Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte

House

It would not be a pretty picture at all. Weeks ahead of its arrival, there was already talk of how huge this super typhoon would be and how it would devour and wreck everything (and sadly everyone too) in its path of fury. And yet, regardless the warnings, the preparations and the evacuations, when Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) finally swept through the Philippines on 8 Nov 2013, it left in its trail scores of lives lost, persons missing and homes destroyed.

This was what I woke up to the day after the Super Typhoon hit. It was the main story in The Straits Times and the pages were just filled with photos of devastation and loss, especially in Tacloban City. As my eyes scanned the pictures, a desire arose in my heart to visit the place and to help the people of Philippines in any small way I could. At that time, I didn’t know when or how.

In the next days and weeks, humanitarian and relief efforts mounted up and funds poured in. Singapore did her part along with other nations who gave thousands of dollars directly and through established agencies like Red Cross and World Vision. Somehow, I was not moved to contribute. Deep within me, I knew that regardless these there would still be pockets of locals who would have to wait for quite a while before anything reaches them – if at all*. It was clear to me not to begin anything but to wait for the media and publicity frenzy to abate. As with most major catastrophes, people are stirred for a moment and then promptly forget as the next big thing unfolds. But the rebuilding of lives and homes takes more than a few weeks; it would take years.

I started communicating with my pastor friend in Davao City. I shared my strategy with him and he readily agreed that we should wait, make a proper assessment of the local needs and then move in to help at least for the medium term. He connected with me another pastor in Davao whose hometown was flattened by the super typhoon (thankfully, his family are all ok). After our initial exchange, he made a trip to Tacloban and touched base with a local pastor from Tanauan Leyte. I have since been introduced to Ptr Joel and we have discussed a few details. It’s taken a while but I am now ready to share my heart a little more. This is what this post is about.

There are still many in Tanauan, Leyte (about 18km from Tacloban) who are surviving in make-shift shelters. Click here to view photos of the damage caused by Haiyan. Ptr Joel’s intention is to begin building houses, one at a time, to help these families. Each house costs about Php82,000 (material & labour), just under S$2,500, and takes about 12 days to build (see Building Plan below). The idea is to construct at least 20 such houses this year. These are not limited to his church members only but will be extended to others in need too, whether Christians or not. In his own words, “My goal with this project is to provide decent homes for my members and also reach the unbelievers who lost their homes. And disciple them to become Christians.”

Proposed House Model Tanauan

Ptr Joel would like me to visit Tanauan as soon as possible so that I can have a better feel on-site. However, my schedule only permits me to make this trip in March. So that there is no further delay, I decided that I will personally transfer funds for one house first so that Ptr Joel can proceed building. When I get there in March, God willing, I will get to see this house plus survey the general condition so that I can share more. I believe that as I sow this seed of faith, God will move others to respond likewise 🙂

Please pray for me as I undertake this little project as directed by the Lord. By His grace, He has already led a brother to me who is willing to join me on this trip over the weekend of 20-24 March so I don’t have to travel to this unknown place alone. The plan is to fly to Manila and then to Tacloban. I am trusting the Lord to provide the necessary funds for both the travel expenses and the houses.

I just spoke with a Filipino pastor this morning, 26 Jan 2014, and he confirmed that people on the ground are struggling on a day to day basis. He explained that the reason for the slow distribution of food and supplies aid is unfortunately political.

If you’d like to partner me to contribute to this re-building initiative to bless the people of Tanauan Leyte, please email me at brohenson@gmail.com. Please do not send funds yet as all I require at this point is an indication of interest (amount, number of house/s, etc). I will get in touch with you after my visit to Tanauan. If you know of others who might like to participate, please feel free to share this post with them via email, Facebook or Twitter. My request is that they let me know how and through whom they came to know of this so I have an idea of the source of referral.

Thanks for your support and co-labour in the work of the ministry so that together we can do more to bring hope to the people of Tanauan Leyte in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

NOTE: This project is strictly undertaken on a personal basis and not affiliated to any church, ministry or organisation hence funds will be directed to my personal account. As such, if you are not comfortable with that, it is perfectly ok. I will do my best to provide information and details, and to remain accountable to those who are led to contribute to this cause. Thank you.

