ISIS-affiliates Attack in Philippines
Please pray for the people of Marawi, southern Philippines. Yesterday afternoon, extremists from the Maute Group descended upon the city, firing gunshots and putting up ISIS flags. Three fires broke out, catching fire a city jail, a Christian school and a chapel. It is unconfirmed whether it was set by the extremists or was simply a result of the fighting.
On the ground, the people are asking for prayers. The residents are threatened. They say homes are being trespassed, and that women not in hijabs are being taken away. The black flags are perched on top of a police car and a hospital. Social media screams with pleas for help, screenshots of texts of relatives on lockdown. One post says people must recite the shahada when asked, else be killed.
The fighting is said to spring from a hunt for Isnilon Hapilon, local Abu Sayaff leader tagged as the head of ISIS in the Philippines. Hapilon has not been caught.
President Duterte declared Martial Law in the whole southern Philippines for 60 days. He cut meetings in Russia short to deal with the crisis. The military says things are in control now, and denies that ISIS was involved, saying the local Maute Group was wreaking havoc only to get foreign attention.
Gina*, leader of our field team, forwarded a message from a Muslim-background believer (MBB): “Please pray for the believers of Jesus here in Marawi, that God will protect us. Roman Catholic teachers from Dansalan College have been trapped by ISIS, including the priest.”
Dansalan College was established by United Church of Christ in the Philippines in 1948. On its website, it says it advocates the importance of interfaith relationship, exhibiting it firsthand as it has 95% Muslim students and 80% Christian staff. Three buildings in the college burned down from yesterday’s attack.
“Some students from a Christian group in Mindanao State University (MSU) – one of the first establishments taken over by the Maute in the siege – holed up together in a boarding house,” adds our fieldworker, Khalil*. “They are laughing. It could be since they’re Filipinos, they can laugh at anything, but I believe it’s because of faith that they can laugh.”
At the moment, there really is no certainty about the situation in Marawi, but the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)
“The military has called for an evacuation of Marawi,” Khalil continues. “But there is no clear plan as to how they can get out from the city as all roads are blocked and it is uncertain whether it is safe to pass there. Many do not have money to go home, others do not have vehicles.”
- For the students trapped in Mindanao State University to be freed. They are appealing that someone trusted can pull them out of MSU despite the risks.
- For our local team. Khalil asks for prayer: “Please cover us in prayer as we have Youth Kairos course training now. Most of the participants are MBB youths from Sama, Tausug and Yakan tribe. It is doubly hard for two of our facilitators as they have to lead and at the same time worry about their family and church in Marawi.” Pray that our team would be comforted and enabled by the Lord as they minister to those affected by the siege. Pray that God would grant them wisdom as they navigate the sensitive situation. Pray that everyone affected would be covered in God’s peace.
- For an end to the fighting. Pray that President Duterte and his government would make the right steps in addressing the crisis. Pray for the ISIS affiliates, that the Lord would prevent them from hurting more people. Pray that somehow they would come to the Lord.