Just over a year ago we had no idea that Superstorm Sandy would pack the wallop it did. Similarly, last weekend we had no idea that Typhoon Haiyan would wreak the devastation, death, and havoc left in its wake. At first 100 people were feared dead, then it was 1,000, now the latest estimates have no fewer than 10,000 who have perished. Of course, many hundreds of thousands have been displaced, left homeless, foraging for water and food.
Our own United Church of Christ has issued an appeal for $250,000 in response to Typhoon Haiyan which left a dark trail of death and destruction in the Philippines last Friday. Early reports indicate that the weakened storm has caused much less damage in China and Vietnam, but UCC disaster response officials continue to monitor the situations there.
One great thing about giving our relief aid through the church is already having church personnel and mission partners on the ground in affected countries. We don’t play catch up after the fact to get a foothold there, with the clumsy waste that involves. The ecumenical United Church of Christ in the Philippines has 1,500,000 members and 1,593 pastors in 2,564 congregations (as of 2008). The Congregational church has been there since 1902.
I say this because some, often beyond the church, rationalize not giving anything by saying, “What is the use? It will never arrive in the needy hands anyway.” Not true of church aid!
Already our One Great Hour of Sharing funds (the offerings you provided last Lent) are flowing to partners in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the ACT Alliance. Our own experience tells us that recovery will take a long time and a lot of resources. In the UCC, we offer support as we can for those who respond early and we stay for the long haul.
One thing I love about First Congregational, Darien is that if I didn’t invite your generous offerings this Sunday to make what difference we can amid this ruin, you’d be up in arms. Yes, and rightfully so. So offering envelopes will be provided. And we will route our gifts through the Connecticut Conference with all of the other 264 churches of our conference.
Please pray for the people and communities impacted by catastrophic weather and all those who serve as first responder emergency personnel. Make your gift payable to the First Congregational Church, Darien, and write Typhoon Haiyan in the memo. Thank you, for your prayers and efforts on behalf of our suffering sisters and brothers across the world.