Neighbors help Christians escape Filipino city under siege

Philippines (MNN) — The Filipino city of Marawi is still under siege since ISIS-pledged Maute militants overtook it on May 23rd and killed several dozen civilians. The current death toll is estimated to be somewhere between 20 and 38 citizens.

Reserve soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Although the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday the city would be freed in three days, now officials are saying it could be longer. The extremist militants have stockpiled enough supplies in the city to last a couple months or more.

Nearly 1,500 civilians have escaped Marawi so far, but it’s estimated another 2,000 remain trapped in areas held by the Muslim extremists. A report from Reuters says citizens fleeing Marawi were often stopped and asked if there were any Christians among them. Many of these civilians covered for their Christian neighbors to help them escape with groups leaving the city.

Even though the Philippines population is mostly Catholic Christian, Frontiers USA’s President Bob Blincoe says the radical Muslim population in the south is getting more and more attention.

“This part of the Philippines in the south has always been a Muslim population, [it] never became Christian or Catholic as did the majority of the Philippines. So here it is rising in the news, but it always has been a place where radicals have found refuge and have stirred the population for the purposes [and] the cause of militant Islam in the world.

(Photo courtesy of World Mission)

“We shouldn’t be surprised [at this situation], but I tell you, I’ve asked the Lord to make it hurt every time for me, because I don’t want to be desensitized to these terrible things that are happening out there. They must hurt the Lord very much. I want them to hurt the Church and me as well.”

Frontiers USA works to bring the Gospel to Muslims and share the love of Christ. They have 21 sending bases outside the U.S., and one is in the Philippines. Blincoe says true peace can only come as the Gospel message is allowed to spread and freely be shared.

“The best thing you can do is to send missionaries and to bring about the purposes of the Lord…. When you have seen peace achieved in the world, it is in the places where the Gospel has come.

“The way to repair the world, the way to reconciliation, the way the walls will fall down is the way of Jesus Christ. His teachings of the Sermon on the Mount is what the world needs now. So if you want to bring about peace, you want to know what Christians should do — we should be sending, we should be sacrificially giving, and yes, we should be praying.”

So how can you pray for the Philippines today? Blincoe suggests, “Let us pray for the Christians in the Philippines. They are being tested in a way that we have never been tested in our country — for the very soul of their country. Let us be praying that their faith would faileth not and that they might have what it takes from the Lord to bring about a witness of the Gospel, the Gospel of peace, in the Southern Philippines.”