Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Ministry Trip 22-26 Jan 2015

We finally made it to Tacloban!

Our trip to Tanauan Leyte was planned for last September. But owing to the poor condition of the airport runway, we decided to postpone it to 22-26 Jan 2015. Little did we know that this would be directly after the papal visit one week earlier! As a result, the airport was spruced up and the entire town cleaned up. What a blessing for us!

This delay also allowed Ptr Joel Lerios to read more about my ministry in Kidapawan City in October 2014 where the message of Archippus Awakening was shared. I was then requested to bring the same message of awakening to Jesus Our Refuge Church through a one-day seminar on Saturday 24 Jan, aptly entitled “AWAKENED. ALIGNED. ASSIGNED.” [Read blogpost “Archippuses Awakened in Tanauan Leyte”]

At the Sunday service, the recipients of the BuildHope houses took turns to convey their thanks and appreciation. Other than my dad, Henry, and Christie who were present to receive their words of gratitude, I had to accept these on behalf of many others who did not make the trip but generously gave to this cause.

After that, the congregation had a surprise lined up for them. We had arranged with Ptr Joel in advance to bless the families of Jesus Our Refuge with gift packs of rice, sardines, corned beef, soap and biscuits. It was really wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the families as we distributed these packs to them.

We were not able to visit all 22 houses but I think we did quite well to cover as many as we could in the time allowable. With the light intermittent drizzle, the weather was extremely pleasant for us. My mother deserves a medal for gamely climbing in and out of the vehicle at every stop! At each house, we stood with the family to pray with and for them. To date, together with other contributors, a total of 48 houses has been built. The greater news is that many of the recipients have become cell leaders and groups meet in these houses every week. When Typhoon Hagupit hit last year, these houses passed the test and stood firm! There are also many testimonies of lives impacted and of friends and families being saved as they experienced the love and grace of Jesus Christ through this BuildHope Project of Jesus Our Refuge Church. We are so blessed and privileged to be able to participate in this!

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TEAM ARCHIPPUS (from left): Henson, Henry, Helen, Esther, Sarah, Linda, David, Christie.

In consultation with Ptr Joel, a couple sponsored a church van, now affectionately referred to as the “yellow car”. Members are encouraged to make their own way to church and after service, the church uses this van to send them home. Ptr Joel explained that this is to train discipline and commitment, which the church affirms and reciprocates by sending them home, making quite a few shuttle trips each week. Can you imagine such a system in Singapore? Haha! That said, the people had to make their own way back this weekend as the “yellow car” was used to ferry our Singaporean team around to visit the houses that weekend.

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We had a light moment as the five pedicabs we sponsored were lined up for a photo opportunity. After that, the riders gamely took us for a little spin around the block. Sure reminded me of our trishaw days in Singapore.

To all who have contributed to this cause, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to each and every one of you! I stand amazed at how the Lord has touched hearts to respond over the past year. It all began with a tug in my heart as I flipped the papers on the morning of 9 November, the day after Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through Tacloban. After connecting with Ptr Joel, all I did was blog about it and the Lord did the rest! Truly, if we would be faithful and obedient to His prompting, He can do wonderful things to bring love and hope to lives!

To God be the glory!!!

Related Posts:
House for the People of Tanauan Leyte
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building Starts Tomorrow
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building in Progress
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Pray for My Trip 20-24 March 2014
Houses for the People of Tanauan: Ministry Trip Report
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Target Reached & Surpassed
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: One Year On

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.comIf 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.

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Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: One Year On

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The Straits Times, Saturday, 8 November 2014.

Last Saturday, I didn’t realise that it has already been one year since Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) swept through the Philippines, devastating Tacloban in its path. Seeing the Facebook posts by Ptr Joel Lerios and the articles in The Straits Times helped to jolt my memory.

As shared in my very first post, Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: “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.”

One year later, it is good to note that the Philippines government has finally approved funds for the rebuilding of Tacloban. How the funds will be used and how long before this is implemented is anyone’s guess. All we know is that there are still many families displaced without homes nor hope. If the condition of Tacloban Airport is anything to go by, I suspect it might still be a while before any real plan or work begins on the ground.

Ptr Joel. with one of the BuildHope Houses.
Ptr Joel. with one of the BuildHope Houses.

To the glory of God, and entirely by His grace, together with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ*, we have been able to play a small part to bless the community in Tanauan, Leyte. Since connecting with Ptr Joel Lerios of Jesus Our Refuge Church in January, we have provided funds for the building of 22 BuildHope houses. For the growing needs of the church and community, funds were raised for a church van. And to help families start over again, we contributed five pedicabs. I am so thankful for the partnership of these sponsors who simply responded to my articles and updates. [*No names are mentioned because these prefer to remain anonymous that no attention is drawn to them.]

