The winds of Typhoon Haiyan were on a direct course to the Philippine island of Baliguian in November 2013. This tiny island, with a land mass of only 20 acres, took a direct hit from one of the strongest tropical storms ever recorded.
Haiyan was the deadliest Philippine typhoon ever recorded with over 6,300 people killed. Yet, there was no loss of life on Baliguian. Many homes and buildings were destroyed and only two boats of their fishing fleet were left.
Through the work of Bob and Celia Munson, VBMB Ambassadors in the Philippines, the Baliguian people have a new boat to help them fish and feed their families. They also have a new faith and hope that feeds their souls.
The Munsons serve in Baguio City, Philippines. In response to two typhoons in 2009, they founded Bukal Life Care, a pastoral care and counseling center. Virginia Baptist Disaster Response helped by providing training for the Munsons and their partners.
In the wake of Haiyan, the Munsons and Bukal Life Care provided crisis counseling training for a team of seminary students from Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. The team would work on the island of Leyte, one of the other islands devastated by the typhoon.
Among those students was Lea, a young woman who shared her worries about her family on the tiny Baliguian Island. The Munsons committed to assist in sending a disaster response team there.
After the training was completed, the team went to Kalibo, Aklan, and then on to Baliguian Island. The story related to the team by the island’s residents was quite inspirational. They recounted experiencing a terrible wave that was going to cover the island.
Praying together with water at their waists, the residents saw a bright light and then huge wave that thankfully crumbled at the shore. They viewed the event as a miracle from God. While on the island, the visiting team supplied emergency goods and crisis debriefing.
Since that time, Bukal Life Care and partners have taken numerous trips to the devastated areas in the region. However, the longest term work has been on Baliguian with much of the support coming from Virginia Baptists. The work being done there has inspired others to help.
Lea is now serving a one-year term as a missionary to the residents on Baliguian. Ben, a young missionary from New Zealand, is also partnering with the Munsons on the island. Through their work, dozens have been involved in Bible studies with many baptized.
In the most recent trip to Baliguian Island, Celia Munson was able to see how things are progressing and distribute funding from Virginia Baptists to initiate community development projects. The team was also able to visit and work on Malangabang Island. Malangabang,, 45 minutes away by boat, is the nearest land to Baliguian Island.
Eyewitnesses there also saw the bright light in the distance that Baliguian residents reported seeing as they also climbed the hillside to safety.
The Malangabang islanders have been so interested in the good things going on in Baliguian Island that they welcomed the team to come and share their message and ministry with them. Ministry work is now occurring on both islands.
The bright, life-saving light during the typhoon that quelled the waves was a miracle for the islanders. The Christ light from Virginia Baptists through the ministry of Bob and Celia Munson has also been miraculous in its effect on the islands residents.
How fitting that the islanders have named the fishing boat that Virginia Baptists purchased as “Munsons Family; VBMB Miracle Island.”
Thank you to Virginia Baptists for their great help to people in need on the other side of the world.