For the past few weeks, we have been gradually receiving more reports about super-typhoon Igme that hit the northern part of Luzon in the Philippines. Many of our brethren live in the regions severely damaged by the storm. Beginning on June 29 and continuing through July 1, the storm slowly passed along the northern coast of Luzon (as pictured on the left) maintaining its full power since its circulation remained mostly offshore where it continued to feed strength to the typhoon. This area is often affected by typhoons as an average of just under 20 hit the Philippines every year. However, typhoon Igme was of a rare type in that it was the strongest typhoon to hit the islands in over ten years. The following is an excerpt from an article in The Manila Bulletin, a well-respected English newspaper in the Philippines, that was written several days after the storm and gives some information about the devastation left in the storm's wake:
The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year rose to 23 on Friday as rescue workers rushed to clear landslides and send food and medicine to isolated areas, disaster officials said. Thousands of people were displaced by typhoon Mindulle (Igme), which packed winds of 190 kilometers per hour (118 mph) and gusts of up to 230 kms. per hour (140 mph) as it swept past the northern region of the main Luzon island. Crop and infrastructure damage was estimated at $9.8 million...
Neri Amparo of the Civil Defence Office said the number of dead could rise as reports come in from isolated areas cut off by power outage and rising flood waters. Amparo said 23 people had died, most of them swept by swollen rivers. Nineteen people were missing and 22 were injured by felled trees, collapsed houses and debris brought by swirling winds. She said most roads in the north remained closed to traffic because of flood and landslides. A bridge in the mountain region was also washed out by swollen river, cutting off wide areas in the north. "We're still waiting for updates," Amparo said. "There are delays in transmission of reports because many areas are still submerged." Soldiers and civilian rescue workers are rushing to clear landslides and help deliver food, medicines and relief goods to isolated areas.
The President likewise urged the re-planting of rice and vegetable seeds in affected farmlands in Cagayan. "We have enough rice seeds in inventory to cover affected areas. We shall extend discounts in our plant now pay later programs for seeds and fertilizers." While the President toured Cagayan, De Castro (the Vice-President -- HRO) went to Laoag City to assess the damage in the affected areas. Ilocos Norte has been placed under a state of calamity.... Damages caused by typhoon "Igme" continues to soar in Ilocos Sur with the worth of destroyed crops and fisheries and livestocks now reaching up to P20.9 million based on the partial reports....
Brethren in the Cagayan region, where brother Rody Gumpad and many other faithful brethren labor, were badly affected by the high winds. Numerous brethren have written to report the state of need that exists in order to replant their crops destroyed by the typhoon. This is the most fundamental necessity at this time. Delay in planting will bring a loss of the major source of these brethren's income, food shortages and disease in months to come.
Brethren in the Ilocos Norte region were hit the worst by the storm, according to the reports received. The typhoon's counter-clockwise-winds caused the water to surge into the northwest side of Luzon, the regions of Ilocos Norte (north) and Ilocos Sur (south). Much of the area was under water for several days and many brethren lost everything in the floods. Laoag City, a major city in that region and the home of many brethren, was badly flooded and heavily damaged throughout. The following report was received from Vic Domingo, a faithful, dependable and sound preacher in that area:
I regret to inform you of our situation here at Ilocos Norte & Laoag City due to the typhoon "IGME". Our entire province has been declared on calamity for 3 days continuous heavy rains & strong winds. Many towns were underwater including Laoag City. Some people are missing and found dead due to the strong water. Here in Escoda just a few houses around the church building were not reached by water, some of the residents evacuated in the school building. Your room in our house was damage by a big tree fall upon it. Many houses were partially damage, roads & bridges were damage so we are walking home not passable by any vehicle. Our newly planted fields were flooded and many animals were drowned.
We are appealing for those congregations or individual christians please help us for we had suffered so much hardship at this time the smallest amount you could afford. God knows your sacrifices. I'm hoping & praying you will consider my brotherly appeal. All donation you could help will be carefully distributed with complete evidence pictures and list of recipient members.
May God richly blessings be yours. Regards to your family and the congregation there.
When our brethren suffer, Christians should and do have hearts open to their need and ready to help in every way possible. Whether that need exists around the block or on the other side of the world, our hearts are touched by knowing there is suffering among those with whom we share a bond of eternal love in Christ. This congregation will be sending relief from its treasury to the saints in the affected areas as the Bible authorizes in circumstances where our brethren have a benevolent need (Acts 11:29-30; Rom. 15:25-27; 2 Cor 8 & 9; etc.).
Individuals have also asked how they could help in this effort. We will be glad to assist anyone by sharing any information we have as well as several ways brethren can help. Money sent to the Philippines needs to be in the form of a cashier's check or money order, not in personal checks. You can include your assistance in the packages being sent or we can provide names and addresses where you can send it directly.
According to plans already made before this disaster, I will be visiting the most devastated regions on my next trip to the Philippines (October 25 - November 12, 2004). This will provide an opportunity for checking on the relief given as well as preaching in the regions. At this time, let us also continue to remember our Filipino brethren in our prayers that they may be strengthened, comforted and protected in this difficult period.
Evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible is found in various types both internally and externally. The Bible's case for its inspiration is explicitly founded on the fact that it speaks of events and people in detail long before those events took place and those people lived. That is the core argument made by the Bible for its own inspiration. The critics and skeptics argue against that Bible claim by saying that the claimed examples of predictive prophecy were actually not written at the time claimed by the prophet, but were written much later at a time very close to the fulfillment of the prophecy. (They also claim at times that the prophecy is not to be understood literally, but merely as a figure of speech, cultural reference or any other explanation that would deny the fact of predictive prophecy.) Yet, the skeptics' attempts to deny predictive prophecy often get them into another problem: how can they explain its historical accuracy regarding the claimed time of writing if it was actually written hundreds of years later? In this class, we will note that the twin facts of predictive prophecy and historical accuracy are presented by the Bible as twin towers of strength in an unshakeable case for the divine inspiration of the Bible. After the presentation, the audience will be asked to participate with questions and comments for the remainder of the period. If you are able to do so, we hope you will join us for the period of diligent study and brotherly discussion.
This month's class is intended as a companion for the study next month: The Verbal & Plenary Inspiration of Scripture. The Lord willing, that class will be held on September 7 at 10:00am.