The 7,000 islands of the Philippine Archipelago stretch for more than 1,000 miles near Asia’s southeastern rim. The islands regularly endure the deadly blows of tropical storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
In addition to natural disasters, the country is torn by man-made violence. In recent months, strikes, violent demonstrations, and rebel-related murders, kidnapings, and extortion have rocked the country. Much of the rebel activity takes place in the remote, jungle-covered mountains of Mindanao, the Philippines’ second-largest island. It is primarily on Mindanao that congregations have been harassed and church leaders have been murdered in recent months. Hard data is difficult to obtain, but some facts are known.
Manuel Impit, a student pastor from the Alliance School of Church Growth, was killed last year in the mountain community of Tamugan after he was dragged from his church on Sunday afternoon. At least one other person was killed in the same incident.
In a separate attack, 20 armed men dragged Conservative Baptist deacon Luis Pademal from his home. In the ensuing struggle, he and three other church members were killed. Four members of another Conservative Baptist church were killed in a similar attack in a remote town. At the end of November, four leaders of a Christian and Missionary Alliance church were reported to have been shot and killed.
The reasons for those attacks and the recent murders of other church leaders are difficult to verify. In some cases, church members had refused to allow the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA) to use their building for meetings to indoctrinate members of the community. In at least one other case, church members had refused to give money or food to the NPA, despite threats from ...1
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