Updates:
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building Starts Tomorrow
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building in Progress

Building. Shaking. Filling.

The Lord laid this message on my heart in Nov 2008, just after the sub-prime crisis that triggered a worldwide economic recession.  I had faithfully shared it at various congregations, urging the people of God to recognise the signs of the times, at the same time encouraging everyone that God in still in control.  Today, as I observe the happenings and events taking place around the world, I realise that this message is still so relevant; and the times even more urgent.  It is with this burden on my heart that I am making this message available on the web …

In the first chapter of Haggai, we understand that people of Judah were busy with their own personal agendas and well-being.  The foundation of temple laid in 537BC, but up until 520BC, there was very little progress in rebuilding the temple.  However, the busier they were, the busier they got.  The moment they acquired something, they lost it through “leaks”.  Sadly, not much has changed.  In today’s society, we are still as busy, if not busier.  Christians need to discern and understand the times and respond accordingly.  God is about to move in a mighty way!  But are we prepared for God’s move?  From Haggai 2:4-9, the Lord showed me three points, BUILDING-SHAKING-FILLING, that we must take heed of and pay attention to.

1. BUILDING

‘Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, and work, for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ Haggai 2:4-5

The first thing that we must concern ourselves with is the building of the temple.  By this, I am not talking about church buildings and monuments.  Today, you and I are the temple of the Holy Spirit; we are the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16)!  When God calls for the building of the temple, He is referring to the maturing of sons and daughters of God.  He is calling for men and women of God to be raised up as pillars of His House in these final days (Heb 3:6).

Be strong, be strong, be strong!  For sure, the building process is not an easy one, hence the exhortation of us to be strong.  Our tendency is to be strong in ourselves, our talents and our abilities.  The moment we are called to be strong, we rush out to do things for God in the best way we know how!  But that is not right at all, for that is man’s way and the world’s way.  We are, instead, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph 6:10) and in the grace that is found only in Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:1).  It is in recognising our own weakness that we will rely on His strength and His grace! It is when we are weak that we are strong … let the weak say I am strong!  For He gives power to the weak (Isa 40:29) and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  As in the book of Acts, our reliance on His great grace unleashes His great power (Acts 4:33)!

There is work to be done!  The foundation of the temple has already been laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:10).  Now, it’s time to build the temple of God!  Today, we individually and collectively are the temple of God; to be built up on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

But don’t mistake this as a call to ministry.  The work to be done is not the good works that bring many a sense of belonging and personal glory even.  Instead, it is a call for each to be built up in Christ, to mature and to grow up in Christ.  Contrary to the popular and consumer-oriented gospel that prevails in churches today, spiritual maturity requires work!  Don’t be lulled and fooled into believing that because of the grace of God, any other effort brings you into working for your salvation and righteousness.  Make no mistake, it takes hard work to pray, to fast, to read bible, to be silent, to have solitude, to deny self, to carry cross, to exercise towards godliness, to live simply, to forgive, to confess, to sacrifice, to praise, to worship, to be equipped, TO GROW!!!  Out of this, ministry and service is a natural progression!

Here’s the good news!  As we work, God works with us for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!”  He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us, to comfort us, to enable us.  The building will not be by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord!  (Zech 4:6)

God is waiting to partner us in this effort.  For sure, we can’t do it on our own.  However, we are expected to put in effort, working out our salvation (Phil 2:12) by exercising our faith through obedience.  What we WORK OUT, GOD will WORK IN.  As we work it out, God works in us – this is known as the effective working of His power (Eph 1:19; 3:7; 4:15,16).  Oh, how many have rendered His power ineffective through sin, disobedience, unbelief, fleshly living, religiosity, tradition, pride, complacency, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc

Do not fear!  God knows the building and maturing process will not be easy and will take time.  He knows that fears will come in to challenge and replace the faith in our hearts.  God reminds us, “Do not fear!!!”

