i Give for CDO and Iligan: Thoughts on the Sendong Tragedy

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Author Wednesday
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We’ve all been affected in one way or another with the recent tragedy that has enveloped the Philippines. And it’s very easy to be confused, to hurt and to even doubt: Where is God in all of this?

We asked some of our writers to share their thoughts on this and we pray that this will cause us to ponder the things we believe in, to act in whatever way we can, and to pray unceasingly for our countrymen directly affected by this calamity.

A message from Yna Reyes, OMF Literature’s Publications Director

My heart goes out to our fellowmen in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan who lost their homes and loved ones. My prayers are with them. In this time of great need and distress, may they find comfort in the unchanging truth that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea . . .” (Psalm 46:1-2).

To those of us who have been spared from the devastation of Sendong, may we encourage our needy fellowmen not only in word, but in deed. We can pray, give, and lend much-needed help. We can ask our friends and loved ones to pray and give as well. We can be bringers of hope and good cheer. We can spread the good news of Christmas — that God loves all of us, that’s why He sent us His Son, Jesus. We can show them we are Christians by our love.

 

MESSAGES FROM DR. HAROLD AND DARLENE SALA

TO MY DEAR FRIENDS IN CAGAYAN DE ORO AND ILIGAN…

Having ministered in Cagayan de Oro twice in the past three years, my heart was deeply touched learning of the ferocious storm that struck bringing suffering and loss to so many.  I hurt deeply for you and immediately asked myself, “How can we help beside praying for you?”

I immediately thought of Isaiah 43:1-3 (one of my favorite passages) where you find the words, “When you go through the waters I will be with you….” A couple whose child drowned once told me, “You will never know how the passage in Isaiah comforted us—knowing that God hadn’t forsaken us but was there as He lifted our daughter into heaven.”

As you may know, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter,” and writing to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:3-4) Paul calls our loving heavenly Father “the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles….” May His love embrace you, His people step forward providing compassion, financial help, encouragement, and strength where you lack it.

Jesus would say, “Inasmuch as you have done it for these in Cagayan de Oro, you have done it for me.”

Harold Sala

 

The slide shows and videos of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan are almost overwhelming.  The loss, the grief, the suffering–they tear at your heart. How could all of this tragedy happen so quickly! And just before Christmas!

The first question that comes to my mind is “How can we help ease the pain?”  OMF Lit is to be commended for immediately reaching out with hearts full of love and with financial support as well. I hope many will join with them, for all of us doing what we can will definitely make a difference.  No, we can’t do it all for the 100,000-plus affected, but for the ones we help, the difference will be substantial. Even a cup of cold water is significant when all the water around you has become polluted.

God bless those who follow their hearts to show the love of Christ to those who so desperately need our help.

Darlene Sala

 

Sendong and God’s Sovereign Love by Ronald Molmisa

As of December 20, Typhoon Sendong’s wrath put the death toll at more than 700 with about 900 others listed as missing. The aftermath of this disaster provides ammunition for those who claim that calamities negate God’s love and benevolence to man. Others even argue that since these things happened, God must not exist. The grand question is: Why does God allow natural disasters to happen? The Word of God offers the following enlightenments.
First, disasters must be understood as God’s law of nature at work. The death of many people in disasters should not be misconstrued as an expression of the “wrath of God”. Remember that God does not want people to perish but to have a life full of abundance (John 10:10b).
Second, we must understand that Jesus Christ has the authority over the forces of nature (Colossians 1:16-17). As such, he can also prevent natural disasters. He could also use the force of nature to remind people of their shortcomings and sins against Him. He can influence the weather (Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17, Numbers 16:30-34). Nonetheless, not every natural disaster should be perceived as a punishment from God.
Third, when God created the world, it was perfect (Genesis 1:31). But the fallen nature of man has destroyed God’s design for the management of His creations. Hence, the Earth was “cursed” (Genesis 3:17). Apostle Paul wrote that the entire creation was subjected to “vanity” and the “bondage of corruption” as a result of the sinful events that took place since the fall of man at Eden (Romans 8:19-20).
Lastly, natural disasters should remind us that this world was never intended to be our final home (Hebrews 11:13-16). This is our temporal abode (James 4:14). We must perceive natural disasters as a wake-up call to everyone. We can escape from them but we can never be assured that they will never haunt us again. In this, we must be assured of the life beyond this life. This assurance can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ.

We must always be reminded of God’s love. His love endures forever.  As Romans 8:35-39 declares:  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Have a blessed and meaningful Christmas!

 

Forces by Yay Padua-Olmedo

The images are still fresh: Fukushima, devastated by an earthquake and a 15-meter tsunami which earlier brought Japan to its knees.

Just recently: Cagayan and Iligan, Mindanao, Philippines. A thousand lives lost in raging waters. Hundreds more missing. Entire villages washed away.

Prayers and aid have been poured out. Finger-pointing too, many of these to heaven. What kind of God would allow such disaster?

It is futile to give answers. I don’t understand any of these. Neither do you.

But we see the physical evidence: Too much rain inundating heavily silted rivers which in turn caused flash floods washing away fragile homes and lives. Mankind has mismanaged nature to the degree that it now wreaks havoc on all of us, none spared.

We do know too that spiritual forces are at work (Eph 6:12). Satan’s agenda is death and destruction.

So with both these forces against us, our only refuge is God. He is still seated on the throne. Jesus came to save! I firmly believe that those who called on Jesus, even if they perished in the flood, are now safe in His presence.

This makes it all more urgent to let the world know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Because of Jesus in us, we can demonstrate His grace and be the force for mending broken lives.

 

 

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