In the troubled Philippine islands, evangelical Christians are hoping for the best—and preparing for the worst. One year after a bloodless revolution swept Corazon Aquino into the presidency, political instability has intensified.
The churches affected most are congregations in the remote regions where the communist New People’s Army is most active. Last year, 53 Christian and Missionary Alliance churches were forced to close their doors when entire villages relocated to safer regions.
Despite the upheaval, major evangelical denominations continue to add new churches at an annual rate of 12 to 20 percent. “The socio-political problems and dangers seem to contribute to church growth,” said Ben de Jesus, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines. “More people are looking for something to hang on to.”
A Communist Challenge
Church leaders cite communism as a threat that endangers their country’s future. The prospect of a strong communist movement is both frightening and motivating for Filipino Christians.
“We have the opportunity to evangelize now, so we must redouble our efforts,” said de Jesus. “We don’t know how long we will have.”
This sense of urgency has brought about greater unity across denominational lines. “Christian people of all persuasions are beginning to come together to talk,” said Oscar Baldemor, general director of the Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines. “Formerly they might have emphasized their differences, but now they have a common enemy.”
An example of Christian unity can be found in Davao, the major city in the southern island of Mindanao. With the city surrounded ...1
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