Blessing for Bicol
by Timothy Cañete (Field Support, Albay)
The situation brought about by the pandemic was already a great burden to bear. Then one after another, storms (Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses) pushed us down without giving us enough time to get back up on our feet.
We stepped a few feet from our house. Many were wet as the hard rain entered their homes while a few of our neighbors had lost their shelters. We walked a few kilometers from our neighborhood. Some areas were inaccessible because of flooding and lahar flow. We drove several municipalities away. The places and people we passed by were devastated – some were just gazing on the homes they used to dwell in. Some mourned for the loved ones they lost.
The coastal areas were hit hard. The seas reached the land bringing with it sand from the shore and taking with it whatever its waves could draw in. Many people were left with nothing but the soaked clothes on their backs. But why would that matter to us? We’re fine, right?
We are told that the grace of God exemplified through His forgiveness stretches as far as east is from west. We are told that His grace is abundant over and over again. But oftentimes our lives reflect that grace only reaches head to toe—that grace is enough, but only for me. We hear about God’s grace in the songs we sing in church and the preaching we listen to, and we even greet others with the phrase and probably the repetition of this truth causes us to treat it in such a glib manner. Grace is abundant and free but it is not cheap or poorly given. If grace were cheap, we didn’t have to do this. If grace were cheap, there is little need to be thankful. If grace were cheap then Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross. But He did die, and we are living our lives in gratitude, and we will share God’s grace to others because God’s grace is too abundant for us to keep to ourselves.
GraceDrive began surveying the situation since the start of November with the help of Pastor Fred Daruca and teammates, and Pastor Ulysses Fundano. Three coastal areas in Bicol (Tiwi, Malinao and Bacacay) were identified as the areas we had to help. We wanted to act immediately but having no resources, we had to wait. We prayed for God’s guidance on how we would do the ministry. We prayed for finances to come in and God gave more than the target budget, which led GraceDrive to also help Cagayan Valley in the next operation. We prayed for the 450 families (150 for each area) that we gave care packs to. And God answered those prayers with a resounding YES. He gave though we do not deserve.
The plan was simple: share the Gospel of God and share the blessing He has given through relief goods. Alone, we could not do it. But God had brought different churches around the province to help one another in this ministry. As soon as the GraceDrive team from Manila came to Bicol on the 23rd of November, we immediately finished repacking the relief goods and headed to our first destination – Tiwi. Local volunteers from different places had the opportunity to share the Gospel to 150 families which was immediately followed with the relief distributions. On the afternoon we headed to Malinao and then to Bacacay on the morning of the 24th. By God’s grace, the plan went smoothly.
Our lives were blessed to see the smiles of the families we were able to reach not solely when they received the goods, but more so when they received the message from God’s Word. We were also able to reach children around the area giving them a few toys and candies after sharing to them.
We know that the relief distributions aren’t sustainable. In less than a week, the food we gave would probably be exhausted already. So we share them something that is sustainable—something that lasts for eternity: God’s grace. We pray that the Holy Spirit turn their eyes from the hands that gave a bag of goods to the hands that were nailed for our sins.