‘He was one of the most remarkable men I have ever met.’

Benigno Aquino, the outspoken leader of the opposition to Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, had been warned repeatedly that he might be assassinated if he returned from the United States to his homeland. In this country, people who knew him well say Aquino’s return was a direct result of his Christian faith. Aquino was shot to death as he left the plane upon returning to Manila.

“The media have glossed over his religious faith, and it explains everything about the man,” according to Charles W. Colson. The two shared much: they both served time in prison, they were politically ambitious, and both had sudden adult conversions to Christ. Since 1980 they had cultivated a close friendship.

“Senator Aquino was one of the most remarkable men I have ever met,” Colson said. “He was one of the half-dozen most deeply intellectual persons with whom I have come into contact.… I consider Benigno Aquino a Christian martyr because he had the courage to act on his beliefs and the scriptural teaching of justice and human rights regardless of personal sacrifice.”

Aquino planned his return to the Philippines after reading about how Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s faith compelled him to return to Germany before World War II. His stint as a Philippine senator in the late 1960s was a stormy one, ending abruptly in 1972 when he was jailed for subversion. Known as a sharp-tongued firebrand, Aquino had been groomed to oppose Marcos in general elections. They never took place because Marcos invoked martial law and disbanded all political parties, establishing himself as dictator.

Still imprisoned in 1976, Aquino discovered Christianity after his mother, active in the Roman Catholic renewal movement known ...

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