Do not be afraid of your own inadequacies, your past hurts and disappointments.  Stop telling yourself you cannot or you’re not good enough.  Do not be afraid of men, of their comments and remarks.  Disregard their taunts and teasing.  Ignore their words (however well-meaning they may appear to be).  Listen to and stand only on the Word of God.  Do not be afraid of the enemy and his distractions and attacks.  He is a defeated foe and has no power or authority over you.  You are a child of God and a servant of the Most High God!  Resist him and he will have to flee (James 4:7).

All these will discourage and hinder us, and even cause us to give up in our spiritual walk.  Keep working at building the temple, keep growing, keep pressing in, keep drawing close to God.  Stay focused and don’t be distracted by the trappings of the world!

But more than anything else, do not fear the shaking that is coming soon.  If you are secure in your relationship with God, you have nothing to fear!!!  If not, there is much to fear!

2. SHAKING

” For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,…” Haggai 2:6-7a

YET ONCE MORE, God will shake.  All through history, we see God’s shaking.  Every move of God establishes His kingdom and purposes.  But man tries to manage and to protect that experience, thereby limiting God and turning that into human organization and effort.  Over time, it becomes religion and rituals, a form of godliness without power (2 Tim 3:5).  God will shake again.  In fact, the shaking has already begun and it will only get more intense.

More and more, we will see God shake the world’s kingdoms.  The world and its systems are under the influence of the enemy and God will expose these.  God will also shake our own kingdoms, our security systems and comfort zones.  Our theological positions, doctrines and beliefs will not be spared.  The Lord has also shown me that He will shake religiosity and idolatry out of the Church!

Look at all the signs and be wise to it.  Global warming is a hot topic.  Its impact on the climate and ecology is now affecting economies and that will impact financial systems!  This must happen, for the situation must become so desperate that a New World Order will be accepted.  And that will affect you and me.  No one will escape the shaking.

But thank God that we have no need to fear because we have received a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:28).  The question to ask is if we have been living as true Kingdom subjects or have we just been content with church membership?  We have no need to fear because in and through the shaking, God will be our strength and shelter (Joel 3:16).  “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10  All these point to relationship not religion!  We have no need to fear because God’s economy still stands.  In Haggai 2:8, God declares that the silver and the gold are still His!  Regardless what may happen to the economy, our trust is in the Lord.  Our provision comes from Him.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall never be in lack (Psalm 23:1).

Instead of focussing on the shaking and being distracted by the shaking, we must concentrate on the building of our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.  It is in the raising up that matured sons and daughters will be able to withstand and go through the shaking.

3. FILLING

” … and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. … ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:7b & 9

Not only do we not have to fear the shaking, we can look forward to a tremendous promise: Every temple that is built up and growing towards maturity will be filled with the fullness and the glory of God!!!

This prophecy belongs to us!!!  No other temple after Solomon’s Temple exceeded in glory … not Ezra’s Temple … not Herod’s Temple.  There is only one other temple and that’s us!  When Jesus told the Jews that He would raise up the temple after three days, He was speaking of the temple of His body (John 2:19-21).  We are the Temple who will be filled with God’s glory!

This glory will surpass even the glory that filled Solomon’s temple!  When that happened in 2 Chr 5:14 & 7:1,2, the priests could not stand and could not minister.  But I believe that when God’s glory fills us this time, we will move out in power to minister and to reveal His glory in its fullness!  It is no co-incidence that so many other ministers of God are preaching about the glory and about moving in the supernatural.  God is raising up an army that will carry His glory to the nations!  There will be signs and wonders!  There will be deliverance!  There will be breakthroughs!  There will be PEACE … shalom, restoration and rest!

This must happen for the world is getting darker and darker.  The words of Isaiah 60:2 remind us, “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”  Against this dismal backdrop, the light must shine.  In fact, the light has already come!  The preceding verse in Isaiah declares, “Arise, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”

May the Church be in slumber no more.  There is work to be done in each of our lives and relationships with the Lord.  The temple of the Lord must be raised up that we can stand firm and not be shaken whatever the world throws at us.  Let us look to the promise of His glory, the inhabitation of His temple!  What a promise!

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Hab 2:14