In the name of Christ, Operation Blessing (OB) staff members in the Philippines are reaching out to the families of the victims of the Balobo beheadings. Jun Mercado and Dr. John Tabije recently went on a follow-up visit to Basilan where most of the victims are residing. About two years ago, the Abu Sayyaf reportedly beheaded 10 men from the village of Balobo, located about three kilometers from Lamitan town proper in Basilan.
Jun Mercado and Dr. John Tabije visited the family of Ediborah Yap—an Abu Sayyaf hostage killed during the terrorist group's encounter with the military. The family was attacked by the terrorists who stole their business and homes. They wanted to provide physical help as well as spiritual comfort for the family who might be suffering from the incident. Their hearts are close to recovery but the fear of the terrorists are not yet fully erased.
In the mixture of excitement and worry, Jun Mercado recalled the visit, “I prayed and thought of words of hope and encouragement to speak to these traumatized families, but I couldn't organize my thoughts,” He, too, had been a victim of a tragedy when he lost his wife to a group of holduppers in downtown Manila several years ago.
Sadly these families have no place to go. They are hesitant of moving to a new place because of their children who might be experience difficulty adapting to the new environment.
Dr. Tabije noted that the people needed more than the financial assistance they are currently receiving from the government. They definitely need more concrete military protection, spiritual support from a local church, healthcare assistance and livelihood training.
When it was about time to distribute the rice and groceries to the families, God finally reminded Jun Mercado about what to say.
He said, “God made me remember what He did for me when I was victimized and traumatized some years ago. I opened my mouth and spoke about the love of God, His grace and power that can carry each one through any situation. That there is hope and all we have to do is ask Him in prayer and He is faithful to respond.”
Their heats were touched by the God’s Word and His work shown through the OB team – may be even more that the food and other emergency items they received.
Dr. Tabije felt stronger desire to help the family when he met Ediborah Yap’s mother and the 10-year-old youngest son. Dr. Tabije said, “Personally, I really look forward to meeting all of the children of Ediborah Yap. I want to spend at least one day with them. I want to minister to them…talk to them about life, about God! Eat at Jollibee and watch a funny movie with them.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
– 1 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4