Locally Stranded Individuals Get Help from Volunteers

Locally Stranded Individuals Get Help from Volunteers

Hundreds of stranded travelers were housed in the Villamor Air Base Compound, Philippine State College of Aeronautics, and Philippine Army Gym after staying for days under a bridge near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Most of them are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were waiting for a ride home after their flights out of Manila had been canceled.

With the help of our generous donors and volunteers, some of our pastors and staff members visited them last week (June 12–17) to give food packs, mattresses, industrial fans, slippers, and face masks. A group of volunteers led by a couple from Victory Fort also went there to provide taho (soybean pudding) and ice cream to stranded OFWs.

 

 

Though most of them had to sleep on cardboard mats while waiting to be reunited with their families, they remained hopeful and resilient. They were ready to smile at everyone, in spite of what they were going through. As one volunteer put it, “Even in the toughest times, they were still smiling. It’s inspiring and humbling at the same time.”

Aside from contributing in our own little way to extend help, we also prayed for them and the people in uniform who had been assigned to ensure their safety. We are in faith that God will work in their situation and make a way for them to go back to their hometowns and families.

 

Though times are hard, we can continue to hope in God and be His hands and feet in these trying times. Let us believe Him to provide as we do everything we can, no matter how small, to help those in need and spur faith.

 

As of this writing, we have teams available to provide prayer, counseling, and debriefing.

Six Weeks with Front Liners in Our Temporary Housing

Six Weeks with Front Liners in Our Temporary Housing

On March 31, we opened the Every Nation Building in Taguig as temporary housing for frontline healthcare workers from Rizal Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center. Through the help of the management team of both hospitals, we were able to serve a total of 63 doctors and nurses for over six weeks.

Aside from providing food and shelter, we also did our part to encourage our front liners, knowing that they face tough battles in the hospital every day. We gave them opportunities to talk with our team of licensed counselors through Zoom. We also organized weekly huddles where they played games, listened to inspiring messages from our pastors, and prayed for each other.

During Mother’s Day, we tried to make the mothers feel special by putting up a booth where they can celebrate with their families through video calls. We did what we could to serve them during this difficult time, even as they serve many others. And we were so encouraged by their responses and the smiles on their faces.

Today, we are officially closing the temporary housing to prepare the Every Nation Building to resume offices, once government directives allow for this. During the last huddle with our guests on May 14, we were moved after hearing them narrate their journey. Here is one of the heartfelt messages from Joanne, a nurse from St. Luke’s:

“Natirahan ko na lahat ng rooms at floors na pwede doon [sa ospital] bago kami pumunta dito. Ito ang pinakablessing sa amin. Pagdating namin dito, very overwhelming lahat. Yung tipong wala ka nang gagawin talaga. Hihiga ka na lang. Tapos magtatrabaho ka at stressed ka, pero pagbalik mo dito, at home na at home ka. We’re very thankful po. Yung mga kasama ko sa hospital, pati po sa ibang unit, nagkita kami dito. Para kaming magkakapatid at magkakapamilya tapos meron pang extended family—meron from RMC at taga-Every Nation pa—so very thankful po kami. Ayaw namin umalis pero lahat ng bagay may end. Pero we look forward to seeing you again, everyone. Maraming, maraming salamat po.”

(I had slept in all the available rooms and floors [in the hospital] before we came here. This was really a blessing for us. We were overwhelmed when we got here. We didn’t need to do anything else but sleep. We were working and sometimes getting stressed, but when we would return here, we would feel at home. We are very thankful. I met people from my hospital, including those in other units. We’re like a family here, and we even have an extended family from RMC and Every Nation, so we’re very thankful. We don’t want to leave, but all things have an end. We look forward to seeing you again. Thank you very much.)

On behalf of these front liners, thank you for giving to and praying for this initiative. They are truly grateful for the help we were able to extend to them. As a church, we will continue to support them through other ways as they faithfully serve our nation. May God alone be honored in all this, and let’s continue to be salt and light to others!

Our Mission Continues

Our Mission Continues

Our mission to be God’s hands and feet continues in this season. Here’s how our church in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, has been reaching out to those in need in the city.

 

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: Since May 1, 2020, the entire city has gradually transitioned from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to the general community quarantine (GCQ).

While the city observes the “new normal” under the GCQ, some establishments and modes of public transportation have been allowed to operate at a reduced capacity. A “no mask, no entry” policy was imposed for everyone’s safety. A COVID Shield Control Pass (CSCP) was also issued by the local government unit to manage the movement in public places.

Though some offices have resumed operations, a significant number of workers are still displaced by the pandemic. Most of what they were able to save was depleted during the ECQ. Aside from the displaced workers in the area, there are also a number of students in different universities that are unable to go back to their respective towns and provinces (like Batanes, Calayan, and Ifugao) because of the lockdown.

