Entries in partnership (3)
Thank you for your continued prayers for the Philippines in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan at the end of last year. God has moved in powerful ways to address the needs of the beautiful Filipino communities we served, and you played a major role in the relief efforts.
When Jack Eans, our Vice President for International Child Ministries who works with our staff in the field, visited the areas hardest hit in the Philippines with our project staff a month after the typhoon struck Cebu Island, the need that stood out front and center is that of shelter. Home after home had been demolished.
They visited nearly 50 homes of One Child Matters children – all had been flattened and all their belongings ruined or exposed to the elements. In the weeks since the storm some had been able to begin a little reconstruction, tapping into government aid to get some metal sheets for roofs. But most had simply propped up salvaged pieces of their houses and put tarps over them. Others dispersed to sleep with other family, some even slept on the sand. Tents donated by Taiwan Red Cross mostly went to those with disabilities. There were no refugee centers with cots, blankets, food and water and other supplies. They were still very exposed to the elements, again living in makeshift shelters right beside the ruins of their homes.
We spoke to many children and parents about what they went through during the storm. Most talked about the incredible sound and blast of the wind – a deafening roar and whistle, then watching roofs raise and blow off, trees twisting and snapping, and running to neighboring homes when theirs fell down. They took shelter in the churches only to watch those roofs blow off.
There were miracles, though! First, no one got a scratch. With debris, coconuts, sheet metal flying and swirling and roofs and walls collapsing on top, somehow no one even got hurt. Second, the storm hit at low tide, meaning there was no storm surge. If it had hit at high tide the island and the coastal area of Daan Batayan would have been swamped. And third, local leaders did an amazing job at getting people to leave their homes for shelters. Countless would have been killed if they had stayed in the simple structures they called home.
The relief efforts
In the months since, much of the world has forgotten the remaining need of these already underserved communities, but we have not. The children continue to display good resilience, hope, and typical child-like reactions to all the hustle and bustle. Many were content to play in the rain or create obstacle courses out of the downed palm trees.But the parents are worried. People are scrambling to rebuild their lives, burning the rubbish and continuing the clean-up. This is the time to respond and make a sustainable difference.
And you have responded! Your gifts to the CCF were immediately put into the relief efforts, providing food and shelter materials for the families of the children we served.
We estimated between 100-120 homes of One Child Matters children need to be rebuilt completely or have additional supplies provided to finish what they have started. The community staff in the Philippines continue to check on the families to determine the level of need and what the families themselves can contribute toward rebuilding.
The power of partnership
Using your gifts to the Children’s Crisis Fund, plus other donations from our incredible partners, we were able to help them begin to rebuild and do so well, together. The Garrisons, local missionaries who help us coordinate our work in the Philippines, were ready and able to meet the needs of the communities we have served thanks to a strong partnership with Convoy of Hope. The Garrisons had a shipping container full of enriched rice meals at the ready, plus another on its way.
Convoy of Hope helped us continue to get relief supplies to the areas that needed it most. A U.S. church partner stepped forward to help raise money to help with rebuilding efforts as you, our sponsors, continued to donate to the Children’s Crisis Fund. The board of One Child Matters voted to make a substantial donation toward rebuilding efforts, and Convoy of Hope stepped forward to match it!
We have been able to respond with your donations, plus $120,000 from One Child Matters and Convoy of Hope to begin rebuilding homes in the community.
Churches and sponsors continue to step up to donate funds, for which we are so grateful. As you can see in the photos below, the rebuilding efforts continue. But homes are being restored and rebuilt, and Jesus is being glorified in the process!
Change the world by Monday.
Seems like one of those big, hairy, audacious goals. How in the world could we claim that it’s possible?
Because we’ve seen it happen, again and again.
Take Zimbabwe, for example. There were churches in Bulawayo trying to serve the children in their community. Their limited resources couldn't go far enough when those kids faced challenges like this:
It’s estimated that two-thirds of children in Zimbabwe are in the care of an older sibling or relative. The average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is less than 52 years, one of the worst in the world. One in seven people in Zimbabwe live with HIV/AIDS, the 5th highest rate in the world. Pastor Wilfred in Bulawayo estimated that in the last three years, he had buried more than 600 people.
How do you change that world by Monday?
You step up and step in. That’s what Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, did. Members of their congregation stepped forward, and in one Sunday, hundreds of kids were sponsored.
Imagine what that Monday was like, when the staff could tell the children in their programs, “You are sponsored! There’s someone halfway around the world who loves you and cares for you and wants the best for you!”
Bayside Christian Church in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, also joined in partnership, and soon the love of Christ became so much more tangible for more than 400 kids in Zimbabwe.
On a Sunday, the love of Christ compelled people to stand up for a child in poverty, and on a Monday, the world is forever changed for that child. The difficult life circumstances can be reinterpreted through this new lens: someone cares for me. I matter to someone one the other side of the world and they keep saying I matter to God. Could it be true?
Change in such tender hearts can happen in an instant, because your prayers are instant. Your support becomes a constant while the messages of the world less insistent and God less distant.
Sponsorship – a new kind of partnership – is that powerful. It can change the world by Monday.
The news today is so troubling. After the events in Boston, our hearts are shaken, and our prayers go out to those affected.
We are encouraged by a quotation we're seeing all over social media, something attributed to Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."
We, too, are comforted, because we partner with so many helpers.
We partner with thousands of individual sponsors, intent on changing the life of a child for eternity.
We partner with churches large and small, compelled to connect with a community across the world to help them invest in their children and break the cycle of poverty for generations.
We partner with churches in 15 developing countries, because they obey the command of Jesus when He said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14).
We partner to help remove the hindrances, to bring children to Jesus. And we have seen powerful partnerships forming in Zimbabwe: partnerships with Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and Bayside Community Church with campuses in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. They along with Celebration Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and our ministry friends Children's Cup have helped us meet the needs of more 1500 Zimbabwean children.
Today, we praise God for the helpers, and for the original Helper who came down to meet us in our darkest moments.