaged; thankfully the church building only suffered minor damage.
Mrs. Tamayo's home badly damaged; thankfully the church building only suffered minor damage.
In the last few months we have also written about some of our pastors who have gone home to be with the Lord.  Sad to say, their widows have also suffered from Typhoon Yolanda:
 
Elizabeth Tamayo whose husband, Pastor Danilo Tamayo, died two years ago:
Glenda Agustino’s home was badly damaged.  Her pastor-husband Charlie was murdered a few months ago as we mentioned in a prayer letter.  Alma Abelitado’s home was badly damaged.  Her pastor-husband Hermando (who everyone called “Cruz”) was killed when he was hit by a truck a few months ago, as we also mentioned in a prayer letter. 
 
In closing I’d like to share the testimony of Pastor Freddie Agpalo, Ivisan Baptist Church:
 
The typhoon hit our town at 10:00 am.  My family and I evacuated to a school.  When we heard and felt the strong wind, we fell to our knees and asked help form our Heavenly Father, to spare our lives.  We saw the storm breaking down many houses.  Trees and roofs blew away.  Many people fled to our school.  We stayed for a few hours and then I realized that the winds were becoming stronger.  I prayed and the Holy Spirit spoke to me that I should preach to those families in the shelter with us.  Praise God, eight trusted Christ as Savior.  The storm finally began to lesson and I went outside to look.  It was totally desolate. The worst part was when one of our church members died.  She was pregnant and so traumatized by the storm. We tried to save her but the lack of blood type, absence of electricity, and delay of travel due to messed up roads perhaps, became the reason that she died.  She was brought to the hospital however it was too late. She bled over and over up to the extent that her body can no longer let her live.  The baby is alive.
 
Thank you and God bless you.  We’ll probably give you another update in a few days. 
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Rick & Becky Martin

November 15, 2013 Typhoon Relief Update

Unloading relief goods from the boat
Unloading relief goods from the boat
November 15, 2013
 
Dear Friends,
 
Thank you for praying for our student Jeffer.  His parents were found unharmed, as well as Missionary Dennis Young’s son.  There has been concern for Mr. & Mrs. Carl Sparks, a BIMI missionary family.  They have not been heard from.
One of the policemen passing out candy to the children
One of the policemen passing out candy to the children

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.

This family was getting ready to bury a loved one when the typhoon struck.  They left the body at the gravesite & ran for cover.  After the storm they went back & were shocked to see the casket was still there intact.  Now they are going through the funer
This family was getting ready to bury a loved one when the typhoon struck. They left the body at the gravesite & ran for cover. After the storm they went back & were shocked to see the casket was still there intact. Now they are going through the funer

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.

What is left of the gym on the island of Salvacion--storm so powerful it twist large steel trusses
What is left of the gym on the island of Salvacion--storm so powerful it twist large steel trusses

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. 

Destruction is everywhere on the island of Bagongon
Destruction is everywhere on the island of Bagongon

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.

 

I want to thank you for your prayers and concern you have for these faithful Christians who are suffering.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Rick & Becky Martin

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

Pastor Marianito Eripol's church; his home was also destroyed
Pastor Marianito Eripol's church; his home was also destroyed
November 13
 
Dear Friends,
 
First please pray for the family of Pastor Ed Ragracias.  He and his wife both died in the storm. He is a pastor in Tacloban and is a graduate of a Bible School in Manila headed by Pastor Gerry Nable.  Brother Nable has been a good friend for many years.
Wife of Pastor Ariel Cuidad, standing before their house
Wife of Pastor Ariel Cuidad, standing before their house

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.”

Pastor Ringo Danoso's house
Pastor Ringo Danoso's house

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.

Pastor & Mrs Rudy Barbo's church damaged; their house destroyed
Pastor & Mrs Rudy Barbo's church damaged; their house destroyed

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.

Pastor & Mrs Marcelo Balajadia's church; their house also destroyed
Pastor & Mrs Marcelo Balajadia's church; their house also destroyed
The biggest problem they are facing is food.  They have no way to get off the island to go find food.  They are eating very little each day, carefully rationing, and soon they’ll be completely out.
 
On Thursday we are taking two jeeploads of rice and other food to the pastors and their churches.  The pastors will distribute it to their church people and others in need as well.  Our son Ricky is going with a group and he was planning to take my wife Becky, and our 6-year-old grandson T.J., but people have advised against it.  For one thing, the waves are rough and for another, we’re afraid there might be a riot when people see they are carrying food.  In fact, we are asking several policemen to go with our groups. 
Wife & children of Pastor Eul Amante standing before their home
Wife & children of Pastor Eul Amante standing before their home

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.

Pastor & Mrs James de Julian & children stand beofre their home; on their island (Salvacion) there were 160 houses--all but 6 were destroyed
Pastor & Mrs James de Julian & children stand beofre their home; on their island (Salvacion) there were 160 houses--all but 6 were destroyed
It’s hard for me to try to describe the living conditions of these people to Americans.  When you have people who were already living a hand-to-mouth existence, get hit by a devastating storm that takes away even the little that they have, words fail me.
 
