In the stillness of the evening, Jum woke to gunshots fired inside her home. Her husband, Mario Acidre, staggered into the bedroom, bleeding profusely from six bullet wounds. Mario was rushed to the hospital and after a 14-hour wait for enough blood supply, he survived surgery only to die of kidney failure.
Mario was serving as a lay pastor of the Jolo Evangelical Alliance Church in Jolo, Sulu, a small archipelago in Southern Philippines. In the last days of his life, he shared the gospel to Muslim parents in a school and asked prayers for his protection. On the eve of his death, Mario prayed for the safety of all Christian workers in Jolo, Sulu.
According to a relative, rumors had been circulating in the neighborhood about Mario being a military asset disguised as an area pastor. Three weeks before the shooting, amulet vendors were seen observing Mario as he helped repair a relative’s house. Two weeks later, these men met Mario where he worked as a security guard, requesting a ride home. Mario assented. And then, just hours before Mario was shot, the same vendors were observed attempting to sell amulets to Mario, asserting they would protect him from bullets.
Then, on September 14, just eighteen days after Mario’s shooting, another Christian leader, Nickarter “Boy” S. Gonzalo, 54, went to the police station in Isabela City, Basilan province, a major island in the Sulu group of islands within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). There, he reported and filed a police report on a suspicious man wearing a bonnet following him. Three hours later, at 6 pm, he was parking his motorcycle at his home when an unknown assailant gunned him down with three bullets to his back. He was rushed to a local hospital where he succumbed to his bullet wounds at 7:30 pm.
Local sources said that Boy, a well-known and outspoken peace advocate and respected Christian leader, had been active in peace-building initiatives in his area. He was a former elder of the Isabela Alliance Church.
Both Mario’s and Boy’s killers remain unidentified and their motives unclear, pending police investigation. Since the death of Mario a number of Christian workers in the Jolo area have received threats.
Father, we pray that Your comfort would engulf Mario’s wife Jum and their children. Strengthen and sustain them as they mourn their loss. Encourage and protect Christians in Jolo, especially those who have been threatened with abduction. And we pray Your hand of consolation to be upon Boy’s wife Helen and their children Winston (23), Lenie Ann (22) and Casey (21). Instill in others the courage and zeal Boy had as a peacemaker and grant them opportunity to carry on this work. Amen