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PHILIPPINES: Church Elder Brutally Murdered

PHILIPPINES: Church Elder Brutally Murdered

Fifty-two-year-old Perfecto Padilla, a dedicated church elder from Sultan Kudarat, Philippines, was brutally murdered by two Muslim men on 11 September at 6pm local time.

Brother Perfecto was resting outside his house in a hammock when two Muslim men came by on motorbikes and began to fire what was believed to be a 45-caliber pistol from approximately five metres away, witnesses said. He was struck by seven bullets in his chest, thigh and other parts of his body. The assailants immediately fled the scene.

Perfecto’s 12-year-old daughter Naomi ran to the assistance of her father, crying and screaming for help. A pastor named William was nearby, visiting a church member, when he heard the screaming and immediately went to provide assistance. Seeing the seriousness of the wounds, Pastor William borrowed a tricycle and took Perfecto to the hospital, but the wounded man died on the journey.

Perfectos’ two children Naomi (12) and Joseph (10) are left with no father. Their mother went to work overseas many years ago and they have lost contact with her. They are now alone and in need of assistance.

Our local VOM contact immediately visited the family after a call from Pastor William had informed him of the situation. When he met with the children, Naomi exclaimed, weeping bitterly, “Our father is a good father. He never did anything wrong. Why has this happened to him?”

“This district was once a peaceful village,” our VOM contact reported. “We always visited the church in the past and there were no close Muslim neighbours, but now Muslims have built a mosque very close to their church. They have been trying to force them to sell the property. There have been evacuations of Christians from this area because of the attacks on neighbouring Christian villages. This constant pressure by the Muslims appears to be part of a plan for them to try to claim more of the land for themselves. Perhaps the murder of this church elder has been part of the strategy and pressure put upon this small Christian community by those who are wanting the land.”

Please pray for Naomi and her brother Joseph as they deeply grieve for the sad loss of their loving father, and pray especially for their future. Their father had offered his small house for their pastor to stay in while Perfecto had planned to build a temporary church building beside the house, such was his dedication to the church and his desire to see more people come to know Christ.

Perfecto leaves a legacy for his children of his faithful commitment to God.
VOM will provide financial assistance for this young family to rebuild their lives and future.

This attack comes close on the heels of a bomb attack at a night market in the southern Filipino city of Davao on 2 September, which is reported to have killed 14 people and left another 67 injured. Among the casualties were a pastor’s 42-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old son, who both died in the bombing.

Source: VOM Australia

 

15 Years Since Burnham Kidnapping

15 Years Since Burnham Kidnapping

This May marked 15 years since Martin and Gracia Burnham were kidnapped in the Philippines. The missionary couple was on a getaway to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary when they were kidnapped by radical Muslim Abu Sayyaf fighters. For more than a year, and under the total control of their captors, they were constantly on the move, living in primitive conditions in the jungle, evading capture from the Philippine military, enduring gun battles and witnessing unspeakable atrocities committed by the men of Abu Sayyaf Group.

On the afternoon of 7 June 2002, over a year since their abduction, the Philippine military attempted a rescue. Tragically, Martin was killed during the gunfight. Wounded, but alive, Gracia was rescued and returned home under a national spotlight.

Last week the Burnham’s hometown paper, The Wichita Eagle, did an in-depth story about the family now, and especially how Martin and Gracia’s three children have been affected by their parents’ kidnapping and their dad’s death. Zach, who was 10 when his parents were kidnapped, described his response:

“I shut off,” he said. “I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I might not see them again.”

His grandparents had told him how important it was to talk to the media, so the world would want to save his parents. But it felt like a chore, and he responded listlessly, barely looking up from a rocket ship drawing in one interview.

Mindy knew talking to reporters was about the only thing she could do to help her parents, she said, and yet she remembers refusing to cry for a Christmas news special and rolling her eyes during a photo shoot on a Friday when she wanted to be at a school dance.

When the kids finally heard from their mother after more than a year apart, Jeff, the oldest, bragged to his mother that he had called the police on a TV crew that had set up on the lawn of their house.

Jeff said he hated how some reporters would try to manipulate their emotions, and to this day, his siblings say, Jeff will not talk to the media.

Television reporters wanted to film Zach’s 11th birthday party.

“It was my birthday. I didn’t want to think about my parents’ hostage situation,” he said.

“That one, that was the worst for me. I was just bitter the whole day.”

The story also included a video interview. Gracia also talked about God’s faithfulness to her children in an interview with The Voice of the Martyrs Radio.

We encourage you today to thank the Lord for the Godly legacy of Martin Burnham, and to pray for Gracia and her family as they continue to be a family that God can use.

DR CONGO:  Thousands Flee Militant Islamist Violence

DR CONGO: Thousands Flee Militant Islamist Violence

Islamist militants are suspected to have killed between 20 and 40 villagers in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Late in the evening on 3 May, attackers carried machetes and axes into a village located within the North Kivu province. “Between 8pm and 10pm, the enemy managed to get past army positions and kill peaceful residents in their homes,” reported local administrator Bernard Amisi Kalonda.

A Christian missionary added that thousands of people have already fled the area since the militants’ unexpected attack. “It was eerie; hundreds of houses abandoned and thousands of people displaced,” the missionary said of the mass exodus. “I saw four coffins and a funeral or two on the road. I saw people carrying their mattresses and things in cars, on motorcycles, on foot. Where there was a thriving community, there is now a ghost town.”

The local population in the related area is overwhelmingly Christian (95.8%), and the resulting impact on them has been immense. Referencing the attack, a pastor of a church in the community reported that the people are terrified. While some contemplated fleeing again, others have opted to stay in hopes that things will normalise soon.

Source: World Watch Monitor

 Prayer Points

  • Commit to the Lord those who are grieving; pray they will be comforted by the knowledge the Lord walks with them during this difficult time. Pray for His protection.
  • Uphold those in need of healing from physical injury or emotional trauma due to the attack.
  • Pray for the perpetrators responsible for this horrific attack. May they come to know the God of those they persecute and, as a result, be able to proclaim Him as their own Saviour and Lord.