Local Missionaries in Philippines
A vast archipelago with 22,549 miles of coastline, the Philippines is comprised of more than 7,000 islands bordered by the Philippine Sea, South China Sea, Celebes Sea, and Taiwan—directly north of the country. Approximately 700 of the islands are inhabited, with 11 containing the vast majority of the population. Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south are the two largest islands.
Prone to devastating typhoons, the Philippine islands are covered in mountains and tropical rainforests. Around 132 people groups live in the more remote mountainous areas. Philippine culture is a mix of Eastern and Western cultures, including Spanish surnames, towns, and streets; and the widespread use of the English language.
An officially secular state, the Philippines has a democratic government with freedom of religion. The Catholic Church is highly influential, with more than 80 percent of the population identifying as Catholic. A large number of Catholics, however, practice a syncretistic blend of Catholicism, animism, and witchcraft.
The Protestant population is rapidly growing, creating a huge need for trained church leaders. Thousands of rural congregations languish without adequate leadership, falling into unbiblical teaching and moral failure. Thousands of pastors struggle to survive on the meager offerings of their congregations, and many view formal training as an unaffordable luxury.
Approximately 5 percent of the population is Islamic, as Muslims from the southern island of Mindanao, a hotbed of radicalism, move throughout the country. Muslims succeeded in obtaining an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, where Christians have long faced hostilities from Islamic militants and Muslim family members. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), comprised of five provinces, is free from the national government. BARMM is ruled under sharia law that separatist terrorists such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have long sought, with drastic reduction of rights for non-Muslims, regarded as second-class citizens.
Mindanao’s population is more than 20 percent Muslim, with most centered in the BARMM provinces, where Islamic missionaries arrived nearly 200 years before Spanish Catholic colonization began in 1565. The U.S. State Department has warned against travel to Mindanao since January 2009.
Despite the danger, a Christian Aid Mission-assisted ministry has led people to Christ among nearly all of the Muslim-majority people groups in Mindanao. Other ministries who work in dangerous regions report that some of their missionaries were martyred for the sake of the gospel. Financial support strengthens them and helps the gospel spread in the most difficult circumstances. Other needs include Bibles, motorcycles for missionary transportation, projectors to show gospel films, and funding for training, children’s programs, radio programs, free medical and dental outreaches in poor villages, and livelihood projects.
Sources: Joshua Project, CIA World Factbook, Operation World, U.S. State Department
How to Pray for the
- Pray that there would be witnesses for Christ soon among every people group in the Philippines
- Pray for courage, protection, and provision for indigenous missionaries working on the frontlines in some of the most dangerous areas of the Philippines.
- Pray that God would bring His growing Church to maturity, providing necessary resources, opportunities, and trainers to root them in the foundations of God’s Word.
More stories from the Philippines
A native Christian worker has started a house church among his relatives, and the ministry that supports him is praying other members of the community will soon join. “Their days now are not only spent in farming and hunting, but they have a special day spent only in worshipping the Lord,” the ministry leader said.
Praise God that outreaches to various tribes are building God’s kingdom as native Christian workers share the gospel in Bible studies, Vacation Bible School and personal conversations. New Christians have shown marked growth in discipleship; one village elder whose son was jailed on murder charges said he would have retaliated had he not become a Christian.
Poor children in many areas of the country were grateful to receive regular meals that provided sorely needed nutrition. One native Christian ministry leader said donor giving enabled workers to feed children in a remote area and also tend to their spiritual needs.
A company that delivers free food to poor people scavenging in dumps required employees to do a dance before distribution to entertain the crowds. One of the employees was a new Christian discipled by native ministry workers, and she requested to share something spiritual instead of doing a dance.
A young woman who grew up in church had suicidal thoughts since her high school years, but after hearing a native worker teach about salvation and the Holy Spirit, she learned to trust in Christ. “It is her desire to keep on growing in the knowledge of God,” the ministry leader said.
Native Christian workers in the Philippines are taking a more holistic approach than they did five years ago, making gospel outreach even more effective, a ministry leader said. The coronavirus crisis of the past three years accelerated the new emphasis as workers were compelled to meet more physical needs. “Poverty and sickness are prevalent,” the native ministry leader said. “Addressing these needs together with the gospel is effective.”