Islamist militants have burnt a church and taken Christians hostage in Marawi, a city on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Around 100 armed men launched an assault on Marawi on Tuesday (23 May), prompting thousands of residents to flee and leading the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to impose martial law across the whole of Mindanao. A local Christian leader said that the Islamists seized a pastor, ten worshippers and three church workers, and are threatening to kill them unless the government withdraws its security forces. There are also reports that a policemen has been beheaded by Islamists.
Please pray for the safe return of Pastor Teresito ‘Chito’ Suganob and the 13 other Christians kidnapped from his church. Armed men raided St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday and abducted the 14 Christians. As well as setting light to the cathedral, they also burned down three buildings of the church-owned Dansalan College.
The Filipino army engaged in firefights with militants whom the Government has since identified as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group: two soldiers and a police chief were killed. President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law in Mindanao, an island with a significant Muslim population.
Pray for our Christian family in the Philippines, especially in the south of the country where several Islamist terrorist groups have been active.
Pray especially for wisdom for church leaders in the southern Philippines: several pastors have been held hostage by terrorists.
Pray that God will thwart the plans of the men of violence, including the Maute Group, considered one of the newest but most feared terror groups in the country.
(Sources: BBC, Morning Star News)
The government of the Philippines has been engaged in a decades-long conflict with Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines, which has a significant Muslim population. The previous government agreed a peace deal with some Islamist armed groups in 2014 and also proposed creating an autonomous region in Bangsamoro – an area which includes the city of Marawi – with its own laws, which would have allowed for the implementation of sharia. Public opposition to the deal has resulted in the legislation to enact it being delayed, and some Islamists have continued their violent campaign.
Please pray for our Christian family in north-east Kenya who fear an imminent attack after a renewed outbreak of violence against non-Muslims in the region. Al-Shabaab militants appear to have stepped up their campaign of violence in areas bordering Somalia – and Christians in the city of Mandera believe they could be the next target.
‘The Christians living in Mandera are living in great fear of an imminent attack,’ one church leader said. ‘We have to think whether to continue with the Christian mission work or to leave the place. We cannot pretend that all is well.’ Please pray that our Christian family in Mandera and across Kenya will stand firm in their faith. Al-Shabaab militants are suspected of involvement in a gun attack on quarry workers in El Wak, 105 miles from Mandera, on May 12. Two people died, including a Christian named Dalama Otieno. It’s believed the group were targeted because they were non-Muslims.
Three days later, government official Dekow Abbey Sirat was shot dead at his home in Mandera County. Al-Shabaab said it carried out the attack.
The same group killed six Christians in a grenade and gun attack on a residential compound in Mandera last October. Previously, in late-2014, it had killed 38 non-Muslims at a quarry in nearby Kormey and shot dead 19 Christians after hijacking a bus near Mandera.
Ask God to protect and strengthen His people in Mandera: pray that they will look to Him, their ‘refuge and fortress’ (Psalm 91:2)
Pray security forces will be adequately deployed
Pray that God’s people in Kenya will stand firm in their faith. Pray that attacks will only strengthen their resolve to build God’s kingdom in their nation and that their hearts will not grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
Pray for Al-Shabaab militants, that their plans will be thwarted and that they will renounce violence.
Rev. J Laning and Margaret, Elder John VanBaren and Val spent about two weeks (May 2-16) in Myanmar with Rev. Titus Certi, their church, and a group totalling 41 men including 31 from “up country” for a Reformation conference. This is II Timothy 2:2 in action. The wives and girls served humbly in the background. I hope to add recent pics of the church and the men involved. Meantime the full account should soon be available at:
A new shortwave radio program created by North Korean defectors and VOM is reaching an estimated 2 million North Koreans nightly. Each 90-minute program includes a Scripture reading, encouraging messages from Christians around the world, readings from Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ and a recitation of the Nicene Creed. Although largely isolated from their worldwide Christian family, North Korean believers now have access to God’s Word and, through the creed, a connection to historical Christianity. Despite the possible penalties, North Koreans continue to listen to the broadcasts. Pray that the broadcasts will continue to reach new believers and unbelievers, and pray that those who hear them will grow in faith and find ways to share the gospel.
North Korean defectors share the gospel in the North Korean dialect via radio waves.
Xavier serves at great personal risk in paramilitary country.
“Xavier Gonzalez,” a church planter working in one of Colombia’s most dangerous areas, receives frequent death threats. Years ago, he felt God leading him to start a church in one of the country’s poorest cities. Although friends warned him that he could be killed, Xavier remained faithful to God’s calling. Since planting the church, he has received threats from guerrillas, paramilitary members and street gangs. Xavier and his 130 church members are hated by many in Colombia, but they choose to love their enemies. And their acts of love are making a difference, as many in the community have grown to respect them. Pray for the protection of Xavier and his church so they can continue sharing the gospel and serving others.
Cheng and Zhao were arrested three years ago and treated despicably by the police. They were accused of being cultists. Zhao has a wife and two young children and elderly parents-all being cared for by the church.