The Herald Bulletin

November 12, 2013

Church of God sending help to Philippines

By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. —

Local churches are mobilizing to help those effected by the storm that devastated parts of the Philippines.

Anderson's Church of God has several churches in the heavily effected areas. The church's chief of communications, Mary Baker-Boudissa, said more than 10,000 Church of God members live in the island nation.

The Church of God's Children of Promise started its outreach in the Philippines in 1993. Linda Mason, of Children of Promise, said the organization has 684 sponsored Philippine children, mostly in the Manila area.

"They live in very poor conditions," Mason said. "We try to provide them with education, nutrition and spiritual growth."

Poor conditions and inadequate housing are among the reasons the destruction of the super cyclone was so immense.

Church leaders have been in contact with Eddie Viray, the national leader in the Philippines for the Church of God. Based on what they have learned from Viray, the destruction is on a monumental scale and the extent is still unknown.

"The devastation is unbelievable," Baker-Boudissa said. "There is so much that needs to be done."

Viray told church leaders that contact has been limited in the hardest-hit areas and power outages have made locating people next to impossible. The country was hit by a typhoon on Oct. 11, causing a loss of power that had still not been restored in some areas when Haiyan slammed in Nov. 8.

Viray said local churches are trying to reach those effected but progress must be made before relief efforts can begin.

The Church of God is teaming with other ministries in the area, such as the Wesleyan Church, to help as many people as possible.

"Partnerships are important, because they reach places we can't," Baker-Boudissa said. "Sometimes the best bet is to get with other groups."

The Church of God has a disaster relief fund available at all times for relief from disasters such as Haiyan. Baker-Boudissa said the money is already being used to get aid to people who need it.

The most pressing needs are food, water and shelter for the people who lost everything in the 147-mph winds and 15 inches of rain.

After the basic needs are met, the bigger rebuilding projects can begin. But those could take a very long time, Baker-Boudissa said.

"We've seen similar situations, like in Haiti where we sent a team," she said. "There's still rebuilding there that has to be done."

People interested in helping those affected by Haiyan can donate to the Church of God's relief fund.

"It's hard for people in Central Indiana to relate to the damage that a hurricane does," Baker-Boudissa said. "But everyone can relate to suffering."

The Church of God is no stranger to helping those in the Philippines. Baker-Boudissa said the church frequently helps flooded villages, especially during monsoon season. The damage wrought by Haiyan, however, is unprecedented.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call him at 640-4847.