TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (BP) — They chose to return. IMB representatives Carl and Suzie Miller were in another Filipino city when they heard the news that their home in Tacloban City on the island of Leyte was in the path of Typhoon Haiyan.
Sustained winds of 195 miles an hour and gusts reaching 235 miles per hour made Haiyan the strongest recorded storm in the world, according to news reports. Called Yolanda in the Philippines, it registered as a Category 5 typhoon, with 25 million people in its trajectory.
The typhoon swept through the central Philippines, hitting the Millers’ island of Leyte around 5 a.m. local time on Friday, Nov. 8.
Stan and Dottie Smith, who live on the island of Cebu, supervise the Millers’ work. The Smiths asked the Millers about delaying their return since their area would be the hardest hit.
The Millers, however, said they felt they needed to be with the people they serve during the disaster — and be there for them in the aftermath.
Stan Smith said he appreciates “the attitude of being with the people during this bad time.” Smith said the Millers, in being agents of God’s truth, are seeking guidance from the Lord about how He wants to reach the people in the days ahead.
All International Mission Board personnel, including the Millers, have been accounted for as well as IMB national partners.
The BBC reported that people in 20 provinces are in need of shelter.
Smith said he spoke with several national believers who said large trees were leaning in the direction of their homes, but fell the opposite direction during the storm. “We were laughing, ‘The angels must really be tired from holding up trees,’” Smith said. “We thank God for their safety and well-being.”
Dottie Smith looked out their back window around 12:55 p.m. and saw that a tree had fallen in their yard and their neighbors may have lost their roof. The typhoon passed through their island around noon on Friday.
Electricity is out and cell phone towers are down in many areas.
The Philippines are no stranger to typhoons. Typhoons batter the Philippines every year, and Typhoon Haiyan is the 24th storm there this year.
On Oct. 15, an earthquake rocked the islands of Cebu and Bohol. Especially on Bohol, many people are still living in temporary housing while the island is still picking up the pieces from the 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
Mark Moses, also an IMB representative, reported at 2:56 p.m. that the worst of the storm had hit his city in Panay Island.
“Winds were very strong, but fortunately the storm was fast-moving, so no prolonged rains that could have caused massive flooding,” Moses reported. “Still, local flooding in low areas is likely.”
Moses and Smith said they are waiting until the storm has completely cleared to begin assessing the damage.
The IMB workers asked for prayer for people living along the coastlines who have faced the threat of storm surges and for prayer for opportunities to share about God’s purposes.
“[Pray] that this would be an opportunity to really minister,” Smith said. “Our number one prayer request has been that God would bring good out of great bad here.”
Caroline Anderson writes for IMB from Southeast Asia. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).