Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva: Personal message on the tragic earthquake in Visayas
We share in the sorrow of our fellow citizens – our fellow men, women and children – who now grieve for the loss of their mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children and loved ones. We share in the horrors that the tragic earthquake has brought in its wake: children buried alive inside buildings, historic landscapes and cherished places of worship razed to the ground, homes and workplaces shattered… everywhere chaos as people run in fear and panic and deaths continue to toll with every aftershock. A trauma meant for a dozen lifetimes condensed in a few minutes of unforgettable terror.
The earthquake that hit Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor and its neighboring islands recently has hit our country hard, once again. Many local and international experts are describing the strength of the earthquake as being ‘like 32 Hiroshima atom bombs.’ As of the most recent count by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the death toll has already surpassed 150 and is still counting, with more than 3 million people in more than 1,000 villages affected by the initial tremor and its equally deadly aftershocks.
Needless to say, cost-wise, damages are in the millions. Heritage-wise, priceless. Security and relationship-wise, devastatingly irreplaceable.
Now, more than ever, is when we need God.
Today, more than ever, is when we should set our differences aside – of whatever nature they may be – and come together as a united people before His throne of grace.
This is the moment, more than ever, when our prayers should be heard, when our hands should be linked in solidarity and our hearts should be beating as one, for the sake of our suffering countrymen.
This is the time when the Body of Christ and all genuine lovers of our God and nation should labor side-by-side that our beloved country may rise again from the depths that this earthquake has dragged us.
For this is the truth of the matter: there is no specific place in this world that is truly safe. We will all be ultimately hurt. And we will all, in at least one point in our lives, hit our rock bottom in complete helplessness.
Be safe, in God’s Presence. It is only in His arms that we can find true refuge.
It is only in the arms of Him who looked at man’s sinfulness and, instead of wiping them out and creating a new race, He left His majesty, was born flesh and blood and suffered among His creation that He may die for them and save them.
It is only in the arms of Him who sees injustice where the law is blind, who sees oppression where society has grown numb and who sees worth in the lowliest castoffs of civilized man.
It is only in the arms of Him who knows us better than ourselves – our secret hurts, our most shameful thoughts and most disgraceful deeds, our little hopes, forgotten acts of kindness and fondest dreams – that we can entrust the full weight of our souls, knowing that He is both able and willing to hold us, regardless.
Of course, there is no harm in taking safety precautions; it is the smart thing to do. It is what any sane person would do. But even as we enforce precautionary measures upon precautionary measures, we must remember that they are just that – calculated actions for caution. They are never really guarantees. We can as easily get hurt by an enemy as by a friend that we trust with our lives; or devastated by an illness caused by existing vices like smoking or drinking, as by cancer that came out of nowhere despite a lifetime of healthy living; or even wounded by standing in a corner as by daring death in extreme sports.
Thus, instead of searching for what, let us search for Who. Let us search for the Loving God who is knocking at our doors as He calls out––
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Stop holding tight to the burdens that life has thrown your way, He is inviting us to come to Him and––
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
There is no one – no matter how greatly burdened – that He will turn away!
To all who come to Him in complete surrender, His loving arms are ever open, for the Lord our God declares––
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:9)
As a people, let us all work together to rise above the horrors of the past few days.
As men and women and children who yearn to run to a safe refuge, let us all run to Him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us all BE SAFE, IN HIS PRESENCE.