God used two things to make me passionate about a ministry in crisis response. The first was studying crisis throughout the pages of Scripture, which has provided most of the source material for these devotionals. The second was an experience I had in the Philippines, which I’ll recount here.
The story actually begins in Africa. In November 2013, I was in Bangui, Central African Republic, trying to recover from being sick. Too weak to do anything else, I listened to BBC radio. A special came on about Tacloban in the Philippines – a name which was new to me. Weeks before the city had taken a direct hit from Super Typhoon Yolanda and people were telling their stories, each one ending in tears. I was moved and remember praying something like, “Lord, please help these people! Bring eternal good out of the devastation! Use it to draw people to You.”
Six weeks later I was back in the USA working on helping war-torn CAR with food and seed. I confess my prayers for Tacloban were far from my mind…but not from God’s.
Fast-forward exactly one year later. I had accepted the invitation of a missionary to visit their work in the Philippines and see what God was doing. Landing in Cebu City, that first night I was heavily jetlagged so I flipped on the TV. A one-year-anniversary documentary on Super Typhoon Yolanda was playing. It was sounding very familiar; I then remembered the BBC story I had heard on the radio the year before in Africa.
Traveling throughout Samar Island we saw a land still heavily scored and pocked by the typhoon’s strength, but the contrasting beauty of new life, new believers, and new church plants was stunning. I sat worshipping in a church plant, which didn’t exist a year before. As they sang, it all came back to me. I remembered my prayer from a year before and realized I was sitting in God’s answer! These were the people for whom I had prayed!