MANILA, Philippines — In a statement this morning, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged Seventh-Day Adventists in his country to evangelize islands in the South China Sea. The president called the matter an item of “urgent evangelistic policy.”
Duterte has so far taken a conciliatory approach to handling the dispute his country has with China over ownership of several islands in the South China Sea. In lieu of forceful engagement he said that it “could not hurt” to start the evangelistic effort aimed at reaching any and all human occupants of the area.
Adventists, who are well-known for their evangelistic efforts, are said to be weighing the invitation carefully. As Duterte’s suggestion is fundamentally peaceful in nature, Adventists are unlikely to reject it on pacifist grounds.
Duterte said that no aggressive actions would be taken if Adventists were to engage inhabitants of the South China Sea islands and added that fluency in Mandarin was a helpful prerequisite for door-to-door visitation. He suggested Adventists pursue a “friendship evangelism” strategy.