Smoke rises from beyond a mosque in besieged Marawi in this photo from Christianity Today.
Have you ever felt alone? Desperately alone?
We have met the
church in places like that. Places where they were unaware that anyone
else in the world even knows the name of Jesus Christ.
When we have arrived and told them we are and will be praying for them – not just those of us standing in front of them, but all of you
across the globe – I cannot describe the looks I have seen on the faces
of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nik Ripken illustrates it this
way in The Insanity of Obedience: “They are moved to the depths
of their souls when they heard we had not forgotten them, that
believers in other places had never ceased to pray for them.”
In the days ahead, I
want to focus on some who are especially in need of our prayers. They
are people living in Muslim nations, where Climbing For Christ serves,
who are under siege.
Let’s begin in the Philippines on the Muslim-impacted island of Mindanao.
In 2014, after years of conflict, the Philippine government signed an
agreement with an Islamist separatist group to create a region called
Bangsamoro, formerly known as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The establishment of this region has been delayed by controversial
President Rodrigo Duterte. Those aiming to set up an Islamic State on
Mindanao, including the Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, and
its offshoot Maute terrorist group, have committed many violent acts.
Most recently, the
Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, took over the
Mindanao city of Marawi. More than 100 have been killed, hundreds more
taken hostage, and hundreds of thousands have fled from a crisis that is
“ISIS Flag Flies in Asia’s Most Christian Country,” a headline screamed in Christianity Today.
The Philippines, a nation of more than 102 million, is 91 percent
Christian (mostly Catholic) and 4.8 percent Muslim, according to the
Joshua Project. But the island of Mindanao, home to about 22 million
people, is roughly two-thirds Christian and one-third Muslim.
believers (those who converted from Islam to Christianity) are targeted
on several of the islands. Marawi, in particular, is 99.6 percent Muslim
and “most of the tenets of Sharia (Islamic law) are practiced in the
city,” according to Christian Aid Mission.
unreached people groups call Mindanao home. But the fear of Islamic
extremists deters many from GO-ing there to deliver the Good News of
Christians in Muslim-controlled Mindanao to be bold in their faith and
continue to witness for Christ despite growing persecution. We lift the
leaders determining the future government of Mindanao and ask for
wisdom. We ask the LORD to send His Spirit to work in the hearts of
people in the Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf and Maute group
so that they may know Jesus in a personal way. May the church (today
and in the future) feel the prayers of your people and realize they are