Dear Prayer Partners,
Greetings in the Wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ
We have been living in Cebu city for many years now. During the early part of our ministry the focus was on the Badjao people which are a Muslim animist group of people. Our focus recently has been on the Cebuano people that lives in the southwestern part of Cebu province, of whom 99% are strong Roman Catholics. The main saint they worship in Cebu is Santo Niño or baby Jesus. They believe that this statue answer prayers and work miracles. Every Friday is dedicated for the worship of Santo Niño and the Santo Niño Church and many thousands will gather during the day to worship this idol. Every year, the 3rd week in January they have a feast in honor of Santo Niño with the main focus on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday they have the religious procession where they bring the main image from the Santo Niño church and they pull it on a decorated wagon through the streets of Cebu. Most of the people who join this procession will also bring there own Santo Niño. This year about 1 million people joined the 6km procession.
On Sunday more than half of the city are closed to normal traffic for the Santo Niño parade and mardigras. They have groups from all over the Philippines that join the competition with elaborate costumes and then they perform a dance in honor of Santo Niño through the streets. The dance is basically two steps forward and one step back ward.
It is a big party and people splash water or water paint on any one. Night time is just an orgy with parties in the streets, drunkards etc. You might get sprayed with beer at night. They estimated more than 3 million people were watch the parades from the streets this year.
Why do I write so much about it? Because this religious spirit of Santa Niño has very strong hold on the people. I remember years ago when I shared the gospel with someone he told me that he can not have a relationship with Jesus because of his relationship with Santo Niño. Both last year and this year we have lost several people at our church after the Sinulog or Santa Niño Festival. After the main festival in Cebu city they have smaller festivals for Santa Niño in different villages through out the country side. In our church, the high school student are pressured to join the parade by there teachers. The parents and friends also put great pressure on them and that is very difficult for the new Christians. We need you to pray with us against the religious spirit of Santo Niño. We also need you to pray for the young Christians that God will strengthen them against the temptations and the pressure from relatives and others.
1. Pray for the church members to be strengthened in their faith.
2. We need a local assistant pastor. Pray with us for a assistant pastor.
3. Pray with us for favor in the community so that we can have more Bible Studies.
Petrus and Chunghee Vercueil