Last year, Voice of the Martyrs Australia was able to help support a group of orphans from the Caraga region in the Philippines who are now in the care of a local pastor and his wife.
Over the last few years, an insurgent communist group ‘New People’s Army’ have been prominent and violent within the area. This has left many children orphaned as their parents have been killed or left in abject poverty.
There are now 10 children in the care of Pastor Jacob* and his wife and they are now receiving an education as well as Christian teaching and practising daily devotions.
VOM provided funds to assist with food, shelter and education for the children in care who are currently staying within a safe house.
Pastor Jacob and his wife are looking to welcome more children to support in the next year.
*names have been changed
If you would like to financially support our Front Line Ministry fund please go to vom.com.au/donate.
The mission of a Bible college in Mindanao is to train and equip committed men and women from different areas of the Philippines in the Gospel, and send them around the country to minister.
The discipleship training program is open to anyone committed to furthering the Gospel in the area. Many students from the program have travelled far and wide to do so.
As part of their training, students go house to house, to hospitals and to prisons to witness, while also visiting churches on the weekend.
Voice of the Martyrs Australia was able to support the discipleship program financially last year which has seen many students trained and equipped for evangelism. The financial support continues in 2019.
If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate
Recently with the help of our supporters, we were able to distribute a further 800 Christian books and Bibles to people from North Mindanao in the Philippines.
Our distribution contact reports that it was an opportunity to share what the Word says about facing persecution in an area where incidents of persecution frequently occur. He reports that receiving the books was a great encouragement to our brothers and sisters in this hostile area.
Some of the recipients were so thankful that they kissed the books and Bibles after they received them.
Please thank the Lord for the successful completion of this project and pray for further planned distributions in this area.
SPECIAL REPORT FROM MINDANO, PHILIPPINES
In an historic move in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, has signed an agreement in Mindanao to give local rebel groups a new autonomy with the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Numerous administrations have conducted peace negotiations with rebel groups including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), resulting in multiple versions of the proposed law, which was earlier called Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The Bangsamoro area has a large non-Muslim population. Sharia law elements are expected to take hold and only be applicable to Muslims. By instigating this law, it allows an Islamic sub-state within a secular, multicultural and mainly-Christian country to evolve steadily, which over time which will enlarge their governance in Mindanao.
What does this mean for the Christians in this area?
VOM Australia received this report directly from our national contact in Mindanao.
“President Duterte has already signed the Bangsamoro Basic Law for Mindanao and there are many areas in Mindanao where the newly formed Bangsamoro government will be implemented, and their jurisdiction of areas, territory and dominion will expand to many towns, and other barangay or villages where they will have their domains. Townships like, North Cotabato, Lanao, Maguindanao, and many more provinces will feel the full effect. In fact, Davao del Sur is also mentioned, but there will be a plebiscite where the citizen or residents in those specific areas, town, cities, barangays are able to vote for the acceptance for their domain.”
“Help us pray, as there are pastors I have met, located in Muslim areas that are so concerned with the Bangsamoro government and what may be the result and effect to their Christian faith.”
Background to the Bangsamoro activity and how it has affected believers in Mindanao.
Voice of the Martyrs Australia has met with believers on the Philippine island of Mindanao, where Christians are severely persecuted. They live under continual threat of attack by rebel separatists. In addition, the rebels steal their crops, enforce land grabbing and hijack their motorbikes, in an attempt to force them out of the area. It is likely that their lives will become even more difficult, as the law comes into effect.
In October 2012, the Philippine government signed a preliminary agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (a rebel group) to create an Islamic region in Mindanao called Bangsamoro. Mindanao Christians expressed great concern that the agreement is a step toward the establishment of an independent Islamic region. While the agreement states that Christians and other non-Muslims will not be subject to sharia (Muslim law), Muslims in Bangsamoro may not have the freedom to leave Islam.
We asked a pastor why he stays in Mindanao when he could have a peaceful life in another part of the Philippines.
He said, “For me, it’s not really difficult. We need to feed the sheep.”
The pastor asked only for more Bibles, as many Christian families in his village do not have one. VOM is working to ensure that Christians in Mindanao who live under threat of attack by Muslim rebels will have Bibles and other Christian literature they need.
Christians in Mindanao today now face many hardships as a result of the instability in the region.
Some Christian communities have positioned watchmen on the boundary of their villages to keep 24-hour surveillance and warn of impending attacks. One senior pastor in Mindanao told us.
“We really need your prayers. We don’t know what the Muslims plan next to do to us, but what we do know is that they are determined to destroy the Christians and especially our places of worship.
Please pray for us as many of our church members are frightened.”
Last October in Mindanao, ISIS fighters from the Middle East and Indonesia joined established Islamic extremists. Hundreds of terrorists attacked the Philippine army in the region’s island city of Marawi. Civilians were taken hostage, thousands of them fled and almost the whole city was evacuated. The fighting continued for months and, at the end, 400 terrorists were killed along with more than 100 civilians and Philippine troops.
All the elements of terror are here in Mindanao waiting patiently to erupt at any time.
You can help support our work in Mindanao by donating to Philippines (where most needed).
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.