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Hurricane Odette And Cebu City, Philippines

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God (Philippians 3:13-14).

Super Typhoon Odette, with winds exceeding 140 mph, hit the Philippines on December 16, 2021.

Cebu City was directly in its path. I have been to Cebu 25 times and I have friends in the city. The ministry that I lead, Discipling Another, has a team living in Cebu who works with us in developing disciplers throughout Asia. 

After the hurricane, it was days before I could get reliable reports of their welfare.

One of our friends, who does graphics and social media for us, responded recently:

It has been 23 days since the typhoon hit. Officials think our area of town will get electricity by the end of January. We are grateful for your prayers. We don’t have running water yet but praise God there is a nearby river where we can fetch water and HAHAHA, yes, I’m learning to take a bath in the river.

Joy is a mystery. Those with the most trials often have the most joy. 

Cebu City packs its population into a very small space. About four million people live in an area the size of Dayton, Ohio. 

When I go to Cebu, I am driven by a driver through packed streets – at the blazing speed of 1 mph. This isn’t just at rush hour because all hours are rush hours in Cebu. 

Stuck in traffic, I have plenty of time to look down small alleys containing hundreds of Filipinos living in wooden structures. Living in a nice house means building a wall for protection around your house – and on the outside of your wall, others will build lean-to structures, using your wall as a part of their wooden hut.

Condensed population, power lines strung with masses of wires on wooden poles, four million people, hundreds of thousands of wooden, bamboo, and cardboard shacks…

Then a hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph makes landfall.

My friend mentioned above lives in a wooden structure, but they are building a cement block house down the hill. There is no permanent roof on the new house, but it was the safest place for her, her brother, her mother, and her father in a wheelchair to spend the night while covering themselves with plywood.

In the middle of the night, a mudslide came down the hill hitting their house and destroying a couple of the walls.

I have now spoken with many of my Philippines friends. In every email, text, or Messenger, I hear the following:

Praise God for His protection.

The Lord gives us strength.

We appreciate your prayers, continue to pray for

A pastor posted: I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in my life (Philippians 3:14).

I know that followers of Jesus shouldn’t ignore the social needs of their city by only focusing on heaven. However, when your current circumstances have been destroyed, there is nothing left but the prize of the upward call of God.

Storms too often reveal the instability of this world.  

Those believing the Bible and atheistic social pundits agree on one thing – that environmental catastrophe will occur more frequently.

And… and… even for Americans, it will literally happen or just seem like it – that the only thing left is the prize at the end of the upward call of God.

Will we have faith like our Filipino brothers and sisters?