A Changed Man, a Changed Village
Reva Lachica Moore
Dao, one of the many villages of the indigenous tribes in the mountains of Mindanao had become a Christian village. Ninety percent of the people there had been baptized into the SDA church. The Dao people have considered the SULADS, a missionary group, as the BIG LIGHT that had brightened their way of life.
Like Lapangon and other bloodthirsty tribes of the Langilan cluster, many years ago the Dao tribes also practiced witchcraft and did evil things before becoming Christians. In fact, Datu Tondo Bandalan, Dao's fiercest warrior, killed his enemies, dismembered them and scattered their body parts in the mountains. But praise God, the datu became a Christian and became a very kind man.
Today in Dao, sacred songs fill the air in the mornings as people raise their voices to worship their Creator God. At sunset you can hear heavenly music as children gather in the village church for worship.
Faustu, the present village leader, was born during the pioneering days of SULADS. He proudly says," I am a product of the SULADS* Mission School. I owe much of my being a leader now to the SULADS teachers and especially to my GOD.”
Dao is home to raw gold ore, a wealth so attractive to lowlanders to mine. Unfortunately, wealth-hungry lowlanders came often for it, offering the villagers promises of big sums of money for their land to mine. Sadly, even with reminders from the missionary teachers, natives like Faustu gave in to the lowlanders and later realized that their actions caused chaos to their village.
Bong, a lowlander, lured the villagers with a generator to provide FREE light for them. Then a big-screened TV was offered for free public viewing. The loud noise of Rock and Metal music shook the village swallowing up the sweet sacred music the people sang during worship. A billiard table and other gambling materials attracted the young teens. Then liquor made people crazy, disturbing the whole village at night.
Faustu didn’t like what was happening. He was very sorry for giving in to Bong and called his Barangay officials for a meeting. Faustu and the officials decided to do away with gambling and liquor in their village. Upon learning of their decision, Bong became furious.
"Nobody here, even you Faustu can stop me!” Bong screamed. "Look at this light I provided for your village! The people are not complaining, are they?”
That evening Bong got drank. Armed with a jungle knife he stormed Faustu's house and challenged him to come out for a duel. Faustu with his wife beside him just kept calm inside his house. The couple prayed for God to intervene so no one would get hurt. The villagers, even the tribal leaders were not able to do anything. They all just watched and waited from a distance.
Had this happened in another village of the Langilan area, the blood-thirsty Manobos would have hurled bows and arrows, bolos (large knife), and other objects to the lowlander until he was killed. But instead of fighting, the Dao people would bring their troubles to God. Bong finally left because Faustu didn’t come out to fight him. The following nights, intoxicated Bong came back challenging Faustu again and disturbing the village. He shouted insults to Faustu and called him names. But because Faustu wouldn’t fight him, Bong became more enraged. In the mean time Faustu had already filed a complaint with the police. When Bong found out about this, he stormed Faustu's home for the second time. This time armed with a bolo (big knife), Bong cut the walls of Faustu's house while the villagers watched. Still, Faustu didn’t come out. Later I learned that Faustu and his wife continued praying inside their house.
My husband and I were praying also for God's intervention to stop this trouble that’s disturbing our village. My husband is a Manobo and now a SULADS teacher. One early morning at 4:00, my father-in-law, a lay preacher, came unexpectedly to Dao. Equipped with his sound system, he went on the air that early dawn. He played sacred songs, prayed and then started preaching. He talked about forgiveness, about how God forgives and forgets the sinners who come to Him.
Faustu went to the church that early morning to listen to the message, all the while keeping a watchful eye for Bong who could show up at anytime. When suddenly he heard a familiar voice in the darkness calling his name. It was Bong and his voice was calm.
“Captain Faustu, please forgive me,” Bong said extending his hand. “ I’m so sorry for all the troubles I have caused this village. Now I beg for your forgiveness.”
Thinking it could be a trick, Faustu kept his distance. “Bong, is that you? What are you doing here in church?”
Bong’s voice was faint while he sobbed, begging Faustu for forgiveness. Faustu's heart melted and accepted Bong’s hand. Still sobbing, Bong said, “I came up here when I heard singing and then I listened to the sermon. I was amazed at how different you people are from those in other villages. Now I know why you didn’t want to fight. I discovered the secret of this Jesus who forgives even the worst of sinners like me. I want to be a part of your church, if you would accept me.”Faustu and the lay preacher prayed for Bong. During the vesper hour and the next Sabbath services, Bong and his wife came. Today Bong and his wife are receiving Bible studies and preparing for baptism.
SULADS is a group of Adventist missionaries whose goal is to reach the indigenous tribes of Mindanao, providing them with non-formal education which hopes to alleviate illiteracy, poverty, and disease, promoting social awareness, yet giving due respect to local traditions, beliefs, customs, aspirations, and interests, so that all may see the richness and beauty of their cultural heritage and way of life.