Project Prayer: Ramadan 2016 - Day 26

Gary Fallesen

Project Prayer: Ramadan 2016 - Day 26

Day 26: Entering rooms in the House of Islam —Philippines

By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ

The God of the Bible has an eternal promise for all who are living on the many islands of the Philippines. (Photo by Arlene Bolante, Mission: Philippines 2011)

God allows us to choose. He has given us free will. We can decide, as Joshua did, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Or we can go our own way.

We cannot force God on people. But He has made it clear, “choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Unless you choose not to believe that.

Every man and woman must decide for themselves.

But this decision cannot be made under the threat of a machete, a gun, a holy book, or even a presidential decree.

“In 1898, the United States claimed victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War, and bought the Philippines for $20 million,” Eliza Griswold writes in her deserved best-seller, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam. “The Moros (Muslims in the southern Philippines) hoped America would grant them an independent homeland in the Muslim south. President William McKinley, a devout Methodist who’d planned to become a pastor early in his life, had other plans. Baffled, at first, with what to do with the islands, one night he had the notion that America would establish something like a Christian civilization. He told a Methodist delegation visiting the White House that it was the United States’ duty ‘to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ died.’”

Some might call this a form of “manifest destiny.” Others, more forgiving perhaps, would say it was only a well-intentioned idea.

Meaning of “Moro people”: Spanish invaders called Islamic rebels “Moros” after their North African enemies the Moors. There are 13 indigenous people groups, including the unreached Maguindanao (1.2 million), Maranao (1.2 million), and Sama Bangingi (93,000).

The Philippines, introduced to Islam by Malay sailors in the 14th century, but conquered by Spanish Catholics in the 1500s, has long been divided between Allah (in the south) and the God of the Bible (in the north). Overall, this country of more than 101 million is 91 percent Christian and less than 5 percent Muslim, according to the Joshua Project. So many have chosen the LORD.

But the minority Muslim population has held its ground and battled (often violently) for an autonomous homeland. This despite a manmade plan to Christianize the southern Philippines.

“The United States employed a policy of shipping Filipino Christians from the Catholic north to the Muslim south,” Griswold writes. “The United States believed that Christian farmers – rather than Muslims – would better safeguard American rubber, banana, and pineapple plantations and secure foreign business interests.”

This led to the rise of Islamist rebel armies, which have in recent years nearly attained their goal of an autonomous region on the island of Mindanao. (There have been other failed attempts to establish Muslim areas in the Cordilleras on Luzon, where Climbing For Christ has been ministering since 2007.)

They have done so by the sword. In fact, one of the leaders of this movement is the Abu Sayyaf Group, whose name literally means “Bearer of the Sword.”

Amidst all of the tragedy (up to 200,000 have died in the armed conflict between Catholic invaders and Muslim separatists) and politicizing, God has sent workers to spread His love.

One C4C Philippines member serving on Mindanao speaks of doing medical relief missions among Muslim people.

“We have different platforms and strategies for winning them (over),” this member explains. “We are more about community development, and the bottom line is evangelism, discipling/training, and simple church planting.”

They have used Ramadan as a time of prayer, much as we have through Project Prayer: Ramadan 2016.

“No to hatred, violence and terrorism,” our member posted on social media. “But praying with faith, hope and love for the Muslim world.”

Let’s join them in this prayer today: may the Muslim people in the Philippines (and throughout the world) be introduced to Jesus in love and allowed to make the ultimate decision for themselves.

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