Philippine Profiles (3)

By Jim McDonald

“They groaned because of their burdens”

The following is a letter which was received in late June from brethren in Tambobong, Davao City, Mindanao: “Greetings to you all from the Tambobong Church of Christ in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ .. . We here in Tambobong are living in the mountainside of Davao City. We are very poor people, and are surviving from our meager products of sometimes nothing at all because of the pests and diseases of the plants. Sometimes, the sudden bad weather like the strong winds come and destroy our crops, and sometimes the rains will suddenly flood and wash out our plants. This is the reason why we are hard-up. Many of us are hungry and sick, especially the children. Last year, brethren died of hunger and sickness, and many of the children got sick and died also . . . Our basic needs are food, medicine, and clothes. Many of the brethren do not have clothes. Some cannot simply worship because they do not have clothes to wear … It is of this juncture that we appeal for your mercies and kindness our dear brethren in Christ. Please help us; whether in cash to buy us food, medicine and clothing, or in kinds like canned goods, used clothes, and in any other kinds. These are all needed, and useful for us. Whatever is extended to us is deeply and heartily appreciated; so we ask of your helps to us, our dear brethren in Christ . . . May the Lord be with you my dear brethren in Christ. We await of your mercies and reply . . . In Jesus our Lord. Signed  Elders: Lopes Amoy, Kuting Enock, Tinoy A. Suboy, Pelayo Wading. Deacons: Aing Adoing, Aquino Linao, Henry Amoy; Preachers, Tinoy A. Suboy, Cito Ibog, Rolando Batawan, Henry Amoy; Attested by: Juanito P. Balbin.” We are told that the “membership of the Tambobong Church of Christ is 110 including children. Average attendance every Lord’s day is between 70 to 80.”

From the northwest corner of Mindanao comes a similar story from Luis Calapayan who sends pictures with his letter. The enclosed picture shows a “crop of rats” killed by brethren in their “rat campaign.” According to Luis the “harvest not even enough to pay back of what we have spent during the planting season, for it was being eaten by the rats. In fact we were able to get sack of rats on a one hectare of rice land.” From Cotobato (Southern Mindanao) comes another report: “I’m imploring for mercy to them who fall into the ditch of misfortune . . . farmers in Cotabato area are groaning due to black bugs infestation in their rice fields. Their rice production has terribly dropped down. Before the coming of the black bugs infestation farmers will harvest one hundred to one hundred fifty sacks per hectare but now fifty to thirty sacks per hectare …”  Benjamin V. Libertino, Poblacion 5, Midsayap, ROP.

In northwest Luzon not only are rice crops destroyed by typhoons, other crops are affected as well. Garlic is a “cash crop” in that region, much needed by the folk. Last year these brethren were victims of a “double-whammy.” First, came a typhoon which caused the planted crops to rot; the second crop was hit by drought. Brethren had borrowed from a Chinese money changer with the agreed payment of two for one. Many brethren have sold their animals to pay back their debt and that not being enough, they have been compelled to work so many days in the Chinaman’s tobacco fields (on Sundays) to clear up the debt. The last letter from brethren of the area said they had thirteen more days (Sundays) to work. Such calls to mind the hardships of Israelites in Egypt, the land of bondage.

Some crop disorders are man-made. In parts of Cotabato, southern Mindanao, the crops, homes, and church buildings of brethren have been burned by Muslim rebels, with some even being killed. When we were in Davao City last June we heard the same stories confirmed by different brethren several times. Recent letters tell of brethren from three different congregations in three different municipalities (Kabacon, Pikit, and Pagalungan) who are suffering much from the violence that often strikes their land. Forty thousand evacuees have left the region, including several brethren.

How thankful we should be that we live in a land of plenty and do not experience the terror of persecution. What compassion we ought to have for our brethren in Christ!

Brethren in each of these regions (and many more) need our help. Names and addresses of responsible brethren who will faithfully distribute relief to the needy in these congregations can be supplied to those who want to provide relief. Remember, “What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith but hath not works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food and one of you say unto him `be ye warmed and filled’; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what cloth it profit?” (Jas. 2:14-16).

Guardian of Truth XLI: 24 p. 10-11
December 18, 1997