Solidarity and Accompaniment
by Andrew Larsen, serving with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines
“Those who have worked for and journeyed with the caged birds – who have sung their songs of freedom with them, who have comforted them in their solace, who have made it their mission to work toward freedom – have been met with violence. People’s organizations, civil society groups and churches like the UCCP have all faced threats from a government that, threatened by goodwill, decided to systematically discredit decades-long involvements with the most vulnerable.” – Excerpt from ‘Cry Out! Rescue Us, O God!”
Calls of solidarity and accompaniment rang out during a recent international virtual forum in support of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). They continue to face persecution from the oppressive authoritarian practices of the military and government in the Philippines. The “Cry Out! Rescue Us, O God! International Solidarity Forum” was a chance for partners around our global community to reiterate their commitment in denouncing the red-tagging practices and violent measures levied against the UCCP and its work in communities. In laying out the terms of why we need to continue to “Cry Out!” the forum made clear that the persecution of the church is intended to stop the prophetic witness in the midst of an oppressive regime that is only strengthening and intensifying. Even while a global pandemic rages, the government passed the so-called “Anti-Terrorism Law” (2020). The terrible persistent extra judicial killings have not paused during the quarantines. Community leaders continue to fear the retribution they may face in defending human rights and upholding justice.
The crying-out comes at a crucial moment when the already underlying present issues of Filipino society are amplified by the strict measures and problems from the health crisis. Using the guise of pandemic regulations and quarantines, violence and intimidation reign supreme as the law of the land – acting as the status quo and modus operandi for the Philippine government operations.
The virtual forum was a platform for many different partners, including Global Ministries, to issue statements and amplify the voice of the UCCP and its members. Believing that God’s mission must endure in face of earthly powers that may try to restrict the building of God’s kingdom for all of creation. Turning to the Psalms as our guide, we know God puts firm footing under our feet as we march forth in proclaiming the justice and good news ensured to all. In Psalm 52:1-2, we find comfort, “Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood” – the scriptural basis for the “Cry Out!” virtual solidarity forum.
The event is one part of the ongoing commitment from the UCCP to remain resilient in the work of Jesus Christ. Hear again how the hard work carries on and is laid before us, “Continue to cry out with us; continue to plead for our guidance, enlightenment, and rescue –all so that we may keep working for God.”
Andrew Larsen serves with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.