A Place to Hide

When I see the photo of the Philippine flag tattered but still flying, I can’t help but bite my lip and try not to succumb to weeping. Our tattered flag symbolizes a country and a people broken and battered by the continuous onslaught of evil: corruption, war in Mindanao, insurrection, floods, earthquake, and just recently, super typhoon that took lives and property, and maybe, even hope to some. With these sentiments and tears, I begin my post today.

There were news that, after Typhoon Haiyan devastated our country, a big and famous church refused to receive townsfolk seeking refuge to their sturdy building in the heart of Tacloban, Leyte, the hardest hit province, while the typhoon raged. Those people were desperate and ran to that church’s edifice, hoping that they would be received and find safety there. But they were cruelly turned away because they were not members of that church.

This is a homegrown and second largest church in the Philippines next to the Roman Catholic Church. They are called Iglesia ni Cristo (translated: Church of Christ), but most people call them by the name of the founder, Iglesia ni Manalo, which is just as well since it appears that they don’t have the right to carry the name of the Savior. Would the Lord Jesus Christ turn away anyone? They may boast of their sturdy edifices, their churches’ buildings high spires proudly reaching to the clouds, but if the Lord doesn’t dwell there, what good does it do? Absolutely nothing!

In 2006 when our family traveled to nearby provinces to attend crusades of our Church, I had observed this one thing: most, if not all, of our Church’s outreach stations’ buildings are not made of a sturdy foundation. I was barely three years old in the Lord and still had that worldly thinking in me. I was ashamed to feel dismayed seeing the unattractive and seemingly weak structures that composed the outreaches’ buildings. I was still in the worldly mode thinking that a church building should look magnificent. Our main church regularly holds worship service in a stadium which is not at all unusual for huge congregations.

But our Church’s outreach stations’ buildings symbolize the poverty and humility of Christ when He walked on earth. Not that they would rather keep it that way, but, in the provinces where life is hard, the Gospel is brought to the poor and the needy. They may be poor materially (some outreach stations have curtains for walls), but they are rich in faith. And I might have forgotten where the Lord delivered His sermons: on a hill, on the mount, on a boat, at the seaside, in someone’s house. Our outreaches’ buildings may be weak but our Church’s foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ.

News reached us that in one outreach station that was directly along the path of the super typhoon, when the outreach building was wiped out, the beloved brethren in Christ tried to flee but couldn’t stand up to the force of the howling winds and lashing rain, so they just lay flat on the ground in a vacant lot, their faces kissing the wet earth. They yielded their bodies to the mercy and protection of the Lord God Almighty.

(image source)

Where do you go when there is nowhere to hide? Where do you run to? For even the designated evacuation centers were swallowed up by the storm surge and the people who sought refuge there perished. Where do you go when there is no safe place to be? For even the mansion-like houses of Tacloban were not spared by the fierceness of wind and water.

This was what our family talked about after our nightly devotion around our table. I said, “The safest place to be is in the Lord Jesus Christ.” When buildings fail to harbor us, there is a cleft in the Rock where we are always safe. We are safe in the hand of the Savior.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

Psalm 91 was given to us so we will know who holds, covers, and protects us.

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you… (Ps. 91: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, emphasis added)

And yes, He is able to deliver from any and all harm. Even from super typhoons. Our brethren in Visayas are all safe. Hallelujah!

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Journey with Jesus,

Comments

  1. Janis Cox says:

    Oh my heart cries out for you. I am following you at Spiritual Sundays. Your picture at the beginning is beautiful and certainly reminds us of our Father who is protector of our souls and lover of His creation.
    I am so sorry that a “Christian” church turned away anyone. That is not what Jesus would do.
    May the Lord bless your faith; protect your minds and hearts through Jesus our Lord. And may you in your humbleness please Him; may He bless you for your faithfulness.
    Blessings,
    janis http://www.janiscox.com I would be honoured if you would link this post to Sunday Stillness.

    • RinaPeru says:

      Thank you for your prayers and beautiful words of encouragement, Janis. All this show of love and care from around the world overwhelms me – I thank our merciful Lord for that. Blessings to you, too.

  2. Deanne says:

    Rina my heart aches for your country!! Aches even more for the “church” that had turned away people who needed refuge……Yes, the safest place to be, is in Jesus Christ!!

  3. Aileen says:

    Very sad about that church, but it is true what they do to non-members. A month before Haiyan hit Tacloban, there was also typhoon Santi (category 3) that hit Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. It took almost a month for us to have the electricity restored because most electrical pylons and posts have fallen. There was also that church you mentioned, just right across the highway and they have a generator. Some people just needed to charge their cellphones so they could contact their relatives, but INC would not open their doors. Of course that’s probably not as bad as those people running for their lives and being turned down, as what you have said. And I have to agree, that is not a real church of God. Christianity is more than just the talking…you have to walk the faith.

    • RinaPeru says:

      I can’t remember a time that INC has opened its doors to non-members during calamities, unlike Catholic churches which usually become the evacuation centers (although I’m no longer a Catholic, but that’s what I see). A “Christian” church that is in name only is not a true church of the Lord Jesus. Thank you for your thoughts, Aileen.

  4. Barbie says:

    Oh Rina, this just breaks my heart to know that a church has turned it’s back to offer help. I am praying for your precious Philippines.

  5. You have been much on my heart and in my prayers, dear sister. May God bring healing and wholeness from the devastation in your country.

  6. Hazel Moon says:

    I am so glad your family is safe, but you are so right, that we must run to the rock for our shelter. Those who in error ran to the evacuation place they thought was safe, perished! May we have tender hearts to reach out to those in need, even if they are not members or “OUR” church. Thank you for sharing at “Tell Me a Story.”

    • RinaPeru says:

      Indeed, the love and grace of Christ don’t discriminate or a respecter of persons, but are all-encompassing to all who are in need.

  7. Your post, Rina, brought tears to my eyes and pain to my heart, that “brothers and sisters in the Lord” would turn away others in their need. And conviction. Lord, help me not to do the same and forgive me for times I have not extended myself as perhaps You wanted. May my heart, all our hearts, be like HIS, so help us God. And you are so right, the cleft of the Rock shall be our hiding place from all harm. Thank you for this beautiful post and God bless you and everyone ravaged by this storm. Blessings…

    • RinaPeru says:

      There are Christian churches that are in name only; they don’t practice genuine faith that works through love. Thank you, Sheila. Blessings.

  8. This truly makes sense. Just like many others, I’ve seen tornadoes, earthquakes, horrible storms break into our towns, states, nations Only the Lord is the One Who can break thru and protect, OR draw home to Him for eternity. We simply don’t know what the process can be forever and ever. And that instant when we leave our present-body will become an eternal body. Good sharing, good thinking. Bless you.

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