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Vietnam and the Philippines are focal points of intense compassion and prayer within the worldwide TWR family as the two Southeast Asian nations face the deadly effects of Typhoon Haiyan.

As the typhoon, believed to be among the strongest on record, left the Philippines reeling and slammed into Vietnam early Monday (local time), authorities were estimating that the death toll already may have reached more than 10,000 people. (Update 1: Officials are now re-evaluating this number.) Haiyan’s strength was greatly diminished but still highly destructive as it invaded Vietnam.

TWR is engaged in gospel outreach in both countries and maintains a busy office in Baguio City, north of the Philippine capital of Manila. Staff members were reported safe in Baguio City, roughly 1,000 kilometers, or 620 miles, from the worst-hit areas of Leyte, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Cebu and Western Samar.  

“It is very heartbreaking what is happening to my country caused by this super typhoon,” reported Leonardo Perez, a TWR Philippines staff member. “In Tacloban City [on Leyte], according to the news, almost all households are victims. I am very concerned especially about the situation of children.  In the news, they are wet and chilled.”

Via the TWR Asia administrative office in Singapore, TWR Philippines reported that many in the ravaged islands have lost their belongings, homes and loved ones. Many are still missing, their families not knowing whether they are alive. People are sleeping on the streets, and food and medicine is needed. Hospitals are able to treat only minor injuries and illnesses.

Schools, hotels and public buildings have been destroyed, according to the report. Looting has occurred in cities, and if help does not arrive quickly, violence could break out. Some people in damaged rural areas are moving to nearby towns.

Widespread power outages mean that broadcasting, including TWR’s, is disrupted. Much of the affected population can’t get updates on government relief efforts. TWR is seeking other outlets for reaching the Philippine people with God’s messages of hope.

Perez and his co-workers sought continuing prayer from TWR staff and supporters worldwide as the people of this region cope with the devastation.

Update 2: According to the administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Leyte, 33,000 sacks of rice were stolen from the main warehouse of the NFA. Several hundred people ransacked the said warehouse. The policemen and soldiers were not able to control the people. Please pray for stability as aid is distributed.

The people of Vietnam were able to breathe somewhat easier as the weakened remnants of Haiyan passed over the country and into China. The strength of the storm had dropped to Category 1 status as it made landfall on the coast of Vietnam, and although damage and deaths were reported, the destruction was relatively limited.

Prayer Points (Update 3)

  • Roads in the Philippines need to be rehabilitated soon. Supplies are not coming in as quickly as expected because of very poor road conditions.
  • Electricity and communication lines must be restored. Coordination of aid and supply delivery (especially from Manila to the affected areas) are affected by fragmented communication.
  • Pray for electricity to be restored immediately so that we can continue to air our programs and reach the people with good news.
  • Pray for listeners who are victims.
  • Pray that aid and relief will be able to reach the victims.
  • Pray for TWR Philippines staff members’ relatives living in the affected areas.
  • Give wisdom to our team leader and other Christian leaders as they strive to minister in the affected areas.
  • Ask the Lord to protect people across Vietnam as they clean up after the storm.
  • Another typhoon is developing and heading toward the Philippines. Pray that God will steer this typhoon away.

Photo above: The brother of a pastor who cooperates with TWR Philippines ministry teams surveys the ruins of the pastor’s house, struck as Typhoon Haiyan swept through the islands.