2014 Philippines – Anne Weiss

Joy Springs Forth

“Though the sorrow may last for the night, rejoicing comes with the morning.” -Psalm 30:5

In preparing for this missions trip to the Philippines, no one on our team quite knew what to expect. We were told that we were going to go to minister in a city affected by Typhoon Haiyan. So we prayed for inner healing and for a true revelation of God the Father to be released in the areas hit by this superstorm. Then the team found out later on that our mission field was specifically Isabel City on the island of Leyte, which was the island most devastated by the Typhoon Haiyan. With a renewed sense of purpose and aware of the storm’s destruction, we expected to walk into a broken land full of sorrow and despair. But instead we found a people who, while were surrounded by devastation, were full of unquenchable joy.

When the team first arrived on Leyte, we had to ride down to Isabel on an hour-long van ride. Holy Spirit led us to sing worship songs as we looked out the window and saw the devastation brought on by Haiyan. There was a somberness yet a lining of hope that we could not quite understand. When the team finally arrived in Isabel, we met the members of Jesus’ Flock Church, our primary partner ministry in the field. We were surprised to see that these congregation members were not beat down from the hurricane. Rather their faith and trust in God had been built up even more. They had a joy that was coming from deep within.

Throughout the week our team was able to see how the people of Isabel City depend on God, and how the depth of His joy is truly within them. This community takes great joy in simple things like telling and listening to stories. Furthermore when the Christians of Isabel City worship or talk about the Lord, it is easy to see that He is their true source of joy. To see them in communion with the Lord is like seeing somebody with their best friend: someone that the person loves being with; someone who encourages, protects, and cares for them. Truly the believers of Isabel City know what it means for the joy of the Lord to be their strength, and what it means to walk in great intimacy with Jesus.

On one of our last nights, the team sat around with the church members and watched a short documentary of the typhoon. Turning to one of the girls, I asked how it felt to live through the storm. The girl replied that it was like watching something that had happened to someone else. She remembered the strength of the wind and how it felt like everything was going to fall apart. She recalled that in that moment, there was nothing that she or the rest of her family could do except turn to God and trust that He was going to pull through. It was by surviving dramatic situations such as these that the faith of many believers were refined and immeasurably strengthened.
In comparison to our ministry in the churches, our school outreaches were marked by a definite heaviness. The students were somber and the teachers were carrying a sense of lasting pain. It seemed like people had not yet been able to release the trauma of the typhoon. Yet, as our team led everyone in song and dance, people seemed to open up. As these hearts were softened, the power of the testimony and the Word of God would go out. At the end of each school outreach, there was a noticeable difference in the students’ faces and in the teacher’s openness. We could really sense a release given to them by the Lord. Our desire now is to see full healing and restoration manifest.
In the midst of all of the destruction that hit the island of Leyte, in all of the destruction that the people saw, there was nothing that could quench the joy of the Lord in His people. As God’s power was released, the people moved in a supernatural and unstoppable joy. The Word of God set the people free to be glad in Him. Those who already knew God were able to see Him as their source and cling to Him all the more.

As we remember the people of Leyte, let us pray for them in the following ways:
1) Pray that they would continue to seek the protection and power of the Lord. When the people of Leyte are in Him, they will remain protected and loved. The Lord is the source of their joy.
2) Pray that as this community rebuilds their homes and lives, that they will never fall into despair or futility. Instead declare that they will remember that their hope is not in the things of this world, but in the Lord who is faithful yesterday, today, and forever.

Thank you for sending out this team with prayer and financial support to the people of the Philippines. We really got to operate in the ministry of God’s presence; we spent time with these communities and wanted to hear their stories. As we listened and celebrated with them, we could not help but catch the Joy that Springs Forth from deep within.

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