Recently, we linked to the interview that our own Rick Steenbock, Communications and Special Projects Manager for the Eurasia Region, was able to film with the president of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines (LCP). Rick then traveled to the Philippines last Friday, November 15, with a team of a total of eight people from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The team went to assess the situation and meet with leaders in our partner church body, the Lutheran Church of the Philippines. Together, they brought some immediate relief to church members and community members whenever they could, as well as spiritual care and the proclamation of the Gospel. The LCMS has already released over $150,000 in immediate emergency funds, and is continuing to raise more funds for the long road ahead for the people of the Philippines.
As Deaconess Pamela Nielsen said in a Skype interview with St. Louis local news channel KSDK, the LCMS is not like the Red Cross. The Red Cross and other similar agencies do important work in bringing in immediate aid to major disasters. However, this aid lasts for only a short time. The LCMS is a long-term partner with the people who have survived such horrible disasters. For example, the LCMS is still working in Japan, helping the people there to recover in the long-term, more than two years after the tsunami there in March 2011. The LCMS also still works to help the recovery following Hurricane Katrina, specifically through the Southern District’s non-profit organization, Camp Restore. The response to the devastation in the Philippines will be similarly built for long-term recovery and assistance. The LCMS will work with sister church LCP in order to assess the needs and offer the resources needed. The Lutheran Church of the Philippines knows best what its members and communities need, as they are living among them and are affected (several sister churches on the Island of Leyte have been severely damaged or destroyed, as well as many members’ homes). The LCMS will assist its partner church as it is requested and as they have need. This allows the monies raised by the LCMS for disaster relief to be distributed efficiently and where most needed through the Lutheran Church of the Philippines.
The team is now making its way back to St. Louis or wherever the members of the team currently live. Rick Steenbock is on his way home to Frankfurt Germany. Once they have all returned, they will update the LCMS and her congregations on the situation on the ground and what is needed through communications such as videos, pictures, and articles. The leaders of the Disaster Response department of the LCMS will begin putting the plan they created with the LCP into action so that the mercy of Jesus Christ may reach as many as possible. You can see some current updates with pictures from the group here. On the same page as the KSDK Skype interview with Deaconess Nielsen, you will also find some raw video taken by Rick Steenbock.
The Disaster Team’s response to this horrific event is the Church at work in the world, bringing the mercy of Christ to bear in every aspect of people’s lives: financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The volunteers brought as much food as they were able. They spoke and prayed with those they encountered as they walked about surveying the island. The new head of disaster response, Rev. Ross Johnson, performed the Rite of the Commendation of the Dying for those who perished (you can see this in the raw footage from Rick Steenbock). They team brought hope in the midst of despair. The presence of the team very clearly stated that there is hope amongst the suffering. Christ Jesus, through His people and His church, brings His mercy to those in need. Even as this team responded in the Philippines, LCMS Disaster Response also deployed funds to the tornado stricken areas of the US which were hit after the Disaster Response team left. This is the Church at work.
- Pray for the team as they return to their respective homes.
- Consider donating to the typhoon relief, the tornado relief, or the general disaster fund of the Synod.
- Pray for the people of Leyte, Philippines and Illinois as they recover from these natural disasters. Pray that the Gospel would be proclaimed in their time of need, and that their physical needs will be met.