Spike in persecution of church leaders in Philippines

By August 14, 2008

Philippines (MNN) — Communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels have executed a church pastor in the Mindanao area after falsely accusing him of aiding soldiers in an anti-insurgency campaign.  

Adele Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says unfortunately this trend appears likely to continue. "The reason that church leaders are in the positions of being threatened is because usually they're in places where they are advocating change. It's Islamic leaders focusing their attacks on Christian leaders."

According to the ministry, the murdered pastor, 45-year-old Josefino Estaniel, who had been kidnapped in May, had been subjected to torture during his captivity. Militant Muslim groups in the southern part of the country are intent on forming an Islamic state, and persecution of Christians is increasingly common. 

Though the Filipino people predominantly profess Christianity, those Christians living in areas with significant influence from Muslim and Communist guerrilla organizations have faced threats, kidnapping and death.

Keep praying for those who are taking the hope of Christ into the region. Pray for the family of Pastor Estaniel during this time of grief. Pray also for the safety of other church leaders in the region. 

Konyndyk says, "Pray that they will be bold and be strong. Be thankful that we have seen in these situations, where even in these climates of threat and of violence, that leaders have actually become bolder and stood up and recognized the need for strong church leaders in these kinds of environments."


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