Pedaling for the Church

How one Filipino pastor used bicycle cabs to transform lives in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan

From Message magazine issue "Missions on the Frontline"

“God, please do not forget us. I know you are trying to speak to us through the typhoon.”

After Typhoon Haiyan decimated Joel Marmita’s hometown in the Philippines in 2013, Joel had difficulty finding work and struggled to provide for his wife and children. He hadn’t been to church for a long time, but his hopelessness brought him to his knees and he found himself praying.

Joel returned to New Life Baptist Church of Palo, an ABWE church plant established by a team of Filipino church planters led by missionaries Jim and Allene Latzko and Pastor Gling Aliposa. It was there that Joel quickly discovered God had not forgotten him.

God provided money, through a group of Filipino believers in the US, and Joel’s pastor used the funds to purchase bicycle taxicabs, which are commonly used throughout the Philippines for short-distance transportation. Pastor Aliposa chose pedicabs because they only cost $325 and require little maintenance, but could provide a steady income for typhoon victims.

Joel received one of the program’s first 10 bikes, which were distributed to applicants on a rent-to-own basis. Recipients pay about a dollar a day for a year, and then they become full owners. Both church members and non-church members were able to apply, but part of the agreement stated that they must attend church at least once a week. As a result, many drivers, including Joel, began bringing their entire families, and the church has grown.

“When we visited the Palo church, we were excited to find that it had almost doubled in size after the typhoon, partially due to the relationships built through the pedicab program,” said Jim Latzko. “We decided to help expand this successful program into nine other churches whose communities were also damaged by Typhoon Haiyan.”

Thanks to generous supporters, 36 more pedicabs have been distributed to typhoon victims, and the Latzkos are eager to see how the Lord will continue to use these bikes to transform lives.