MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - On this southern Philippine island, a 50-year-old female pastor was brutally murdered while ministering in her Muslim neighborhood.
*** Warning: This story contains some graphic images and is not suitable for children.***
Editha Junio is still in shock over the horrific murder of her pastor Juliet Catalan and her 10-year-old daughter.
"You cannot identify her face because it was badly hacked. She also had several hack wounds on her neck and back," Junio said. "Her 10-year-old daughter, who was watching TV, was also hacked to death, her hand cut off, and with only a piece of skin holding her head to her body."
Christians here believe Muslims attacked the mother and daughter because they don't want a church in their community.
Pastor Juliet started the house church in this predominantly Muslim area in 2000. Her other daughter, whose identity has been hidden for security reasons, said she warned her mother against building a Christian church in the Muslims' backyard.
"I told my mother that I was afraid that the Muslims will get angry," her daughter said. "Even my grandmother warned her but she would not listen. She said she was not afraid because she worked for 27 years among Muslims as a midwife and that she wants them to be saved."
"But I knew something was wrong because I went home one day and all the things inside the church were thrown out," she said.
Juliet's daughter lives in another town, but said she dreamt about her mother and sister on the night they were killed.
"I rode a tricycle and the two of them were left behind. I questioned God why He allowed it to happen, but I know there is a purpose why he allowed it to happen," she said.
"My mother has this saying hanging on the wall. God allows certain amounts of trials in our life but He promised none of it will be wasted," she said. "He will work things for good and for His glory."
"My mother was prepared and God has prepared me," she continued. "I miss them because they are all I have, but I know one day we will all be together again."
This church is now abandoned but its members continue to hold on to the faith for which Pastor Juliet died.
Members have joined other Christian fellowships, and just like the early Christians who were dispersed because of persecution, her death has allowed them to spread the word of God to other places and reach more unbelievers.
"We are inspired to continue the work that Pastor Juliet began," Junio said. "It is not only the blood of Christ but also the blood of Pastor Juliet that compels us to go and spread the good news of salvation through Christ for people to be saved, especially the Muslims."