In the Muslim-majority Southern Philippines, Christians can face persecution and opposition. An undercover community of Christians are sharing stories from the Bible to disciple and encourage the next generation of the church.
Ten-year-old Wahid* has already learned a powerful truth – words that he can cling to in the difficult times ahead. Where Wahid lives in the Southern Philippines, choosing to follow Jesus can be very dangerous. While a lot of the country’s population is Christian, his region is mostly Muslim – and anybody who decides to leave Islam for another faith can face death threats and being disowned by their family and community.
“They can get strong by sharing their stories and knowing that God helps others through them”
But Wahid is finding a valuable new community – a group of Christians sharing stories from the Bible. Wahid and other young secret believers come with their parents to this undercover group, led by Open Doors local partners, and together find comfort and inspiration as they read the Bible together.
The group meets twice a month, sharing stories about the heroes of faith and how God takes care of His children. Each time someone tells a story, they learn how to disciple others, ensuring that everyone learns these important lessons.
Learning about God’s faithfulness
“At this very young age, there are dangers that they will face but these children don’t easily give up,” shares Faith*, a local Open Doors partner. Recently, the children have read about God’s faithfulness to Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21. “This story reminds the kids that, even when things are hard, they can get strong by sharing their stories and knowing that God helps others through them,” Faith says. “By telling this story, they're not just talking about the past. They're spreading hope and understanding in their community.”
could provide trauma counselling to a persecuted child, bringing hope and healing.
Wahid and Ramsi*, another young believer, resonate deeply with this passage. “God won’t leave us, and He helps us when we’re in need,” Ramsi says.
The secret meetings wouldn’t be possible without the support of the parents who want to see their children grow in their new faith. “Even though there's danger,” Faith says, “the parents support their kids, showing how faith can help families stick together, cope and overcome tough times.”
Beacons of hope
Looking ahead, the group wants to help even more people understand the Bible. More kids are interested in hearing these stories, and they want to reach out to them. The stories can help everyone see that we're all connected – and support these children as they face persecution or opposition.
In the Muslim-dominated area where these gatherings take place, numerous secret believers know they live in a region where openly declaring their Christianity can lead to expulsion from their homes or even death. Faith notes that in a region where danger and faith often intersect, these children from this Southern Philippine tribe are like beacons of hope. “Their whispered stories, admirable faith and unity show how people can be strong regardless of the circumstances,” she explains.
“I thank God for the times we meet. It's amazing to know that God can do many things.”
Shamira*, one of the young participants, says she looks forward to each gathering and testifies to the power of fellowship. “I thank God for the times we meet,” she says. “I always wait for the day we come together again. It's amazing to know that God can do many things.”
Every Christian child should be protected, provided for and given an education to give them hope for the future – and programmes like this one help to make that happen. Wahid, Ramsi and Shamira are part of the next generation of the church, but they are also vital members of the church today. Your prayers and gifts can help strengthen and encourage them, and contribute towards the future of the global church.
*Names changed due to security reasons