Light and Life Church hopes to rise from typhoon
The congregation of Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban City, Philippines, offers witness that two typhoons within less than a year can batter buildings, but not spirits.
After Typhoon Haiyan wiped out the city a year ago, Light and Life Church moved into a corrugated metal building. Then Typhoon Hagupit — also known as Ruby — hit. As of Dec. 7, 2014, the church was under water; bunkhouses in which some members displaced in 2013 were living had been destroyed.
Still, the Rev. Iris Picardal Terana, a Christian educator at the church who was serving as pastor when the 2013 storm struck, continues to count blessings.
"We have felt our global (United) Methodist connection. We realized how God loves us when we were reached out to by others whom we did not even know," she said.
A quick look at the church's Facebook page shows a thriving congregation. "We are the church of God who proclaims the gospel," it says. Images reveal people of all ages who are grateful for opportunities to share God's love. "There is no hope in the world but the hope of Jesus. He is the only Savior!" one post reads.
The Rev. Joseph Cornito, the church's current pastor, said the congregation participated in an ecumenical worship service on the anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan on Nov. 8, 2014. Hundreds of Taclobon City residents attended.
Before Typhoon Hagupit struck, the United Methodist Committee on Relief had begun building 218 houses in Calogcog. Sixteen were completed, and 24 were in progress. Cornito and the Light and Life church had also worked with projects on the Pacao and Hinyangan islands.
Yet, Tacloban City was still a long way from recovery. In their local dialect, residents use the word tabangunon to describe Tacloban City, which means, "It needs help."
Nevertheless, Cornito said he has faith that God will continue to provide help.
Gladys Mangiduyos is a deaconess in the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference and a professor at Wesleyan University-Philippines in Cabanatuan City.