Filipino church offers sanctuary during typhoon

Women and children take sanctuary inside the Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban City, Philippines, after Typhoon Urduja, also known as Kai-Tak, struck the area on Dec. 16. Three persons reportedly died and thousands of families were driven from their homes by floods and landslides. Photo courtesy of Iris Picardal-Terana and Ronnel Tuscano de Juan, Light and Life United Methodist Church.
Women and children take sanctuary inside the Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban City, Philippines, after Typhoon Urduja, also known as Kai-Tak, struck the area on Dec. 16. Three persons reportedly died and thousands of families were driven from their homes by floods and landslides. Photo courtesy of Iris Picardal-Terana and Ronnel Tuscano de Juan, Light and Life United Methodist Church.

A Philippines church resurrected after a major typhoon in 2013 provided sanctuary to others during floods brought by a recent storm.

On Dec. 16, in the midst of strong winds and heavy rains, Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban City served as an evacuation place for church members and some six families from the community whose houses were flooded during Typhoon Urduja, also known as Kai-Tak.  

Three persons reportedly died and thousands of families were driven from their homes by floods and landslides that resulted from the typhoon.

Light and Life United Methodist Church has endured the devastation brought by the category 5 storm Yolanda (Haiyan), which wiped out the city in 2013. In 2016, the church celebrated its 10th anniversary.

“(Light and Life) continues to live up to its name as it embodies open arms, open doors, open minds, making disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” said the Rev. Iris Picardal-Terana during the 10th anniversary celebration. Picardal-Terana is an ordained deacon and family outreach officer of Sailors’ Society.

When the typhoon hit on Dec. 16, the church opened its doors to the people in the community. “The church accommodated more than 50 people, with age ranges from 4 months old to 55. They stayed overnight at the altar with candlelight,” Picardal-Terana said.

The sign for the Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban City, Philippines, lies on the ground in front of the building after Typhoon Urduja brought strong winds and rain to the area on Dec. 16. The church served as an evacuation place for church members and some six families from the community whose houses were flooded. Photo courtesy of Iris Picardal-Terana and Ronnel Tuscano de Juan, Light and Life United Methodist Church.

The sign for the Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban City, Philippines, lies on the ground in front of the building after Typhoon Urduja brought strong winds and rain to the area on Dec. 16. The church served as an evacuation place for church members and some six families from the community whose houses were flooded. Photo courtesy of Iris Picardal-Terana and Ronnel Tuscano de Juan, Light and Life United Methodist Church.

 

Evacuees helped clean up the space. “They had it cleaned and dried up because heavy rains penetrated the church's roof and water ran and passed through the wall,” she explained. "After drying up they laid their mats, which they brought with them as they left their homes, and got some sleep."

Picardal-Terana said that she is thankful that Urduja was not as strong as Yolanda in 2013.

"It is good the winds stopped blowing that night. Had it been stronger like Yolanda, the glass windows of the church (would) have broken." 

Ronnel Tuscano de Juan, former United Methodist youth fellowship president and current chairman of the board of trustees of Light and Life church, said everyone was fine now, but flooding was a problem.

While Typhoon Urduja pummeled Tacloban City, they evacuated to the church, he said, “but unfortunately even the church has water inside due to the roof leaks."

A strong spirit led them to work together to remove the water from the floor.

"The spirit of everyone is stronger than typhoon Urduja. We immediately did something to clean the altar and have it dried so everyone could rest,” he said.

“It was really a sanctuary." 

Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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