Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing
Gonzalo a profile in courage
Nickarter “Boy” Gonzalo, 54, was shot dead by an unknown assailant yesterday (September 14) in the Philippines. He was one of the bravest, and most remarkable, men I have met in MAI training ministry.
Boy lived in Basilan, a conflicted island in the southern Philippines’ Mindanao region. When he attended our LittWorld conferences in the Philippines in 2002 and 2004 (at right in LittWorld photo below), Boy sensed some participants eyeing him a little carefully—given that Basilan was a hotbed for Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels.
Boy could understand the uncertain reaction, but he also tried to correct the false impressions of his beloved island.
“Notwithstanding the prevalence of terrorism and violence, many evangelical Christians in my land remain steadfast and hopeful,” he said then. “It is in the face of adversity that our faith in God is truly reinforced, don’t you think? As I always say, security is found in our nearness to God and not our distance from danger.”
Despite the dangers of religious extremism and corruption in Basilan, Boy wrote and spoke openly about his Christian faith and stood strong for truth and Christian principles. And now, tragically, he is gone.
MAI-Asia Trustee Josil Gonzales, an Open Doors staff member and Boy’s good friend, wrote that Boy yesterday “was about to move his motorcycle inside his house when he was shot three times in the back.” Earlier in the day Boy had reported to police that someone was suspiciously following him.
At this writing, police had no leads on those responsible for Boy’s murder. A friend suspected that Boy’s statements about a corrupt local politician may have had something to do with it.
A well-known peace advocate and respected Christian leader in Basilan, Boy in the late 1990s coordinated Open Doors’ first-ever Institute of Ministry to All Muslims (IMAM) held in Isabela City. Last December he helped coordinate an Open Doors’ peace advocacy workshop to coincide with the yearly celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace.
“Pray for Boy’s wife, Helen, and their three children: Winston, 23; Lenie Ann, 22; and Casey, 21,” Josil requests.
After his participation in LittWorld 2002, Boy enthusiastically returned to Basilan with the goal of organizing a local Christian writers club. “There will be stories to tell…good stories. And writing will be the beacon of that truth. In the midst of the crucible, there are Christians in Basilan who stand faithful to the God of the Bible even when confronted by perils.”
It’s one thing to talk about Christian writing and publishing in a hard, violent context, and another thing to actually do it. Boy did it. His example of courage and faith will continue to inspire us.
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