Heartbroken like never before

January 27, 2014

by Hassan Ayouba, DART member

Disaster Assistance Response team member Hassan Ayouba reflects on lessons learned while ministering to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

I’ve had a lot of experience helping Samaritan’s Purse respond to disaster situations. For example, in the Sahel region of Africa and Niger specifically—which is where I’m from—I’ve helped with flood responses, emergency food assistance, and more. But I have never had a broken heart as much as I did when I landed in Tacloban in the Philippines.

What I saw was beyond my expectations. As we were landing, all I could see were destroyed houses, plantations, and cars; in short, the tell-tale signs of a tremendous disaster.

But what surprised me was the courageous and mature spirit of the people. Normally in such a situation, one might expect people to be mourning, crying for help, and perhaps even acting out as a result of their desperation.

But here, it’s different.

I met people who welcomed me, giving me warm smiles. What’s more surprising to me is that everyone was cleaning up the town, trying to help themselves.

As I witnessed this, my heart broke and I said to God, ‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to partake in the response to this people.’

One day, God gave me the opportunity to encourage and pray with an elderly person. His children had left the town because of the risk of becoming traumatized at the horrific conditions of the streets in the aftermath of the storm. In fact, when he saw us, he said: “I see you, I see help. May God reward you.”

As we were leaving him for another place, he asked us to come back to encourage and pray with his family. From that experience I learned that no matter what condition you find yourself in, as long as you’re alive, give glory to God. Wherever God asks you to go, He can always use you for His own glory.

Working for Samaritan’s Purse gives me the opportunity to talk about my faith, and to share such words of hope with those in need.