February 2020: TYPHOON
The word typhoon does not strike fear in most Americans because we cannot identify with what this truly means. However, in the Philippine Islands everyone knows exactly what the word typhoon means. In South Sudan we often get visitors, both believers and non-believers, who come to the base just to see the work of the ministry. I always ask them about their work and where they are going. Often, they will say that they are just passing through on their way to Juba, by road. I then ask them if they have an escort, and most often they say “No.” Almost always they
proceed to say, “Will we be ok?” Even after I explain how many people have been killed and how dangerous it is, most just shrug it off and say that they will be all right. Christians are especially naive. It is at this point that I call Michael, my senior chaplain, and say, “Get me two vehicles, with about 20 men. Tell them to put on their armor—bullet proof vests and helmets, grab their weapons and send them as an escort to take these civilians up to the capital.” These people are unaware that we are saving their lives and are unaware of the great danger they were putting themselves in because they do “ not have first-hand experience of the devastation that war brings. It is often a great inconvenience and cost to our ministry. Even though they do not appreciate the escort, I know that we must do what is right.
Now in the Philippine Islands, if you tell someone that a category four typhoon is coming, the reality of this brings immediate fear. There have only been 143 typhoons that have attained this status since 1851, which have had sustained winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour. The recent typhoon that struck the Philippines in December 2019 earned the name Phanfone because of its strength and ferocity. It made landfall on Christmas day, making it the 21st typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2019. So far, 36 have been killed and more than 14 people are missing and are presumed dead. To the people of the Philippines the word typhoon brings fear. In this area devastated by Typhoon Phanfone, is one of the many works we are supporting under Ghost Operations. It is in partnership with U-Turn for Christ, Philippines. We have many pastors also operating in this area. On the 26th of December, I was contacted by Pastor Gerry Brown from U-Turn for Christ. He asked for prayer for safety. Rebels ambushed a police patrol, while on the way to a Christmas party. As they were traveling, they were attacked by rebel forces, who set off an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that hit the police vehicles. It also hit two other vehicles loaded with innocent civilians who were traveling home for Christmas—killing three on the spot. A woman and child died later. When the explosion hit, one of our pastors’ cousin, who is a police officer, was struck by some nails from the device and lost an eye. He also took shrapnel in the foot and leg, as well as being thrown. The local pastors have been conducting Bible studies with the police force for the last 20 years with much fruit, but the terror attacks are getting worse and worse.
We were asked by Pastor Gerry Brown to help support the pastors in this area. We have taken on the support of many of these men. As I have said in the past that I can tell you almost nothing about these pastors, this is because we are operating under extreme secrecy. If we say too much, we are putting their lives in danger. Gerry sent an urgent request; I will write it as he said: “Merry Christmas, Wes. We need some help. Two of our churches and our Bible school were hit hard by the typhoon—roofs destroyed, and windows blown out. Praise God nobody was hurt and most of the structures are intact. Could you please put out a plea for help? The ministry has gone through a lot of tough years and we do not have the funds to rebuild. We estimate that we will need $20,000 (USD) for repairs to reopen. Also, one of our pastors was just shot. He will survive, but we are in great need.” While our ministries are different, both operate in areas of extreme danger. With this urgent plea, we have made the decision to come alongside Pastor Gerry and the ministries of U-turn for Christ to support the body of Christ in the Philippines. We are asking people to give generously to rebuild both churches and the Bible school. Gerry and I are close personal friends, and I consider him to be a warrior for God’s Kingdom. Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) has been supporting his ministry for more than seven years and I know Gerry to be a true brother. While these works are not directly under FRM, we are all on the same team building God’s Kingdom and not our own ministries.
Far Reaching Ministries