Christian workers and churches are in danger after the siege in Marawi, the Philippines, where they are being pressured to stop their ministries.
When the war broke out in Marawi residents fled to evacuation sites outside the city. Many Christian organisations, churches and workers came to help. Over time, the Christians were able to connect and establish relationships with the community, even leading to some to Christ. Because of their compassion, the residents welcomed the Christians to their houses.
Now some Islamic leaders are trying to stop the Christian workers from doing their work by threatening them.
‘I WON'T STOP’
Beth*, said that one of her Muslim relatives has contacted her over the phone and asked her about her involvement with the work of the pastors in Marawi. Their conversation ended with them telling Beth to stop what she is doing or else she would be ‘picked up’.
“I won't stop because I know I'm not doing anything wrong," Beth said. “And of course, my heart's desire is for other Maranos to know Jesus like I do."
Beth blocked her relative's number, but by borrowing other people’s phones they continued to contact her. According to the last message Beth received, this relative wants to meet with her alone.
GETTING RID OF CHRISTIANS
Pastor Rey*, another Christian worker, also shared about the reports he received that the mayor of Marawi City has made a statement against the Christian workers who are doing disaster relief operations, saying that they do this to “Christianize the Maranos”.
Pastor Rey doubts that the mayor would say this and thinks there is someone dangerous behind these rumours. “Someone really wants to get rid of the Christians in Marawi," he said.
Pastor Rey doesn't let fear stop his work. He still travels frequently to where the Marawi residents are staying. He knows that there is always the possibility he might never return home.
“I just leave everything up to the Lord," Pastor Rey said. “I tell Him prove to the people that He is with me by letting me return to my family alive and let me return to the community alive and well."
WHAT HAPPENED IN MARAWI?
So-called Islamic State (IS) fighters laid siege to the city of Marawi, the largest Muslim city in the predominantly Catholic nation, in May 2017, after government forces clashed with armed militants and tried to arrest an IS leader.
IS fighters fought back and declared the city a new caliphate of IS.
They burned a Catholic church, the city jail and two schools and took control of the city’s major roads and bridges. Churchgoers and residents were taken hostage and a police officer was beheaded.
Residents were advised to barricade themselves in their homes until military help arrived. But when the fighting didn’t ease 300,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and stay in temporary shelters outside the city.
Five months after the siege began, in October 2017, the government announced that there were no more militants in Marawi. But the city is still in ruins. It will cost an estimated $1.1bn to rebuild. Many residents fear they will never be able to return home.
- For protection on Beth and Pastor Rey as they continue ministering to affected those affected by the siege
- For the Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus and now face hostility and threats from their families
- For those who are rebuilding their lives in refugee camps after the devastation of siege, pray for comfort and provisions.
*Name changed for security reasons