Because of the current situation in the city, our church there has been actively continuing its relief efforts. During ECQ, our church in Tuguegarao initiated donation drives for food and medical supplies for Real LIFE scholars, frontline healthcare workers, and barangay officials stationed at checkpoints. Now, during GCQ, they are actively monitoring the condition of our church members and stranded students on different campuses.

   

With the help of our Victory group leaders, pastoral staff, and volunteers from Every Nation Campus, our church in that city is continually distributing relief packs to affected students and families. Just recently, they visited the Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines, International School of Asia and the Pacific, and the Cagayan State University, where there are approximately 64 students inside the dorms and roughly 75 students living in boarding houses in nearby subdivisions.

It is the hope and prayer of our church in Tuguegarao to continue doing what God has started through them. As long as there are families and students in need, they trust that God will provide them the means to be an instrument of His love and provision.

 

Aside from preaching the gospel, our mission also involves demonstrating God’s love to others. In this time of crisis, may we continue to be His hands and feet to those in need. You can know more about our relief efforts by visiting victory.org.ph/GoodNews2020

Bringing Hope to Homes

Bringing Hope to Homes

Michelle and her Victory group have been reaching out to families in a barangay in Santa Rosa, Laguna long before the COVID-19 pandemic. She and other Kids Church volunteers have been doing outreach programs in that barangay to minister not just to the kids in the area, but even to their parents and families.

When the coronavirus outbreak started and most regions were placed under enhanced community quarantine, one of the parents from that barangay reached out to Michelle and sought help from her group. When she told her Victory group about this, they immediately responded by giving donations. She was soon overwhelmed with all the help they were willing to extend to those families.

Though unable to involve her Victory group in the packing and distribution of the relief items because of the community quarantine, Michelle had all the help she needed from her own family. And to her surprise, what she thought as a one-time thing was soon followed by more donations from people who were all willing to bring hope to families in need.

Now, they have been sorting and distributing relief packs every week not just to one barangay, but to three barangays! God’s generosity overflowed through different people, and it was way more than they expected.

God’s provision also paved the way for them to be an even greater blessing to the kids in the area. Aside from the relief packs, they have also started preparing and distributing snacks for the kids in those barangays every day. And in order to continue what they have started prior to the lockdown, they brought their Kids Church classes online through a messaging app. Aside from the lessons and snacks, they also provide activities and crafts for the kids and their parents.

In this season of uncertainty, we can go beyond helping people in need by sharing the message of the gospel with them. Michelle and her group have seen the changes in the lives of the kids they minister to and even in the lives of their parents. And it’s what motivates them to continue reaching out.

Like Michelle, her group, and all the other people who are doing what they can to be a blessing, let us bring hope all around us. In spite of the crisis, we can be a channel of blessing because we trust that God will always provide for us.

 

Michelle Papa is a Kids Church teacher and one of our Victory group leaders in Victory Santa Rosa.

A Home Away from Home for Front Liners

A Home Away from Home for Front Liners

It’s been three weeks since we opened the Every Nation building as a temporary housing facility for healthcare workers in St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City (SLMC) and Rizal Medical Center (RMC). We thank God for this opportunity to serve, and we are grateful for the church’s generosity to make this happen. 

Our partnership with the hospitals has helped with the screening of our guests and following the safety protocols in our building. We are now using six rooms as male and female sleeping quarters and serving meals in our cafeteria for 50 guests. Here are some of them.

Meet Nick, Geffen, and Marlotte. They recently passed the nursing board exam and are new hires of SLMC. They came all the way from Batangas and started to be on duty two weeks ago. They are grateful to have a temporary shelter until the end of the enhanced community quarantine.

Meet Raymond and Dr. Elvira. Raymond, a nurse who used to bike from his house in Rizal to RMC, and Elvira, an internal medicine doctor who rides with ambulances from RMC to her home in Quezon City. When the wards weren’t full yet, they both used to sleep in the hospital. Now, they can comfortably ride in our shuttles and rest well in our building.  

We plan to extend our temporary housing initiative until April 30, the end of the enhanced community quarantine period. After the government lifts restrictions, we will resume offices and worship services in the building. Even beyond the enhanced community quarantine, we remain committed to serving our front liners and are looking for other ways to continue to support them.

Our church in Lipa was inspired by this initiative in BGC and also opened their facility for healthcare workers in Mary Mediatrix Medical Center. We have ongoing relief efforts for affected communities in 30 provinces. We are also partnering with the local government and nongovernment organizations to provide protective gear and meals and pray for front liners, such as army officers and policemen. 

Together, let’s continue to face this crisis with faith, speak hope, and express God’s love in every way we can. You can read more inspiring stories from the front lines on victory.org.ph/GoodNews2020.

How should Christians respond to issues online?