Dedication of Church Van
Dedication of Church Van
Sample of Pedicab that will enable members to earn a living.
Sample of Pedicab that will enable members to earn a living.

I know this amount pales in comparison to what international aid agencies have given and what other churches are doing. But as a personal initiative, I marvel at the grace of God and how He has led and blessed this effort. More than just meeting physical needs of the people, there is now a partnership between us and Jesus Our Refuge Church. We rejoice each time Ptr Joel reports on how the church has grown and how the people are being trained and discipled to be a blessing to their community. We are praying that the Lord will use Jesus Our Refuge Church in great and powerful ways for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached and manifested in Tacloban … and beyond!

A "welcome" poster created and displayed in expectation of our visit in September.
A “welcome” poster created and displayed in expectation of our visit in September.

Owing to the state of the airport runway in September, I postponed our trip to Tacloban.  This has been deferred to January 2015 and I am looking forward to visiting the 22 BuildHope homes and seeing our Pinoy brothers and sisters in Christ! What’s even more meaningful is that I will have an opportunity to share and teach at a one-day seminar and a night revival meeting. At the request of Ptr Joel, I will be bringing the message of Archippus Awakening to Tanauan Leyte! This is really exciting for me because Archippus Awakening is about God raising His people from the bottom up for His end-time Kingdom move. And we know how the Lord loves to use the weak things to reveal His power and glory (1 Cor 1:27)! For more on Archippus Awakening, please visit the our website and Facebook Page.

Once again, a word of thanks to all who have contributed and for being a part of this wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ. I know that your efforts and contributions are never in vain for God will surely richly reward that which is given up for the sake of His kingdom and the name of Jesus. Praise the Lord!!!

Related Posts:
House for the People of Tanauan Leyte
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building Starts Tomorrow
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building in Progress
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Pray for My Trip 20-24 March 2014
Houses for the People of Tanauan: Ministry Trip Report
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Target Reached & Surpassed

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.comIf 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.

Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Target Reached & Surpassed! And We are Not Stopping!

Proposed House Model Tanauan

This little sketch was all Ptr Joel had to go by. He had received this vision from the Lord one or two days before Ptr Zaldie (his former bible school student) connected us in January. And I was not the only one, for the Lord started leading others to Ptr Joel as he moved by faith to begin what is today known as the BuildHope Project.

10299920_899730656709761_6471502810096664464_nMy personal target was to raise funds to build 20 houses for families who have lost their homes; by end of 2014. To the praise and glory of God, this target was reached on Sunday 6 July when funds were received for House #19 and House #20! The next day, I received another email and funds were pledged for House #21! And we still have six months to go before we reach the end of the year! Truly, our God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we can ask or imagine!

Many thanks to all sponsors who have responded in obedience and with generosity as prompted by the Holy Spirit. All I have done is share the need and provided updates along the way. I have not asked or approached anyone. It is truly God who has moved in these hearts to give and to be a blessing to the people of Tanauan Leyte.

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Another item of praise is that since Ptr Joel’s church started this initiative to help and bless the community, showing love and bringing hope, the church has grown in numbers. Each Sunday, more and more people come and many are putting their faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, they have not only repaired the church building but are in the process of extending and enlarging it! I am so excited for them and am especially thrilled to learn of this because the word I preached when I was there in March was about “enlarging the tent”. How awesome to see this taking place within a few short months. Hallelujah!!!

And so, are we stopping? Not at all. There are still many families who live in temporary shelters and tents. If you’d like to participate in this initiative, you still can. It’s just S$2,500 to bless one family.

Please continue to pray for me and Ptr Joel as we work together. I am checking my schedule and dates and will be making another trip to Tanauan, Leyte soon (possibly September). This time, it will be a dedicated trip so that I can stay a little longer than my previous one-day stopover. On this trip, I will visit the families not just to check the houses but also to pray for them. Perhaps, there might even be an opportunity to minister to the church leaders and congregation too. Thanks for your prayers and support.

To God be the glory!!!

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.comIf 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.

Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Ministry Trip Report

I’m back and giving thanks and praise to the Lord for a very productive trip to the Philippines over the weekend!

Thankful for the support of my parents and family, seeing us off on Thursday.
Thankful for the support of my parents and family, seeing us off on Thursday.

