Written by: Open Doors SA
Article source: JOY! Magazine
In the Southern Philippines, children are among the most vulnerable persecuted Christians and often face terrible consequences for their family’s or their own decision to follow Jesus. Persecution impacts their access to education as well as their ability to live safely within their communities. Members of poor ethnic groups who believe in Jesus face a double vulnerability: marginalisation because of their tribe and persecution within their community because they follow Jesus.
Jenny, a 12-year-old girl, is a member of such a tribe. Living in a community of stilt houses, she belongs to one of the poorest tribes. Among the 13 Muslim tribes in her region, her tribe is one of the most discriminated against, and opportunities for education seem far beyond their reach. Jenny’s culture frequently prioritises tradition over education, leading many youngsters to follow the familiar path of marrying at an early age, often as soon as they reach puberty. Early marriage has long constrained the potential of countless young women in Jenny’s community. This is why Open Doors’ local partners started a literacy class there – to give Jenny and many others like her an alternative option and allow them the opportunity to dream.
A girl holding a drawing at the literacy class.
Discrimination at school
In school, Jenny experiences discrimination from judgemental classmates and teachers who base their opinions solely on her tribal background and her faith in Jesus. She often finds herself isolated, without many friends. “They treat me badly and stay away from me. I also hear mean words, not just about me but also about my family.” Despite enduring mean comments and judgement from her classmates and teachers, she remains determined and thirsty for knowledge. Now, in fourth grade, she has a passion for learning that burns brighter than ever.
Opportunity to dream
Thankfully, with the literacy programme, Jenny is equipped with the necessary tools to excel academically, and a powerful spark within her has been ignited – now she can dream big. “I have developed strong reading and writing skills, which enable me to thrive in my studies. I am truly thankful for the literacy class. It has helped many children and inspired us to dream big, knowing that we have Jesus by our side.” Today, Jenny stands among the top students in her class. “I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others and become a teacher. I also want to become a youth leader in our house church, like my older sister, and help others grow in their faith. When my dad comes back from fishing, we all gather as a family on Sundays for worship, which is a precious and cherished time for us. Despite our hardships, we trust that God will provide for our needs.”
Strengthening persecuted children
Thanks to the gifts and prayers of supporters, Open Doors and its local partners can continue to strengthen vulnerable children like Jenny. Through your financial gift, you can also support our persecuted family in faith. Make use of the banking details below to give a gift today.
Geopende Deure – Open Doors NPC | Nedbank | Branch: 198765 | Acc: 113 750 4552 (Business) | Ref: JE2311
Geopende Deure – Open Doors NPC | Capitec Business | Branch: 450105 | Acc: 1051150132 (Current) | Ref: JE2311
Photos: © 2023 Open Doors International
> Please support Christian media and journalism in South Africa. Help us to spread the Word of God and take a stand for the truth by making a donation to our ministry. We appreciate your support. Click here to take hands with JOY! Magazine.
Date published: 08/11/2023
Feature image: Jenny in front of a chalk board at school. Her favourite subject is mathematics.
JOY! News is a Christian news portal that shares pre-published articles by writers around the world. Each article is sourced and linked to the origin, and each article is credited with the author’s name. Although we do publish many articles that have been written in-house by JOY! journalists, we do not exclusively create our own content. Any views or opinions presented on this website are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.