Kingdom Women: Dr. Gloria Fabrigas-Relief in Philippines—with Joan Acosta
Throughout the next year I will post an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor. We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus.
Today our Kingdom Woman is serving the people of the Philippines with her medical skills.
WHY AM I DOING WHAT I'M DOING by Dr. Gloria Fabrigas
Let me share about God’s goodness during my Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) experience.
On November 6, 2013, I started to go on night duty to help man the Operation Center together with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. The next day the City Mayor declared forced evacuation of families living in coastal areas--a half day's work to secure families.
Since I was staying near the city hall in a 20-year-old apartment, I told my 14-year-old son, Hesedel, that I needed to go back to the Operation Center and stay there until the typhoon made landfall to look into the needs of the families in the 29 evacuation centers. I was the only physician on duty up to 48 hours post-Yolanda.
At 5 a.m. of November 8, the winds and the rain were becoming strong. Reported cases came in of fallen electric posts and big trees, with still a lot of people to be evacuated, until finally, all means of communication were cut off.I received a last message from my son: ‘Mom, it’s getting scary, our roof beginning to rip off.' I told him, 'Son, stay on the stairs and if someone asks you to go out of the house, don’t follow. Wait until Mom arrives.'
As I looked back at my Typhoon Haiyan experience, I was reminded of God’s word: ‘All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began (Psalm 139: 16).' I was born when a big typhoon hit our place in Manila and the doctor needed to do an emergency C-section on my mom even when she was not yet due because her blood pressure shot up.
I grew up getting used to typhoons, earthquakes and other disasters. As a physician I responded to many disasters in Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka and our beloved disaster-prone country. I know exactly what it means to lose someone you love when disaster strikes. My husband had a dissecting aortic aneurysm the day when I was about to leave for Sri Lanka. It was a secondary disaster for me and was so devastating. I never stopped crying while on the plane. As I saw his lifeless body in the hospital, all I uttered that time was “Lord, I don’t understand what is happening, but I choose to trust You." My son was only 6 years old that time and both of us went to Sri Lanka for closure.
Back to Haiyan experience: Horrifying winds and rains continued, shouting of children in the nearby school, roofs disintegrating...an hour after the third storm surge, injured persons, traumatized and crying people and dead bodies started to be brought to my attention. I asked God for strength, wisdom and supernatural grace to respond.
At the same time, I was still wondering about the situation of my son. It was already 4 pm when I had the opportunity to check on him. As I walked to our apartment, my knees were shaking because of all the devastation I saw. Unimaginable! The apartment was so muddy from 5-foot flood water which soaked all the equipment, household appliances and other stuff. After securing my son's safety, I needed to go back to the Operation Center where the city was totally dark.
And the rest is history: Over 3,000 deaths in Tacloban City alone, with 700 missing and 3,000 injured, and with massive looting. I held on to the truth that God is still in control.
Why am I doing what I am doing? I am not a doctor who happens to be a Christian, but I am a Christian who happens to be a doctor. The practice of my profession is not separate from the fulfillment of God’s kingdom here in Tacloban. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to be part of rebuilding Tacloban again. I will be part not only of system reforms but real transformation.
Our efforts are part of God's confirmation through His word in Isaiah 61:1-2, when I said yes to the Lord to work with the City Government of Tacloban last 2008. At present, as health cluster lead, I am in charge of social welfare department, with a mandate of ensuring that the needs of the poor, children, youth, families and elderly are being addressed.
Also, in my 26 years as an associate staff of Philippines Campus Crusade for Christ, the Lord enabled me and our team to help build movements everywhere through our ministries here in Eastern Visayas. Glory to God for 12 campus movements, Life at the Crossroads ministry, community development through Global Aid Network Post Yolanda, medical ministry, and soon family life ministry.
Isn’t God great? Through Psalm 138:8, the Lord assured me that when I say 'Lord I will follow you,' He will perfect His purpose for me.
Gloria Fabrigas has been with Philippines CCC as an associate staff since 1989 through the Agape Rural Health Program. Currently she is the Regional Team Leader for Eastern Visayas CCC. She is a doctor of medicine based in Tacloban City, Leyte, and is a Public Health Specialist. Her active involvement in the local affairs of the city government has led to her being assigned as OIC of City Social Welfare Development Office, and head of Special Projects for Health. She has a son, Hesedel.
Joan Acosta is a full-time missionary of PCCC since 2000. She is currently assigned under the Office of Fund Development, serving alongside her husband, Reuben. They are expecting their first child this December.