As tensions flare between Islamic radicals and the Filipino military in southern regions of the Philippines, our local community development partners continue building bridges of trust into Muslim-dominated communities around the country.
When our partner ministry entered one particular Muslim-dominated community three years ago, the people there were facing daily struggles of poverty, mistrust among neighbors and constant danger from roaming drug dealers. The team began by simply prayer-walking and looking for peaceful people within the community. As relationships grew, doors opened for casting vision of transformation and wholistic community development. Leaders in the area cautiously agreed to weekly meetings and the team empowered locals with practical health training and moral lessons based on biblical teachings. Through these meetings, a sense of community deepened and everyone began expressing themselves—even women and youth. Long-held walls between Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors began to crumble.
One prominent Muslim community leader expressed, “I am thankful for the coming of your group in our community. My desire is to have gatherings like this, Muslim and non-Muslims meeting together and discussing the concerns of our community… it now became possible. In the past, we tried but it did not materialize.”
Reaching Muslims with the hope of the gospel often requires building a bridge of trust and care first. By empowering and equipping communities with powerful, life-changing tools combined with biblical moral lessons, openings emerge for sharing the gospel. Some say that it takes 100 times for a Muslim to hear the gospel before they can make a decision for Christ. Wholistic community development is opening the door to sharing the hope of Jesus in closed communities and people are responding. We rejoice because through these newly forged relationships, lives are being changed, health is improving, and the light of the gospel is shining!