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Religious writers weigh-in on Typhoon Haiyan

Published: Friday, Nov. 15 2013 1:45 p.m. MST

Typhoon Haiyan survivors walk along a road in the destroyed port in the town of Guiuan, Philippines on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard Nov. 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction.

David Guttenfelder, Associated Press

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Religious writers across the Internet are offering their outlook on Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines a week ago, and how religious believers and organizations are responding to the natural disaster.

Christianity Today looks at five different ways churches can help the relief efforts without causing any more damage.

“Churches can be more effective in offering aid to communities in the Philippines affected by the recent disaster,” reads the Christianity today article. “The church is called to help in times of need. But sometimes our good intentions can cause unintentional harm."

Writer Jamie Aten writes churches should keep their focus on the survivors’ needs, understand the motivation behind helping, volunteer with a plan and join forces with local support and other organizations.

“Before you help, make sure you understand your own motivation for why you want to help. Some people want to help to be 'in the action' and want to see what is going on,” Aten wrote.

Writer Omid Safi at Religion News Service questioned God’s role in the typhoon and how believers are reacting to the disaster.

“In times like this, the world’s attention turns for a few days to the tragedy, before moving on to the next crisis, the next distraction, the next Miley Cyrus antics,” Safi wrote.

Safi said even if there is analysis and discussions about the disaster, people also need to remember those who are actually suffering.

“Sometimes that type of analysis is helpful. At other times it can actually be an excuse to avoid sitting with the overwhelming, heart-shattering suffering of human beings,” Safi wrote.

And Safi wrote people shouldn’t seek out even more disastrous material to help cope with the human suffering going on with the typhoon. He also said people should take direct action to help the Philippines.

Christianity Today published another article about one woman’s journey after Typhoon Haiyan, walking through the rubble to find help.

According to the article, Christian relief organizations have aided the country immensely, including the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which has already pleged more than $100,000. The article also points out facts released by the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches on the worst-damaged areas, and offers a personal response from Paul Varberg, a missionary in the Philippines.

“Please pray for us that we will adjust to life without electricity, limited water and almost no communication,” said the missionary.

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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