OVERVIEW: In the Muslim majority southern island region of Mindanao, Muslim groups and the government have engaged in a longstanding conflict over the Muslims’ desire to form an independent Muslim state. Recently the Muslim groups, such as Abu Sayyaf and Maute, have pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) to gain financial help and foreign fighters. Muslim extremists routinely threaten Christians, often driving them out of Muslim majority areas, and many pastors and believers have been killed. However, a significant number of believers remain in these areas and share their faith.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Most people in the greater Philippines are Christians, but the Mindanao region includes areas with a significant Muslim majority and where Islamic extremism has a strong influence.
PERSECUTOR: In the Mindanao region, Christians are targeted by both Muslim and communist rebels.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN THE PHILIPPINES: In the Mindanao region, attacks on Christians are sporadic and unpredictable, creating an environment of constant tension for Christians. When conflicts break out, government forces respond. In some areas, the government has ceded control to Islamists, and Christians’ rights are not protected in those areas. Churches are legal, and many Bible schools throughout the Mindanao region produce graduates who return to share the gospel in their local community.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles are available in cities, but they are expensive.
VOM WORK: VOM responds to attacks on Christians and provides tools and training for front-line workers.