A personal reflection on Typhoon Haiyan’s aftermath
By Ace Concordia
C4C Philippines coordinator
On Nov. 7, 2013, when typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, I was in Manila with my family. There was rain and moderately strong winds. We had braced for the worse since I saw the Doppler image of the immense size of the storm. The frantic warnings from news programs on TV claimed it would be the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall on record. This caused businesses and offices to slow down and people to rush home early. But the day passed and became somewhat anti-climactic. What I had anticipated didn’t come to pass. I’ve been through worse. Inside me, I was thankful that the storm fell short of what was expected.
Doppler image of Typhoon Haiyan.
But when I recalled images of the storm, it felt as if there should be more to this story. It started off as an overwhelming force of nature headed in the direction of my country. Maybe the storm just projected an image of enormity? Maybe it weakened when it made landfall? Maybe it dissipated as quickly as it developed? Every single thought and assumption I made that day was frightfully wrong.
Two mornings later, Nov. 9, was my wife Gie’s birthday. We woke up early to go to work and planned to celebrate later that evening. I turned on the TV as I waited for my wife to tell me she was ready to go. The news was on, and it made me pause and think about how this day was going to turn out. I was fixated on the images being shown on the aftermath of Haiyan. I knew this was not going to be just another day.
The province of Samar and Leyte, thriving and bustling with life two days earlier, now was a barren wasteland of debris and death. There was barely anything standing: houses, buildings, electric poles, trees, everything was shredded to the ground. The dead were scattered on the streets. No food, no water, no electricity, no businesses, no hospitals, no government. Nothing was left.
News photo on Nov. 9 of devastation from Typhoon Haiyan.
Tacloban, the largest populated area hit by the storm, was thrown back into the Stone Age as people resorted to primal instincts to survive by stealing and looting. Mobs formed to ransack stores and ambush vehicles. It was desperation and despair brewing into chaos. Inside me, I was rapidly sinking into anguish as the images and voices of hopelessness were broadcast before me. It was one of those moments that churn your innermost being; it was a sadness that was difficult to put into words, but could not be ignored.
Charles Spurgeon once preached on “The Compassion of Jesus.” He wrote:
“He was moved with compassion.” — Matthew 9:36
“This is said of Christ Jesus several times in the New Testament. The original word is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is, it was a word coined by the evangelists themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels — a yearning of the innermost nature with pity. As the dictionaries tell us — Ex intimis visceribus misericordia commoveor. I suppose that when our Saviour looked upon certain sights, those who watched him closely perceived that his internal agitation was very great, his emotions were very deep, and then his face betrayed it, his eyes gushed like founts with tears, and you saw that his big heart was ready to burst with pity for the sorrow upon which his eyes were gazing. He was moved with compassion. His whole nature was agitated with commiseration for the sufferers before him.”
Spurgeon describes Christ’s compassion as He looked upon every person who was lost and hopeless. It was something that was inside Him that would be restless and constantly disturbed. It was an emotion so powerful that the disciples themselves could not find a word for it. This strain in Him moved Him to give Himself to injustice, to be scourged and deprived of dignity, and to die a criminal’s death. All because inside Him He could not deny what He felt; that He loved us too much and his compassion so profound He gave up His life to save us from our lives being destroyed by our separation from God. Jesus is the definitive portrayal of true Compassion. Jesus showed us it comes from inside us.
To date, there are more than 3,000 deaths caused by typhoon Haiyan, and more than 10 million people displaced and facing an uncertain future. Inside me, the churning continues and that is why on Nov. 12 C4C Philippines re-launched project Good Samaritan to gather relief goods like food, water, blankets, clothing, and medicine for our countrymen in the Visayas region.
C4C Philippines coordinator Ace Concordia with canned goods collected the week after Typhoon Haiyan as part of Project Good Samaritan.
In partnership with Medical Ambassadors Philippines, these relief items were delivered to Tacloban. The immense scale of the devastation will require many months of aid to resuscitate the lives of the people there, so Good Samaritan will be an ongoing effort for C4C Philippines.
Climbing For Christ member Arlene Bolante is part of a search-and-rescue team deployed to the town of Ormoc, where she is providing medical assistance. Both local and international aid has poured in for the victims of one of the largest storms in history. C4C member Budi Yuwono of Indonesia will be part of a medical team coming from that country to help the relief effort.
But we should realize that this will also be one of the biggest restoration projects ever undertaken.
As Christians we have been saved to live a life like Christ. His joy is our joy, His dreams our dreams, His pain our pain, His sorrow our sorrow. If He felt such great compassion for those with great need; we should also feel the same. In fact, I believe many of us do feel that compassion deep inside of us. There is a desire to act upon the discomfort that compassion makes us feel. I encourage you do something about what you feel inside; don’t let it pass you by – because there is an urgent reason why you feel the way you do. Whether it’s a loved one making wrong decisions, a friend who’s sick and we haven’t visited yet, a person who lost his job, a family begging for food, or a child with no father or mother lining up with his baby brother to board a military plane flying out of Tacloban. Whatever you’ve seen or heard that has caused disquiet within you, stand up and do something about it. Because it is what Jesus would do, and Jesus is inside you.
Ace Concordia, a member of Climbing For Christ’s Board of Directors, serves as the coordinator of C4C Philippines.
Project Good Samaritan
In the aftermath of Huiyan, C4C Philippines restarted Project Good Samaritan to gather relief goods like food, water, blankets, clothing, and medicine. You can support this effort. To do so:
- If you are in the Philippines, contact Ace directly at firstname.lastname@example.org;
- If you are outside of the Philippines, send donations to Climbing For Christ, c/o Project Good Samaritan, P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616-0290 USA. Or CLICK HERE and give online via PayPal.
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.” – Luke 10:33 (ESV)