There are now 62 homes and 61 churches of the graduate pastors of IBC that are confirmed to be destroyed.  Many others have been damaged. Our graduates are raising money for 9 of the houses.   There are still areas up in the mountains that are not accessible where there are a lot of graduates.  We hope to get more information about them soon.
Many pastors add 3 walls to the side of their church & call that their parsonage; here Pastor & Mrs Ignatio Tarde stand before their destroyed church & home.  Richard said his grandpa said this huge tree that fell on the Tarde's church/parsonage, was over
Many pastors add 3 walls to the side of their church & call that their parsonage; here Pastor & Mrs Ignatio Tarde stand before their destroyed church & home. Richard said his grandpa said this huge tree that fell on the Tarde's church/parsonage, was over

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.

Richard's cousin with his children, a smile in spite of everything
Richard's cousin with his children, a smile in spite of everything

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. 

 
Richard told us that at his home the people have constructed a crude tent to keep them out of the rain.  There are too many people so they take turns going under the tent in shifts.   
 
God bless you, and thank you.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Rick & Becky Martin

November 11, 2013 - Devastating Typhoon

Pastor Ernie Tarde who is standing here where his church stood just a few days ago in Concepcion.
Pastor Ernie Tarde who is standing here where his church stood just a few days ago in Concepcion.

“10,000 DEAD, MISSING” is the headline on this mornings’ paper, The Philippine Star, dated November 11, 2013

 

We are praising the Lord that we didn’t suffer any serious damage or injury here at our church.  We were in the path of the storm and fairly near the center and were expecting the worst.  Iloilo City was expecting sustained winds of 120 miles an hour but it wasn’t that bad.  We are at the southern part of the island.  Iloilo City has built a new waterway that helps to keep it from the massive flooding we used to experience in our part of the city. There were parts of the city affected but it was like a normal typhoon with some flooding and wind damage to homes.  We asked the government social service agency how we could help and they sent 379 families to our church on Sunday morning and 173 families on Sunday night and we gave each one a small bag of rice and other goods.  We thank the Lord that some of them received the Lord as Savior.  Before the typhoon we bought a large supply of food and other supplies for the students and staff thinking we might not have food, electricity, and even water for weeks.  The Lord was so good as the electricity was only off for one day and the water back to normal after 3 days.  We just gave all the food to these people in our city who needed it. The people of Iloilo City were so happy that the storm did not do the damage that it could have.  We all thanked God.
 
However, on the northern part of this island of Panay it was really bad.  It was in the very center of the storm with almost 150 miles per hour of sustained winds.  One of the missionaries with BIMI, Rick Fannin and his wife, work in this area and had a lot of damage to their property and need help.  Sam Heidenreich of FBMI is about half way between here and the Fannin’s and was hit pretty hard too.  We received a message that his town of Colinog may not have electricity for two months.
 
It has been very hard to get accurate information on what is going up north because electricity was knocked out and the cell towers have been damaged or down.  One of our church members went up to that part of the island after the storm and showed me some of the pictures and video he took.  The towns he passed through, Balasan, Estancia, and Sara were just devastated.  It looked as though mostly only the strong cement buildings remained in the pictures I saw.  He said in two of the towns the town gymnasiums collapsed. He said in Estancia, which is on the coast, 37 bodies had been recovered so far.  Most of these were people who were washed out to sea when the waves came in.  I have sent workers up to these areas today and hope to get more information.  A lot of the graduates are out on these little islands pastoring churches.  One unconfirmed report was that in the village of Tambalisa, every house was destroyed except two cement buildings.  We should know in a day or two because one of our staff members went there today.  We had our church camps on this scenic island for many years.  There are numerous reports by our workers of many villages nearly or completely destroyed in these areas.
 
Information on Saturday and Sunday was slow but today we are getting a better picture of how this affected the pastors from IBC who live in the northern part of the island.  There are a lot of pastors there.  As of this evening (Monday) we could only confirm 33 pastors whose homes were totally destroyed and 36 churches totally destroyed.  At least one of the Bible Schools there had a lot of damage.  We should be getting more information each day.
 
Two of our graduates are on the island of Leyte where the typhoon first made landfall.  Both had their church and house totally destroyed.
 
Some of our workers just got back from the Northern lloilo area, primarily in the town of Concepcion where the graduates have many churches in the surrounding villages and islands.  When the typhoon came many of the people were in public buildings, especially the gymnasium.  When parts of the roof began to go off the gym the people began to run to other buildings. Some of the people would flee the second building when its roof started coming off.   Our staff went to the City Hall and found out the official death count there is 82.  A lot of the people in Concepcion are desperate for food. 
 
Please pray for the son of Missionary Dennis Young.   Brother Young is a missionary in the Philippines and I have heard that his son pastors a church in Tacloban.  From what I understand they have not heard from him yet.  The death toll in Tacloban is in the thousands.
 
Also please pray for one of our Bible College students, Jeffer, who is from Tacloban, the city that was the worst hit.   His parents have not yet been located. 
 
One pastor who is in the central part of Panay Island pastors two churches and had one totally destroyed and the other lost everything but the frame. You can see the two pictures.  One of the pictures (above) is of Pastor Ernie Tarde who is standing here where his church stood just a few days ago in Concepcion.  The second picture (below) is of the remains of the church of Pastor Ed Java in the town of Sara.
 
Please note we are having problems with our magic jack number.  You may call our son Ricky's phone:  or our Philippine landline: 011-6333-320-4557
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Rick & Becky Martin
 
PS:  Please keep the father of our daughter-in-law, Brandie, in your prayers as he battles cancer.  His name is Larry Lee.