PBS’s God is Our Shelter Program Returns to Bohol, Cebu, Leyte
Where Bibles are needed, there the Bible Society will be also.
Last June 30, the Philippine Bible Society responded to such a need by sending a team on a five-day mission trip to distribute Bibles and other Scripture materials and plastic monoblock chairs to disaster-affected areas in the Visayas region. This is under PBS’s God is our Shelter Program, made possible through the partnership with the United Bible Societies and local donors.
The team, composed of General Secretary Dr. Nora Lucero, Marketing Manager Perry Cartera, Regional Manager for the Visayas Dolorita Monera, and Communications Assistant Julie Ann Grace Virata, went to the town of Tubigon in Bohol, San Remigio in Cebu, and the City of Ormoc in Leyte. They were able to distribute more than 30,400 Scripture materials and 2,000 pieces of plastic monoblock chairs to 150 churches in the three distribution areas. This includes around 7,200 copies of the Bible donated by the Korean Bible Society, under the leadership of its General Secretary Eui Hyun Kwon. These Bibles were especially printed for the disaster-stricken families of Typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake.
In Bohol, the team partnered with Pastor Gary and Christie Templado of the Christian Gospel Church in Tubigon, Bohol, a town 54 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City. The Templados were just some of the many affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that scarred not only the beautiful landscape but houses, buildings and a lot of old churches. The massive temblor also collapsed parts of the parsonage of Pastor Gary’s church. Yet, despite this, he and his family served as a strong anchor for many individuals and organizations in the area, even opening their church to serve as a temporary evacuation center where relief goods were stored and distributed.
“The earthquake would have discouraged us more had the Word of God not been there to give us the strength we needed to face the challenges,” related Pastor Gary. He also thanked PBS and the Korean Bible Society, on behalf of the pastors in Tubigon, for the Bibles that they received, as well as Scripture materials, such as ‘Paglaom Taliwala sa Trahedya’ (Hope in the Midst of Tragedy) booklet and Cebuano Jesus Comics that can minister to children.
From Bohol, the team took a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride to Cebu City. After docking, the team traveled another three hours to return to the town of San Remigio in the northern part of Cebu province. As this was the Bible Society’s second distribution in the town, many of the repeat recipients were happier as they received chairs and Scripture materials aside from the Bibles. Through the help of Pastor Triffon Brady of Hope Baptist Church of San Remigio, the team was able to provide Scripture materials and plastic monoblock chairs to 50 churches in the area.
One of the recipients, Rev. Maria Belinda Pevida of the Shekinah Fellowship Center, Assembly of God, shared her struggle as a pastor and how the donated Bibles will help their church. “Being a pioneering pastor, it is very hard to minister if we lack the tools with which we can share the Word of the Lord. We have no Bibles to give our members. So when we learned that PBS was going to distribute Bibles in our area, we came. The Scripture materials and the plastic chairs that we got today will greatly help us minister to our communities,” she said.
The next day, the team traveled to Ormoc City for the third and final leg of the mission trip. They ended up staying an extra day to serve the 67 pastors from in and around the city following a delay in the shipment of the chairs.
As the team spoke with the recipients, it became evident to them that the Bible distribution brought them new found hope and joy. These church leaders, many of whom were trying to rebuild their respective places of worship were very much encouraged by the Bibles, Scripture materials and plastic monoblock chairs that they received. “What we received today will really go a long way, especially the chairs, as we only have three remaining in our church,” One Way Christian Fellowship Pastor Roy Caliñada shared.
Despite the scourge of disaster, these pastors remain positive, believing that the disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan also heralded a harvest season, with a lot of churches witnessing more souls returning to the Lord all over the province.
Pastor Jim Fantonilla from Words of Life Ministries of Merida, Leyte reported a spike in membership following the calamity. This was in spite of their temporary church collapsing. With the increasing number of attendees, Pastor Jim said that they now temporarily conduct services in a house church where they can all be accommodated.
“We are truly grateful for the new copies of the Bible as the typhoon washed away our old ones. And the chairs are truly a blessing as we need more of them to be able to serve new followers of Christ who continue to join our ranks,” he said.
God be praised for the joy of His Word and the partnerships established to bring this Living Word to people’s hearts and lives.