2014 Philippines – Noble Salminen

Rebuilding Through Relationships: Life After the Storm

“Return to your stronghold, o prisoners of hope. Today I declare that I will restore to you double.” -Zech. 9:12

It’s such a blessing to share with you the wonderful work that God has done through us! My team and I were sent by your generous financial support, by your prayer and fasting. I’m thankful to say that God had His way on this missions trip and I truly realized the power of the global “body of Christ.” I am excited to share with you the work God did through our team.

The people of the typhoon battered island of Leyte have suffered through the strongest Typhoon ever recorded. They have lost most of their material things and are still dealing with the trauma of the destruction and loss of life. Yet the Christian community carries a supernatural gratitude and hope. Our team began our ministry in Isabel City at Jesus’ Flock Church, founded by Pastor Daniel and led by his disciple Pastor Jeremaiah. Pastor Daniel is a powerful evangelist and church planter. He is a man “sold out for Jesus” his testimony and his faithfulness to the Lord allowed for us to minister to the people of Leyte. It was beautiful to see the mutual edification between our ministries as we went out to be Jesus’ hands and feet!

The team spent our days ministering at local elementary schools. We led the children in song and dance, sharing stories of hope and strength, and fed them as well. There was a supernatural joy that was released in the schools, as we all jumped and danced for Jesus! During this time we were also able to confront the fear and worry caused by the trauma of the Typhoon. As we spent time with them it was powerful to see the children release their emotional trauma and exchange it for the love and courage offered in Jesus. You could physically see the change in their countenance. In all we ministered to around 500 students and we saw more than 100 come to believe in Jesus as their Savior!

During the afternoons and evenings our team preached, shared personal testimonies, and worshiped at many churches in and around Isabel City. Most of the churches were destroyed by the typhoon, and yet they were in the process of rebuilding! We saw God’s heart pour out for His people with many falling under the power of the Holy Spirit and much joy being released upon the congregations!

Throughout all our ministry time, Jesus’ Flock church was at our side. These brothers and sisters blessed us crazy immensely and one young man in particular, Alfon, truly exhibited Christ’s love for us. Alfon was the young man in charge of planning our meals. He and his team of chefs would wake up at 4 am and cook amazing food for us all. Alfon shared with me that it was his joy and honor to cook for us because he knew that cooking was a gift that God gave him. It was his ministry and he did it with excellence! To our team’s surprise, we were able to spend one day on a beautiful tropical island called Kalankan-man where we enjoyed sweet fellowship on God’s beautiful creation. We also took part in the baptism of 4 new members of Jesus’ Flock church and Alfon was one of those baptized! This intimate time was such a blessing and a chance for our relationships to grow stronger. I realized that God brought us together for a greater purpose that we could even imagine and that Kingdom relationships we were being built for His glory!

The following day we were scheduled to travel to Tacloban City, which received the worst damage and had the largest loss of life due to the Typhoon. The team sure how we were going to minister because our schedule wasn’t solidified. Yet, by God’s grace that P. Daniel met a woman on the ferry as he was bringing our team from the airport to the mission field. This lady, named Bess, lived in centeral Tacloban and invited the team to her house and her neighborhood.

Bess and her family come from a Catholic background. She talked about her struggles with unforgiveness and sin and also shared of the trauma of surviving the catastrophe of the Typhoon. Dealing with the property damage, the dead bodies, and the food shortage was so overwhelming. However she was grateful for the good things that remained. She said, “It helps seeing people like you from all over the world coming to help us. It gives us hope.” At that, Sharon, our team member from Living Hope, shared her life story. This led to Pastor David sharing the Gospel, emphasizing that salvation starts with a personal relationship with Jesus. Bess’ heart was so open. As she was praying with Pastor David Ahn and receiving Jesus, her father Jose, while lying on his sick bed in the adjacent room, raised his hands and prayed along with his daughter! Afterwards, Bess coordinated a meeting with her neighbors and 100+ people, adults and children alike, came to meet our team in front of her house!

We sang and danced about Jesus and then our brother Lee Radde shared a very intriguing and captivating Gospel message about God’s love and Jesus’ power to save us from sin and bring peace and strength to our hearts. Many of the people raised their hands to receive Jesus as their Savior! My team handed out some aid supplies to help the people and then we returned to Bess’ house to pray healing over her sick father. We gathered around Jose’s bed and began to claim healing over his lung cancer in Jesus’ name. Afterwards, he was so blessed and encouraged by us that he spoke loudly and cried as he shared that we were the first people to pray for him. He was so touched, and although we couldn’t check to see if he had been healed of cancer, we could see that his heart had been restored! As we left their house, some of the local children were waiting for us. One of the boys had a white dove in his hands and as we stepped into the calm afternoon air, he released the dove. It flew up in a perfect circle around Bess and Jose’s house and then soared off toward the horizon. It was a moment I will never forget. Holy Spirit was saying, “Over this house, I have established peace!“

This testimony is a picture of what God is doing all over the Philippines. He truly is near to the broken-hearted, and he binds up their wounds. During this trip I felt the most alive that I have ever felt. And I realized it was because I was doing what I was born to do… to restore people to a relationship with their Heavenly Father! I had this profound realization: to be truly alive, living in the moment, is to seek the good of others and not my own. This trip was a success, not only because we saw the Holy Spirit manifest His powerful presence on believers, or because we saw so many salvations, or because we were able to empower the bless a country in need. No, this trip was a success because we were obedient to God, our team put others first, and we saw Kingdom relationships grow for the glory of His name. Thank you and God bless you!

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