On 23 May, Islamic extremists from the Maute group invaded the city of Marawi in the Southern Philippines. Gunshots could be heard as the group erected Islamic State (IS) flags. Over 100 people, including Christians, have been killed since the extremists entered the city. And according to some reports, as many as half the city’s 200 000 inhabitants have fled. While others in the city have been taken hostage by the extremists.

Regarding the invasion, a local source said, “Marawi is strategic. It’s central to Mindanao. If IS succeeds in making Marawi a caliphate, they can easily spread to other provinces.” Mindanao is the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines and makes up roughly a third of the whole country. And its remoteness makes it ideal for Islamic extremists to carry out their activities.

Reports continue to emerge of Christians being specifically targeted by the extremists, being forced to recite Muslim prayers, and used as human shields. But amid all this, acts of solidarity from Muslims toward Christians also seem to be abounding. Muslim residents have reportedly been giving Christians hijabs, hiding them in their homes, and teaching them Muslim prayers to safely pass check points.

Please pray for wisdom and guidance for the Philippine government as they negotiate the release of the hostages. Pray also for the Christians to remain strong in the faith and to be witnesses for Christ. May God protect the residents of Marawi and may IS not get a foothold in the country.

Thank you for your earnest prayers!