How should Christians respond to issues online?

The past few weeks have been challenging to say the least because of the global impact of this pandemic. It has created a crisis on many different fronts – physical, financial, emotional, social, and political. The news and discussions online have sometimes been distressing and quite alarming. It’s understandable that many are agitated, upset, frustrated, and some are even angry. 

As Christians, how we respond during these times is critical. With the increasing social unrest and heightened sensitivity (especially online), we can either help or make matters worse, depending on what we say. Let’s keep in mind that we are called to honor God in every way, including our posts on social media. We are also called to be disciples and to make disciples, so we hope to set an example for everyone through what we say online. Colossians 4:5,6 commands us to: Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 

Before we post online, let’s remember that we are Christians first with a citizenship in heaven before we are citizens of our nation. If we do post, here are some questions we could ask ourselves: 

  • Will it honor God or just satisfy me?
    It would be good if we first check why we’re posting and what our goal is.
  • Will it help make disciples or discourage disciples?
    Let’s always keep discipleship in mind when we post. We can’t afford to be distracted from our mission to help others grow in their walk with God.
  • Will it build others up or tear them down?
    The criticism we provide can be constructive or destructive. We can determine who we are trying to address in our community, what kind of example the post will set, and who will be affected by the post. Consider also those who may be inadvertently affected.
  • Will it be a stepping stone or a stumbling block?
    We hope that the fruit of the Spirit is evident and abounding in the message and through our lives. Let’s not respond in anger (Ephesians 4:26) and lose our Christian witness through this.
  • Am I being led by the Spirit or the crowd?
    If we believe that God is telling us to speak up, then let’s do it. But let’s not just give in to pressure and post something. If we are being led by the crowd, we may not need to say it.
  • Is it based on facts or feelings?
    Specify, clarify, and qualify. Let’s not generalize and make blanket statements. Verify the facts before reacting (Proverbs 25:8). If we can’t get our facts straight, our credibility may be questioned. Let’s be clear about what we are really against. If not, the post can be easily misunderstood. If we are upset at one person, we probably just need to talk to the person instead of making a post.
  • Is it speaking against evil deeds or vilifying a person?
    Speak against evil and injustice, not people or personalities. Let’s determine if: we are holding people accountable or cursing authority; we are speaking life or wishing ill on people (Proverbs 18:21); the spirit by which we are speaking is upholding or reviling authority (Acts 23:5). Let’s remember that the battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), and there’s no point in vilifying or demonizing people who oppose our views. Remember, not everyone has to agree with you.

This crisis is challenging and overwhelming, but we can respond to it with faith and hope because we know that God is in control and this situation is not beyond Him. Let us continue to declare and demonstrate the gospel. We believe that what a fearful world needs now is a fearless church. Let’s continue to pray for our nation, serve our communities in any way we can, and believe for God’s amazing grace to turn this crisis around. As God’s people, in every dark and seemingly hopeless situation, we are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13–16).

#TaalRelief: A Volunteer Story

#TaalRelief: A Volunteer Story

The Taal Volcano eruption has left thousands of families in Batangas and nearby provinces displaced, distraught, and disheartened. But as the volcano’s strong internal unrest continues, an outpouring of help and support overflows from different individuals and volunteer groups—in spite of challenging situations.

Volunteering is not easy. It requires physical effort and a great deal of emotional strength. It takes a lot of resolve and courage to actually go out there and help affected families find hope and see God’s hand at work in the midst of pain and suffering.

But it takes an even greater strength from God to help and do what we can—even while facing loss ourselves.

Morris, one of our volunteers from Victory Lemery, has been going out of his way since last week to bring relief goods to affected families in Bauan and other nearby towns. But unknown to many, Morris himself is facing a heartbreaking tragedy.

Morris’s and his wife’s families in Bauan and Taal have also been affected by the calamity. But more than the devastating effects of the eruption, it was the recent passing of his wife that really took a toll on him and broke his heart. He has been silently dealing with the pain while taking part in our relief efforts in Batangas.

An old photo of Morris with his late wife and two daughters.

Morris’s wife, Katherine, passed away a few days before Taal’s eruption; she was buried a day before it all happened. Though mourning and still in pain, Morris braves the heartache knowing that God’s grace will always be sufficient.

Morris is now left with his two daughters and a two-month-old son. While still grappling with the loss of his wife, Morris believes that it shouldn’t stop him from reaching out. He is in faith that God will continue enabling him to help those who also lost a big part of their lives.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

As we monitor the situation in Taal, may we be inspired and encouraged to be God’s hands and feet no matter our circumstances. Let us rely on His grace and peace to calm our hearts as we continue to be in faith and believe for the best.

 

Like Morris and the rest of the volunteers from our South Luzon churches, you can also help affected communities in Batangas. Visit victory.org.ph/taalrelief to know more.