Relief in full swing
Dogs in the church or motorcycles in the Philippines—sometimes help comes in unexpected ways. Over the last few months, natural disasters and explosions were the top stories in world news. What didn’t make the headlines was the good news, namely the help that came.
Help on motorcycles
Typhoon Odette (internationally known as Rai) made landfall in the Philippines in the afternoon of 16 December 2021 and pounded the islands until early the following morning. The cyclone claimed the lives of 375 people and 600,000 lost their homes. The storm caused widespread power outages and water shortages. Some areas were completely cut off. There were also extensive communication cuts, and damage to roads, ports, and airports.
Church members were quick to lend a hand, especially young people. The Church in the Philippines funded 260 emergency food packages, which the helpers distributed on the island of Bohol, which was hit hard by the typhoon. Any churches that had suffered less damage were used as evacuation centres, where NAC SEA Relief, the aid organisation of the New Apostolic Church in the Philippines, stocked and distributed food.
The first volunteers from NAC SEA Relief arrived on the islands of Surigao, Bohol, and Negros already a few days after the storm. Financial aid followed soon from Europe. The relief organsations human aktiv (Southern Germany), NAK-Humanitas (Switzerland), and NAK-karitativ (Western Germany) are funding the reconstruction of houses and farms. At the beginning of January, volunteers starting distributing urgently needed building materials.
And then there are heartwarming stories of people reaching out to help, NAC SEA Relief reports. For example, a young man from our congregation in Cebu City rallied some of his friends and together they set out on their motorbikes to bring food to particularly hard-hit areas.
Help for burn victims
The explosion of a fuel tanker at a busy intersection in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 5 November 2021 claimed the lives of 115 people and left many seriously injured. A collision between the fuel tanker and another truck had caused a fuel leakage. It caught fire. A huge fireball engulfed vehicles, people, and passengers that were stuck in traffic because of the initial collision.
The New Apostolic Church in Sierra Leone wanted to help the victims. The administrative office of the Church passed on a donation to support the burn victims. On 29 November, Apostle Braima Saffa together with Phengo Gendemeh, Abubakarr Mansaray, and Victoria Hamilton presented a cheque to the director of the National Disaster Management Agency to help the burn victims.
Help at Christmas
Five dogs in the church. Excuse me? For twenty years now, the members of the church district Leinfelden-Echterdingen in Germany have been selling home-baked goodies at the Christmas market and donating the proceeds. On account of the pandemic, however, many Christmas markets were cancelled and the brothers and sisters had to sell their handcrafted Christmas cards, homemade jams, and other delicacies in their own congregations. And sell they did! A cheque to the tune of 3,500 euros could be presented to the rescue dog team of the German Red Cross on 28 December. Five four-legged friends collected the cheque together with their dog handlers after the service.
Help on call
The powerful eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine volcano on 15 January 2022 generated a tsunami that caused destruction and chaos in the Tonga archipelago in the Western Pacific. The toxic volcanic ash presents risks to the drinking water on the islands.
The staff of the New Apostolic Church Western Pacific immediately tried to contact the Church members on Tonga. After several unsuccessful attempts they finally reached district rector Fonci Sitani. He reported that the members of his district were safe and relatively unscathed. Most New Apostolic Christians in the archipelago live on Tongatapu, the biggest of the Tonga islands, which was largely spared due to its location.
The people are currently not able to go to work or to church. Markets and public institutions are closed. Fonci Sitani is now investigating how best the congregations and members can be helped.