EVERY time that I am away from the Philippines, one of my fervent prayer is “LORD, take not away the freedom you gave to our county.” It is meaningful to me because I have lived and visited several countries where freedom has more limitations than what I see in our country.
In some democratic countries, I have seen most of their people abide with the restrictions imposed by law to keep order. In my brief stay in Netherlands, simple rules like bicycles take priority when they are on the road are highly observed. I got into biking a lot of miles because there are fiets paths or bike paths. But when the rains come, I would hitch a car ride to the training center. Most of the Europeans would not understand, even when I tell them that rains to me more often to be a storm.
They have a crazy weather where there would be rain showers in the morning, spring like sunny noon day and a cold winter snow in the afternoon. It was a lot of twitching in my head to adjust. However, I enjoyed the spring when we would still be sitting outside enjoying the light until near midnight. I observed that they give out the rules or law through a process made known to all, make the necessary reasons and background and people would obey. Yet as they obey they also convince others who are resisting. I observed things were grounded on their traditions and their aspirations for their future generations.
Freedom to worship became more a reality when I joined fellow believers in their local worship in “closed to the Gospel countries.”
Some Asian countries where I lived or visited like Nepal, India, Vietnam, and Laos, the local Christian leaders made sure there are sentinels who watch if authorities will conduct a raid in our place of worship. More often than not, these are in homes that were converted as worship areas and then reverted back to its original purpose once worship is done. Though their laws allow practice of religion, their interpretation is different on how the Christian countries interpret freedom of practice of faith.
One time I brought our Baguio church team to Vietnam. Joining worship in house churches was one of their agenda. It set them into thinking and comparing the Philippines and Vietnam in terms of freedom in government and in practice of religion. Vietnam has been devastated by war, yet economic freedom has resurrected the country in just a matter of 30 years.
In these present times, the freedom of the Philippines seems to be threatened with the fear that envelopes some sectors of society. As soon as Duterte took the Presidency, fear became natural for those involved in the illegal drugs. The user becomes the culprit not the victim. The big fish was not taken as it flew before the net was drawn. Fear spread fast not only among families but those who have become unsuspecting bystanders because of the quota imposed on the armed forces to add to statistics.
But fear is now gripping government itself. We watch as various government agencies are towed in the line otherwise they suffer consequences they did not expect. There are perceptions that the opposition is slowly being wined and dined into the ruling party. We have seen some of those who were pronounced yellow, red or what not succumb to ruling party not only in the political alignment but also in the careered government agencies. Fear of the unknown but for the analyst it is clearly understood why people are fearful.
Looks like some are lost even before they are free. No freedom until Kingdom come.