The story that I am about to tell you happened many years ago inside a born-again Christian church in the capital city of the Philippines. This was recalled to me by a Cebuano friend who migrated to Manila together with her husband.
A young graduating student pastor who hailed from Surigao was asked to preach one Easter Sunday morning. It was part of his baptism of fire before doing fulltime as a pastor in his hometown.
The church that he was about to preach in has a bible school and satellite churches in almost major provincial cities around the country. It has high profiled members including showbiz personalities, and a number of wealthy families.
In his introduction, he told the congregation of more than one thousand that he fasted for two weeks in preparation for the scheduled preaching. Most likely for him it was a special day. He preached practically in English with a touch of Bisayan accent. The accent that virtually all people in Luzon greatly disliked. And for that reason, in about quarter of his full message, few people stood up and walked towards the door and never came back. Then a throng of people followed afterwards, and then a few more left until less than half of the original crowd before the preaching started remained.
It was indeed hard for me to believe that this type of discrimination happened inside a born-again Christian church. I thought accentual discrimination can only be found in the movies or in any places where Bisayans are around, not in a â€œholy placeâ€ such as the church. My friend cried after seeing those lost people walking out on a preacher and she literally declared to herself that she would never step on the floor of this church again.
Well, actually they were not walking out on a preacher nor his bisayan accent. It was God, and his word that they unsuspectingly insulted. I wonder what happened to those people now. They deliberately missed a blessing from God.
I will talk about the root of discrimination in the future.