Pastor: Philippines Quake a 'Wake-Up Call'

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PHILIPPINES -- This month a 6.9 earthquake struck the central Philippines. But even worse than the quake, were the landslides that followed.

About 50 people died in the catastrophe and dozens remain missing.

Many survivors are struggling to find shelter and food.  But relief workers with The Christian Broadcasting Network are helping them through the hard times.

Remembering the Horror

Earthquake survivor Arnolita Ramas still felt the horror as she vividly shared how she and her family narrowly escaped a landslide triggered by the earthquake.     

"The tremors were so strong. My husband carrying our son pulled my hand and we ran away from our house as fast as we can," she recalled.

"When I looked back, I saw how this huge amount of earth covered our house. In a wink of an eye, we lost everything, including my father-in-law who was trapped inside our house," she said. 

Ramas is 7 months pregnant. She says it's a miracle that she, her husband and their 5-year-old son survived.   

"I fell flat on my stomach twice and two banana trees fell on my back, but I did not feel any pain," Ramas told CBN News.

"While the ground was shaking really hard, my husband and I raised our hands and shouted, 'Lord, if this is our time to die then take us. We are ready. But if this is not yet our time, please stop the earthquake,'" she recalled.
            
Ramas' father-in-law is among the more than 100 people still missing after the 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Negros province.    
        
She and her family now live in a former goat den. Their house and small vegetable plantation were swallowed in the landslide. She and her husband now rely on relief to feed their seven children.

But help does not come very often because their village is in the mountains and the roads are susceptible to landslides. 

Survivors Get Food, Counseling

That's why Ramas and 300 families are so relieved that the CBN workers came to help.               

Negros is one of the communities badly hit by the earthquake. It is very difficult to reach because of rough roads and it's quite far from the city.

There, CBN gave away food and mats.  Church volunteers are also conducting trauma counseling for the children.   
 
More than 37,000 families have been affected by the quake. Many houses are either completely destroyed or unlivable due to extensive damage. 

The homeless now live in tents, but even those who still have houses camp outside in fear of the frequent strong aftershocks.    

Wake-Up Call

Rock Candido has been pastoring in the area for some time. His house was badly damaged in the quake, but he says the catastrophe has fueled him to draw more people to God.   

"The people here do not go to church anymore," Candido told CBN News. "There is a lot of gambling going on and running after material things in life."

"This is a wake-up call to all of us, even the churches. We are running out of time," he warned. "We should be more aggressive in sharing the gospel."

"This has caused the people to go back to God because He is the one who is in control of everything," he said. "I like what CBN is doing because they not only cater to the physical needs of the people but to the spiritual needs as well."   

It was through Candido's outreach in the mountains that Ramas came to know Christ. She acknowledges that it was her faith that saved her family.   

"I really believe that when we have God in our lives, He will always keep us safe," she said.   
 
Ramas and her children had to walk 4 kilometers for the relief goods, but she is happy they have food to sustain them for the coming days.   

"Thank you very much CBN," she said. "This is really a big help to us. We don't know where to get our food because we also lost our farm, and we don't have the means to buy food. I hope this will not be the last. Thank you and God bless."  

CBN will regularly supply food to these far flung villages and other badly affected areas. The organization is also preparing livelihood projects for the victims of the earthquake to help them recover from this calamity.

--Originally aired on February 17, 2012.  

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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