Recently with the help of our supporters we were able to distribute Christian books and Bibles to people from various areas in Mindanao, Philippines.
Our distribution contact reports that 225 copies of the book Tortured for Christ were distributed, along with 225 copies of the book Hearts of fire and 225 Bibles.
Our contact reports that receiving the books was a great encouragement to those from Mindanao, where persecution is ongoing. In this Muslim-majority region there is a long-running conflict between Muslim groups and the government over the Muslims’ desire to form an independent Islamic state. Some areas and even entire islands in this region are extremely dangerous for non-Muslims. In Mindanao, attacks on Christians are sporadic and unpredictable, creating an environment of constant tension for Christians. When conflicts break out, government forces respond. In some areas, the government has ceded control to Islamists, and Christians have no rights.
Please thank the Lord for the successful completion of this project and continue to pray for our faith family in Mindanao.
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.
Matthew works closely with VOM to oversee projects and a Bible college in the Philippines. In this interview you’ll discover his response to persecution and just how we can support the ministry in prayer.
How did your involvement with Voice of the Martyrs start?
In 2006 I was asked to be a VOM contact. I asked, “Why me?” I didn’t have training; I didn’t have much experience. But they said to me, “You are acquainted with persecution.” Muslims had burned our house, and then they burned our church three times. Once I also had to evacuate at 1 o’clock in the morning because Muslims were coming against us. So I said, “If the Lord told you, who am I to refuse? I want to obey the Lord.”
Are you ever afraid or worried because you are an active Christian living in a restricted country?
I grew up in a Muslim community; I played with Muslims, I learned how to speak with Muslims. I learned how to live with Muslims. So I think I’m less worried about that. But then when we are hearing bombing and then shooting, it bothers me.
But we just trust the Lord about it. One time when my youngest daughter was about seven or eight years old, we heard shooting, shooting and bombing early in the morning. Sometimes it shook the roofing of our house. My small daughter said, “Papa, what’s happening, is that shooting?” I said, “Oh, yes, maybe they’re just testing their guns.” But then it continued for more than an hour, and I think maybe they’re fighting. But I don’t worry; the Lord is with us. That’s the assurance. He gives assurance and protection even when that is happening close to us.
We have experienced the protection of the Lord. My wife and daughter were in the market buying some vegetables, and right afterwards, only one or two minutes away from where they had been, a bomb exploded. If they had stayed longer, probably they were part of that. But the Lord’s protection was on us. So we acknowledge the goodness of the Lord.
How have you grown as a Christian as a result of your ministry?
I learn to live by faith. In the Bible college, we live totally by faith. We can start without any support, just live by faith. I always teach people we live by faith and we live by feet. I have experienced travelling without money and the Lord just provided the money on the way. Stepping by faith, we trust the Lord. It is good that we can be part of this, ministering to these people who are under persecution. So praise the Lord for that.
What encouragement do you give to a Christian who is being persecuted?
How I encourage them is that we focus on God. Our life is limited on this earth. What is important is that we have to be committed. Death is not the end of our hope; after death, we still have hope. We do not know how much longer our life will be on this earth. So that’s why I encourage them, if our hope in Jesus is only on this earth, we are the most miserable people, but God has something for us. So I always encourage them that persecution and hard things in this world are only temporary. The glory is ahead.
I also encourage people that they are not the only one who is suffering. We lost three of our children because they were born prematurely but we could not afford hospital care. In the Philippines, if you do not have cash, they will not admit the patient. Sometimes you do not understand at first. We prayed for their healing, but they were not healed. One of the hardest things is when God is silent. And in that situation, I just go to the verse, “All things work together for good.” God has a plan. Later on, we understood that the plan is to become a part of this kind of ministry. And when others are suffering, we know how to give some advice because we have been in that situation, and I can use verses like Joshua 1:8 and Romans 8:28 to encourage people.
How can we pray for persecuted Christians?
Pray for the protection of the Lord. We travel a lot, sometimes even at night, and we need His protection. Also for people who are suffering and are in need. When we distributed Bibles Plus packs to some of them, they did not have food for that day, then we gave them the rice and they were so encouraged. Later on, that church was filled with people coming every Sunday because of that.
We need to pray for how we can be effective in the ministry.
Another thing is to pray that the Bangsamoro law will not be passed. If it is passed, there will be a big problem, because many of the members of our churches, their property will be taken by the Muslims. Every time at harvest, they will take the crop. So pray that they’ll be protected and that they’ll be provided for. Their land is being taken by the Muslims, their crops are being taken, and they are being pressured. Almost every week there are some killings of the Christians. So those are needs that we have to pray for.
How does knowing that Christians in other countries care, support and pray for them make a difference for persecuted Christians?
There is a great impact, especially in the continuance of the Gospel through the Bible college. We are being empowered and prepared because of help from VOM. We are so thankful for the partnership. They know that someone is behind them, praying and giving. We see that it is God’s blessing and looking after us through this.
Another of the great encouragements is to have the Bibles through Bibles Plus. It shows that there is somebody who cares – the body of Christ – so that is a great encouragement.
‘Elijah’ (not his real name), a graduate student from a Bible college in the Philippines, recounts a recent time when, as a student pastor, he helped his village escape from Islamic extremists.
Elijah is about twenty years old and his work is vital for the Gospel to spread in Southern Mindanao, that is in an area that is being terrorised by Islamic radicals. As a student pastor, Elijah’s days are very different to the life of a student pastor in Australia. Elijah doesn’t have a senior minister to guide and support him as he learns about the ministry. Elijah’s church did not have a pastor at all, which is why Elijah was sent there. He was trained and sent to be a pastor in an area that had no pastors due to persecution. Pastors are threatened and killed and many have had to leave for safety. Elijah’s life is at risk every day. He is willing to die for Christ so that more people can find out about Jesus.
Thirteen Three invests in the next generation of pastors because they are needed now to spread the Gospel. It is only God’s life-changing message that can bring an end to this violence and, most importantly, save them from their own destruction.