A year ago, the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines, was taken over by militants linked to the so called Islamic State group. The city was overrun in a few days, but it took several months for it to be liberated. During those months 98% of the population was displaced. Those that remained who couldn’t recite the Muslim prayers were executed.
As you can imagine, a year on, the effects of the violence are still being felt. So it’s amazing that last week Christians in the city joined with their Muslim neighbours at the beginning of Ramadan to fast together – part of a local tradition dating back almost 40 years.
Christian families have been encouraged to ‘accompany their Muslim neighbours in fasting, prayer and service to the poor’, and ‘to sacrifice one meal in any day of Ramadan and to donate the cost of the meal to the rehabilitation of Marawi communities’.
The tradition, known as ‘Duyog Ramadan’, or ‘One With Ramadan’, dates back to 1979, and is ‘an appreciation of the early memories’ of Muslim and Christian interaction in the city, local bishop Edwin de la Pena explained.
He said this year’s Ramadan would be an opportunity to promote peacebuilding involving Muslim and Christian youths in the troubled Mindanao region, to which Marawi belongs.
Your prayers and support enabled Open Doors to provide practical support for our brothers and sisters who were forced to flee their homes last year, and our workers still helping Christians in Marawi with livelihood projects, biblical training, reconstruction and housing assistance, and reconciliation projects.
Henry*, a carpenter from Marawi, was captured by extremists during the siege last year, but miraculously, he was able to escape. Watch this short video to hear his incredible story, and how your support is helping him to rebuild his life:
Thank you for enabling Open Doors workers to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in the Philippines for as long as they need us. One believer, Dayan, told us, “When the war broke, many helped us who were there for the first week, the second week, and then they were gone. But you stayed. You gave us rice, and we have something to eat. God truly never leaves his children, and I praise Him.”
Although Marawi’s rebuilding has begun, an estimated 27,000 families still remain in evacuation centres and transition houses. Meanwhile the threat of more terrorist attacks in the country remains very real. Two weeks ago, two people were injured after a bomb went off outside a Catholic cathedral in the city of Koronadal, which is also in Mindanao and is only seven hours’ drive from Marawi. Our brothers and sisters in the Philippines continue to need our support and prayers.
Source: World Watch Monitor, Catholic news service UCAN
*name changed for security reasons
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.