2014 Philippines – Natalie

Praise You in the Storm

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” -John 3:8

Going on missions this winter season held a special significance for me because this is the first trip I went in response to the grace that God has shown me in the past semester. The Lord had encountered and transformed me through Emmaus Campus Ministry. I had freely received, and now I wanted to freely give. With this heart I signed up to go, not knowing at all what to expect, but with a deep revelation that the Gospel has the power to change lives.
When I first heard about my team members, I felt apprehensive as many of them were pastors, intern pastors and active leaders- which in my mind meant they were missions veterans. I on the other hand was just a well-meaning, and somewhat naïve, newcomer. Nevertheless, the anticipation of seeing how God would move (and how He would equip me for every good work) overrode any feelings of incompetence. Soon I felt more comfortable and realized that God had placed me on a trip with many spiritual authorities from whom I could learn a great deal.
Arriving at the airport in Cebu, we hit the ground running. This trip was packed with traveling and ministry time, and throughout the trip, rolling with the punches was exemplified as the schedule changed every day. But through the grace of God, we were able to carry out His will with ease. Every moment was truly a joy for all of us.
When we emerged from the airport, two big surprises caught me off guard. Originally I had imagined the pastor we were working with to be a well-seasoned middle-aged man. But to my surprise he was a bright young man, only a few years older than myself, with an awesome hairstyle. The story behind his hair was a funny one. While at the barber, he had received a phone call pertaining to church matters that required him to leave in the middle of his haircut, leaving the top part unfinished. However, unbeknownst to him, the “unfinished” haircut was actually a style that many Korean celebrities now intentionally get. It was almost like a fun prophetic sign. Here we have a truly faithful man – one willing to drop everything and go – and God has definitely blessed him with more than he expected. The biggest surprise however, was seeing Samonim – the director of Native Partners for World Mission (NPWM, the organization through which we were sent to the field) – waiting for us at the airport. We had no idea she would be joining us in the Philippines! Although I was quite tired through our travels, it put a smile to my face to realize that she exemplified Christ in the aspect of His omnipresence.
One particular ministry moment that stuck out to me was when we arrived at Four Square Church – one of the local churches in the area of Leyte – expecting to hold a joint revival service. As we were walking towards the church, it felt like I was walking on holy ground, and it reminded me of when Moses approached the burning bush that was filled with the presence of God. In the Spirit, I felt that we were about to walk into something great. However, when we got there, I was momentarily perplexed because rather than a large congregation waiting for a revival service, there was humble gathering of women sitting in a circle in the middle of a torn-down church. This was a band of intercessors. These women had been meeting regularly to intercede for their nation as well as other nations around them. They had been faithfully crying out to the Lord. Apparently there was a schedule mix-up, but really it was God’s divine appointment. As His presence showed up powerfully that day, God showed me that it was really these small, humble prayer meetings that have power to change a nation. God really convicted me that day that His agenda for the trip was not limited to only bringing inner healing from the trauma of Typhoon Haiyan. He was showing me the strength and faithfulness of His people. The Lord was making it very clear that our team had been sent as vessels to increase a fire that was already burning brightly.
Through this short but powerful week in the Philippines, God has given me deeper revelations of truths that I knew about but now have personally witnessed. A church is so much more than a building. Many churches have been demolished as a result of the storm. But truly, it is where two or more people gather in His name, that His presence abounds. And in this way, the body of Christ can never be shaken. Perfect love casts out all fear. It is only through trust in God’s unconditional love that a family can watch their entire home torn apart by the violent winds of a typhoon while singing praises to Him huddled in the corner of their kitchen. The joy of the Lord is the strength of His people. Being able to smile genuinely, give generously and have hope for the future rather than being consumed by the devastation of the storm goes beyond blind optimism. It is something supernatural that can be found in God. As God’s people, we are all prisoners of hope. Proverbs 14:32 it states, “When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.” The people of Isabel City really challenged me to question myself: Can I praise God in the storm?
I feel to blessed to have been a part of a wonderful week of ministry in the Philippines. Our team was able to hold services at Jesus Flock Church (our church base), encourage various local pastors at their devastated churches, witness baptisms on the world’s most beautiful island, and spread the joy of the Gospel in elementary schools. In addition, we were able to have a God-appointed visit at the home of a lady in Tacloban (the city most devastated by the typhoon), where we were able to witness her salvation and pray for her father (the first prayer he received in all 80+ years of his life). And this is just a taste of how the Lord is moving in this nation.
Please continue to pray for Philippines, particularly for Isabel City and Tacloban as a lot of rebuilding and healing still needs to be done. Also, pray that more people would come to Jesus as their true Healer. Pray that through the Church, the nation will be rebuilt with Jesus as their true foundation. Pray that God will make all things new and rid the land of government corruption and instead replace it with the clarity of the Gospel.
Thank you for partnering with me in prayer and finances. It is really through all your support that we were able to bring in the healing power of the Gospel with ease and joy. The blessings and invaluable lessons that I learned this trip is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Leave a Reply