Our team left for Manila on Thursday 20 March from Changi International Airport Terminal 2. I am so amazed at how God led these dear brothers to join me on this trip. I had intended to go alone, but as soon as I shared with TF – a brother I met when I spoke at AMKMC Church Camp last year – he indicated an interest to join me. And just about a month ago, another mutual friend, Swee Lim, decided to come along; and with him came his friend, Chua. These became my travelling companions and I benefited so much from them; including priority check-ins and entry into the SIA Lounge 🙂 But more seriously, it was great to fellowship with them and also to minister with them as I tagged along to Pampanga where we visited a very poor community that lives next to a recycling dumpsite on Friday 21 March.

We left Pampanga early on Saturday morning for Ninoy Aguino Airport Terminal 3. After a slight delay owing to bad weather, we boarded and soon departed for our 1hr 10min flight to Tacloban. As we approached to land, the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was clearly evident. The terminal building was not spared either. Baggage claim was done manually as the conveyor system was not working. Once we claimed our bags, we headed out and met Ps Joel Lerios, my local contact. Ps Zaldie was there with him too as I had invited him to join us – this was the pastor from Davao who connected me with Ps Joel. We made our way to our hotel in the light drizzle. Along the way, we passed by what would be a very common sight: broken trees blown and bent over, some uprooted, houses and building with no roofs, piles of debris and different tents from various relief agencies. That evening, we visited Ps Joel’s church, Jesus Our Refuge for a while before heading out to view some of the houses. It soon became dark so we returned to our hotel for an early night to rest.

The next morning it was pouring cats and dogs. I was picked up at 8am and made my way to Jesus Our Refuge Church in Tanauan, Leyte. The other three brothers had their own ministry engagements so I was alone for the day. When I reached the church, it was already full. I was told that before the storm, the attendance averaged 70. But after, it swelled to about 200. This morning, in view of guests from USA, Manila and Singapore (me), even more came. There was an expectation in the air as I stepped into the church. I got to meet Ps Jaren, a filipino American and his wife and team from Heights Worship Center in Los Angeles, California. This American church also contributed to build houses for the people. The other team of ten was from Manila, led by Ps Lumen. Theirs was a medical missions team. Next to these two big teams, I alone flew the Singapore flag that morning – haha!

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When service started at 9am, it was awesome. There was no amplification system and no band, just one worship leader on a guitar, so we could hear all the voices sing! It was really something and I knew God was in the house! After the introductions by the two team leaders, Ps Joel invited me on stage to share the first message (yes, there would be two messages that morning!). After seeing all the tents and temporary shelters, I knew I had to speak about the enlarging of the tent from Isaiah 54:2-3. I summoned all the voice I had since there was no microphone. Thankfully, the rain stopped for a while when I was preaching. Immediately after my message, Ps Joel made a salvation call and 40 responded to receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour! Praise the Lord! Ps Jaren delivered the next message and encouraged the people to rally behind Ps Joel as they sought to rebuild their home and lives! Using the armour of God imagery, Ps Jaren suited Ps Joel in construction outfit, complete with a chainsaw depicting the sword of the Spirit. It was such a powerful visual. Finally, he presented Ps Jaren with a box of nails – each nail was individually held by a church member and prayed over as they stood in unity with Ps Joel’s church. Wow!

After lunch, I was brought to view the six houses that we had sponsored. It was very meaningful for me to personally meet the families and to shake their hands. They shared how they lost their homes and some even had to battle for their lives as the winds blew and the waters rose so rapidly. As one sister moved to thank me, she broke down and cried uncontrollably. She was just so thankful that through this initiative and partnership, the Lord has blessed her family with a new home. I took the opportunity to pray for them and to bless their new homes. Although I received all the thanks, appreciation and gratitude, I made it very clear to the people that I was only a facilitator. These funds came from willing hearts who responded generously and obediently to the Lord’s prompting. To all who have contributed, a big thank you to you. Without doubt, you deserve to hear the words of thanks which I received on your behalf 🙂

It was a very short but packed journey. I have seen and learned so much. We may not understand how things are allowed to happen the way they do, at times bringing much pain and confusion. But it is clear that God has not left the people of Tanauan, Leyte to struggle on their own. The churches in that locale have all risen up and are revealing the love of Jesus to the community. The pastors have also come together to pray and to partner one another as they acknowledge the need to stand as one in these difficult times. Not only that, churches from different countries are chipping in and lending a hand, demonstrating that the Body of Christ is much larger than what we often accustomed to in our local churches. For sure, God is doing a new thing in Tacloban and out of these ashes, the people of God will rise again to make a difference.

