Risking their Lives for God’s Kingdom
When the director of an indigenous ministry in the Philippines visited a pastor on the island of Mindanao for a few days, the pastor and his son vowed not to sleep at night during their stay.
“We will stay up all night keeping watch with guns,” Pastor Enso* told the director, Bayani Leyson. “Islamic insurgents sometimes pass through, and Communist guerrillas are watching our movements, and they could attack if they see outsiders come in.”
The growth of Christianity in a remote area of Davao Occidental Province, was hindering Communist recruiting efforts, and the guerrillas were out to put a stop to it by any means. On Nov. 27, 2015, Pastor Enso and his son were bathing in the Culaman River at 6 a.m. when gunmen believed to be members of a Communist death squad fired on them.
They died in the river where they used to conduct baptisms. Pastor Enso was 50; his son was 24.
Only 10 days after he took oversight of the congregation, a suspected communist terrorist killed him.
Survived by his wife and seven children, the pastor had led food and medical relief efforts. In his place stepped a Christian leader, Pastor Renzo, full of faith and boldness. Only 10 days after he took oversight of the congregation, a suspected communist terrorist killed him.
Another leader, Pastor Bobbie, began leading the church, but it wasn’t long before ministry director Leyson received a call from him saying he was surrounded by armed rebels.
“He escaped, but I’m not sure where he went,” Leyson said. “He ran away with his wife and children, and we haven’t heard anything else of him. Now, without a pastor, the congregation’s spirits are down.”
A nephew of Pastor Enso has volunteered to lead the church. Rebels have already fired at him, he said.
“Someone shot at me but didn’t hit me,” he told Leyson. “The Lord helped the bullet to miss me.”
Likewise, Leyson said he and others were shot at while baptizing new believers.
“Only by the grace of God were we not hit,” he said.
Rebels have taken note as villagers who were once animists and/or Buddhists sometimes come to Christ in large numbers – nearly 600 members in one recent church plant. A few years ago, a commander of an Islamist rebel group, the Moro Liberation Front, put his faith in Christ after indigenous missionaries provided medicines to his son.
“He was amazed that we were doing that,” Leyson said. “He later surrendered to the government and asked forgiveness from the villages where he’d burned and raped.”
Native missionaries such as these are risking their lives to plant and grow churches throughout the Philippines. Please consider a gift today to expand God’s kingdom in remote areas that only native missionaries can reach.
*Names changed for security reasons