IN BRIEF — Southern Baptist missionaries and local Baptists are helping relief workers feed, clothe and comfort survivors of the July 10 collapse of the massive Lupang Pangako (“Promised Land”) trash dump on the edge of Manila, the Philippines. More than 200 people died and 475 families were left homeless when typhoon rains and wind toppled part of the 50-foot-high, 25-acre-wide garbage mound.
QUEZON CITY, Philippines (BP)–Their “promised land” was a fetid dump, but thousands of Filipinos lost even that when the huge mountain of trash came crashing down.
Southern Baptist missionaries and local Baptists are helping relief workers feed, clothe and comfort survivors of the July 10 collapse of the massive Lupang Pangako (“Promised Land”) trash dump on the edge of Manila, the Philippines.
Typhoon rains and wind toppled part of the 50-foot-high, 25-acre-wide mound, which buried several hundred shanties in an avalanche of garbage. By July 18 more than 200 bodies had been recovered, with more still missing. Many of the victims were children. Up to 80,000 people make a living scavenging through the garbage for scraps to sell. Residents there continued searching for items to sell even as workers and bulldozers unearthed corpses.
A missionary team drove two vans loaded with food and relief supplies to Payatas-Hope Baptist Church near the dump site July 18. There they joined church members to pack 300 relief bags for shantytown families being housed at an evacuation center set up in a local school. The supplies included rice, canned food, soap, clothing — and 300 copies of the Gospel of John.
They delivered the supplies to the evacuation center and met with community workers and government officials coordinating relief efforts.
“There are 475 homeless families — 2,000-plus people — living in the 12-room elementary school within sight of the mountain of trash [that] collapsed on their houses and families,” reported missionary Mark Harvey, who coordinates ministry to Manila’s urban poor. “The only word that came to mind was ‘overwhelming:’ overwhelming tragedy, overwhelming need, overwhelming opportunity to make a difference for the glory of God.”
Despite the massive needs, Harvey was impressed by the cooperation of government and private agencies to provide medicine and supplies at the school and three other evacuation centers.
“There was plenty of fresh water and rice, and an excellent, well-organized supply room where our bags will be added to the community’s response,” Harvey said. “We were greeted by the victims with friendly Filipino smiles and high-fives.”
Southern Baptist disaster relief funds helped pay for the supplies delivered by the missionaries, along with contributions from Philippine Baptists, Briarlake Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., and First Baptist Church, Oveido, Fla.
The missionaries plan to continue relief efforts at the center for about a month until the families have been resettled in government housing. After the move, they hope to start an evangelistic Bible study among the families that could lead to a new church.
“Please pray for these individuals who God loves so much,” Harvey appealed. “Pray that out of this disaster and loss of life they will each find Jesus: the way, the truth and the life.”