The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod plans to raise and distribute $1 million worth of aid and supplies over the next three weeks in the Philippines, where Typhoon Haiyan tore through on November 8, causing wide-reaching devastation and more than 10,000 deaths.
The church planned to have members from Missouri on the ground in the island nation Wednesday to help the 23,000 baptized Filipino members and their communities after houses, churches and livelihoods were washed away in giant storm-surges.
But the church was forced to delay the trip by three days, citing safety and security concerns. Even groups like the U.N. and Doctors Without Borders have said they're prevented from reaching outlying areas because of the wreckage, the lack of food or water and the looting and stealing of people desperate for help.
"Right now, to carry anything with you, you really face a risk of being robbed or it being stolen; people are desperate," says Rev. Glenn Merritt, director of disaster response for the church, who says he's communicated via e-mail and phone with pastors in the Philippines. "Travel and communication is still a problem, but it's getting better."
The Lutheran Church in the Philippines has particularly close ties to Missouri. Missionaries from Missouri started working in the Philippines in 1946, eventually founding almost 200 churches with 300 pastors.
Merritt hasn't heard from all of the congregations, but so far, none of the church members are reported to have died in the storm. Three churches in the Tacloban area were destroyed, as well as the houses, farms and ranches of congregation members.
"Their livelihood is gone," Merritt says.
The church has already donated $200,000 to partner Filipino churches and is quickly raising another $100,000. Merritt expects to raise a $1 million over the next three weeks.
Continue reading to see where that money will go.