Last week I was in Mindanao, Philippines and landing at Davao airport where my father was killed. Today is March, 4 and the 9th anniversary of my father’s murder. Our flight was two hours delayed so we were landing at nearly midnight. It is impossible to not think about my Dad when I fly to the Philippines. The night before I flew to the Philippines I had a dream. In my dream I saw our plane coming in for a landing and as the plane approached the runway the runway lights went off. The pilot made an emergency abort. In my dream I was perplexed as to what the pilot could do to make a safe landing. . . I envisioned emergency vehicles lining the runway shining all the lights they could to allow the plane to land.
On our late night flight from Manila to Davao City I prayed nearly the whole hour and a half flight. I prayed that the pilots would be calm and alert. It was unusually bad weather for this time of year causing a lot of turbulence. As we descended into Davao the weather cleared, but I kept praying. Closer and closer to the ground we came. Many people were asleep in the plane since it was so late at night.
Suddenly as we were only seconds away from touching down, the pilot engaged the power pressing everyone back into the seats. Some were panicked, but many just jolted from their sleep and didn’t know was happening. The nose pointed up and we got altitude. I could see the airport passing under us. He just buzzed the airport and aborted the landing. A few minutes later the pilot calmly assured us that all would be fine, but they had to abort the landing due to no visibility; the runway lights had gone off. He said that in another 15 minutes we would be attempting another landing. 15 minutes later we were on the ground. As we started to get our baggage, the lights at the airport went off again. Mindanao Island is suffering with a chronic lack of electrical power.
Having a mini-emergency at the airport where my father was killed in a terrorist bombing affects our family beyond normal. Every time I visit the Philippines for training pastors I think of that day when I got the news that my father was in a bombing. I think every day of my responsibility and calling to avenge his death, but to do so with love not hate like those who killed him. Jesus is the only thing that is going to heal the war-torn island of Mindanao and I keep going back to help spread as much love as possible.
In the last 6 years since I have started traveling regularly to Mindanao for training leaders we have trained thousands across the island. Every time, without exception, I am visiting there are massacres, bombings and killings. This time 6 people, including 3 children, were gunned down near a Muslim area in the north-west causing red-alert warnings for Mindanao Island. Each year hundreds are killed and few if ever are held accountable for the murders. My father is no exception. Even though the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) claimed responsibility right after the bombing no one has ever been arrested. In fact, the government gives more and more concessions to the Muslims represented by MILF after each terrorist attack. I don’t see it possible that there will be justice on this earth, but I know that those terrorists will not get away under the justice of Almighty God.
As a direct result of my father’s murder, I continue to go to the Philippines to the very place where he was killed. Last week, under my Bible School “Antioch Institute” we graduated nearly 100 pastors who were equipped for more effective ministry and evangelism in Mindanao. Each year, the students we train plant hundreds of churches on Mindanao island.
The governments of this world do not know how to deal with Islamic terrorists. Justice is rare. Random murders of civilians by the Muslims is now common place. It’s so common that only major bombings and killing even make the news. While the Philippine government gives away concession after concession to the terrorists, and bombings and murder continues, there really is no hope for peace in Mindanao. Equally, there is no chance of justice. So, for me, I continue to wage my war, a war of love. I have hope that the love of God will avenge the death of my father and bring justice to our family and the victims on Mindanao island.