Militants hiding in Philippines’ south

By October 28, 2008

Philippines (MNN) — Intelligence
reports suggest there are nearly 60 Islamic militants seeking sanctuary or
undergoing training on the southern island of Mindanao, in the Philippines.

In spite of more restrictive
border controls, there is evidence that Jihadis are arriving from Indonesia and
Malaysia. Most of them appear to be
fleeing security crackdowns.

According to one news report, two
key suspects in the deadly 2002 Bali bombing are believed to be hiding out in
the southern Philippines with members of the Abu Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf is a small, well-connected radical
Muslim group with a lethal record on their hits.

Their growing presence causes
concern, especially for those involved in church leadership and evangelism. The
sectarian violence already experienced in the last decade showed a concerted
effort to rid whole islands of Christian presence, resulting in terror and
slaughter.

Even so, the church is still
growing, and there are many who respond to the hope of the Gospel.  However, would-be church leaders face another
obstacle: poverty and training.

That's why John Lowrey with Christian Resources
International
is in the Philippines this week for a pastors'
conference. CRI's goal is to provide the
tools they need to be more effective.

There were over 500 pastors and
workers gathered in Ilo Ilo last week for the first meeting. "The theme of it was 'Together, we
can.' They were talking about pooling
resources and energies of all of the churches there in that region, working
together for the common cause of the Kingdom. We were able to come in and give
some added support to these pastors–so many of these guys have almost nothing
to work with." 

Lowrey says most of these pastors
now have a Bible of their own, but not much more. There is a sense of urgency as the militants
make their presence felt. There may soon
come a time when outside help to the church will be hampered by the threat of
violence. Training and resourcing must
come now, while the doors are still open.

Over the last week, CRI provided
church leaders like these with study Bibles, commentaries, concordances or Bible
dictionaries to help them further their ministries.

Lowrey says the hope these church
leaders share is inspiring. "We
should be praying for the safety of these pastors because of the persecution. It
probably is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The further south
you go in the island chain, the more militant Islam is. Where we are at,
they're not seeing as much of that, but they know that the time is
coming." 

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