Climate change is a defining issue for our generation. It can feel overwhelming to think that the car we drive to work everyday or the straw we drink through are contributing to the issues that affect our planet. It’s a complex topic that can leave us feeling like we don’t know what to do or what we are responsible for. There are certainly objective things we can do to care for the creation God has given us responsibility for, and it’s something we have to do together as humanity.
Our regional ministry headquarters in Tacloban City, Philippines is consistently listed in the top ten countries rated for natural disaster vulnerability metrics. Disasters cause incredible destruction in an area that lacks proper infrastructure or preparedness (1). Because the Philippines is a nation of islands, they are constantly at risk of water-related disasters. These statistics can hit really close to home because we have cooperatives who experience the real world ramifications.
Jairus Tumamak, one of the G.O.D. SEA interns, is from a small village called Kauswagan, outside the city of Tacloban. Kauswagan was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the strongest recorded storm in history. Jairus recounted the event: “We quickly ran out of food and access to the city was severed. People began reverting to self-preservation measures, no longer concerned for the welfare of their neighbors. Eventually, an aid helicopter made it to our village and dropped a load of rice and basic provisions in the middle of a field. The scene was an ‘everyone for themselves’ situation where fighting broke out and the weak were left without getting a fair share of the provisions.” Unfortunately, these scenes are common in the aftermath of disasters like Typhoon Haiyan. Some of the consequences of climate change are rising ocean levels, rising ocean temperatures, and changing weather patterns, all of which contribute to an increase in the frequency and strength of the storms.
One way the SEA Regional Team is responding to this reality is by offering moral education for the people who endure such disasters. It’s the responsibility of God’s people everywhere to be a source of peace, sacrifice, and care for the vulnerable. In Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus teaches the parable of the two houses, one built on rock and one on sand, and how there is no exemption from the storms of life. Rather, the variable exists in where our house is built, what type of foundation undergirds it.
Following Jesus doesn’t exempt a person from the chaotic elements or unfortunate circumstances present in our world. Though we experience the storms of life, we endure them with faith because we have built our house on the rock, a foundation of God’s Word. As we continue our work of investing into the people of the Philippines, we hope to share a foundation of rock, a source of hope and refuge found in biblical truths, even amidst times of chaos and uncertainty.
We are heavily invested in building up the community in Tacloban with events like a mothers bible study and bible program for their kids. We regularly provide education seminars to empower mothers to care for the holistic health of themselves and their children. In 2017 we helped a family relocate to a new home provided by an NGO to help them along the road to recovery from typhoon Haiyan. Although we are trying to make conscious decisions to prevent climate change, we are also prioritizing on what Jesus calls the most important project: the building of a house on a rock, so that when the storms come, the house will still stand. We are happy to know several people whose lives continue to testify to God’s nearness even throughout disasters. We pray for even more to know him, so that this good work can continue.
(1) http://adapt.it/osservatori/nid/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/who_20121.pdf. (2019).