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An impromptu shot I took from the moving van that captures the mood and tone of Tanauan

Our team left very early on Monday morning, back to Manila and then to Singapore. It was nice to touch down at Changi International Airport Terminal 3 and to return to my family; and my own bed. Even so, the images of Tacloban, of Tanauan, remain deeply etched in my mind. I have never quite understood it but the people of Philippines has always held a special place in my heart. God willing, I pray that this partnership will continue to grow and blossom in the days ahead. In the meantime, I am praying for more to respond to this BUILD HOPE project. My personal vision is 20 houses by the end of this year. To date, we have contributed 6 houses; so that’s another 14 to go. If the Lord is touching your heart and moving you to respond, let me know please! Every dollar counts. Although some have given enough for one house, some have also contributed according to what they are comfortable with. I simply pool the funds and when the amount is sufficient for one house, I inform Ptr Joel and he nominates the family. It’s that simple 🙂

Finally, I want to acknowledge all who have prayed for me and also supported me on this trip. Thank you for your partnership in the ministry. I am also very thankful for Serene’s support in this venture. In releasing me to travel, she has had to manage our household for five days on her own. I thank God for keeping her and the children safe.

To God be all glory!

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.comIf 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.

Related Posts:
House for the People of Tanauan Leyte
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building Starts Tomorrow
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building in Progress
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Pray for My Trip 20-24 March 2014

Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Pray for My Trip 20-24 March 2014

This simple drawing was what Ptr Joel started with, plus a heart full of love and compassion for the people of Tanauan Leyte:

Proposed House Model TanauanEach house costs about Php82,000 (material & labour), just under S$2,500, and takes about 12 days to build. The plan is to construct at least 20 such houses this year. These are not limited to Ptr Joel’s 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.”

Since connecting with Ptr Joel in January, we have communicated very well. By God’s grace, people have also responded to this initiative. To date, four houses are being built and work has just begun on the 5th house. See how one simple drawing that the Lord gave to Ptr Joel has translated into new homes for families there. Praise the Lord!

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The very first house completed!
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The second house making great progress.
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The third house taking shape.
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The fourth house that will soon replace the shelter within.

I will be making a trip to Tanauan Leyte next week over the weekend of 22-23 March. The plan is to visit the families and to view the houses. I will also worship at Ptr Joel’s church, Jesus Our Refuge Church, on Sunday. I hope to be able to provide a more comprehensive and detailed report when I return on Monday 24 March. Covet your prayers as we fly to Manila (20-21 March) and then to Tacloban. It’s my very first time there and I am so thankful that the Lord has led three brothers to join me so I won’t have to travel alone. Thank you for praying!!!

My prayer is that more will be moved to contribute to this project so that more families can be blessed and experience the love of Jesus. If the Lord is touching your heart and moving you to respond, let me know please! Every dollar counts. Although some have given enough for one house, some have also contributed according to what they are comfortable with. I simply pool the funds and when the amount is sufficient for one house, I inform Ptr Joel and he nominates the family. It’s that simple 🙂 Thank you for reading and for prayerfully considering. God bless you!

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.comIf 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:
House for the People of Tanauan Leyte
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building Starts Tomorrow
Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building in Progress

Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building in Progress

Since my last post update, Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Building Starts Tomorrow, Ptr Joel has sent me some pictures of the building work. As I reviewed the pictures, my heart leapt with excitement to be a part of this rebuilding exercise for those affected by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.

I thank God for prompting me not to rush but to wait and to work directly with the locals. As I wrote in my initial post, Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte, “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.” An article in The Straits Times on Wednesday 5 Feb 2014, confirmed this, “Nearly three months after the storm hit on Nov 8, this once thriving university town and provincial capital shows relatively few signs of economic recovery despite an international rescue effort.”

Through God’s divine connections, I have made a new friend in Ptr Joel and we are communicating well and moving forward together in the rebuilding project for the people of Tanauan Leyte. Other than this first house, two more houses have been pledged, bringing the total to three houses so far. The target is 20 houses. I am really looking forward to making the trip to Tacloban-Tanauan Leyte on the weekend of 20-24 March. The air tickets and hotel accommodation have all been booked. God willing, I will get to see the houses and also meet the families. It will also be a wonderful experience worshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ that weekend too!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! Truly, nothing compares to being God’s instrument of blessing that more may know of His love and grace through Jesus Christ!

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 @ S$2,500 each, 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.

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