PHILIPPINES-- The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is appealing to the Philippines government for the immediate release of three of its missionaries; one of them is from Brunswick, Ohio.
UMC says the three young adults have been prevented from leaving, saying they "face differing situations with the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, and our prayer is that all three be granted permission to leave the country immediately."
Northeast Ohio's Adam Shaw, 29, has been a Global Ministries’ missionary in Mindanao since 2016 with Save Our Schools, an education network for indigenous children, and previously served in the region as a mission intern, according to UMC. He has been informed that an order to leave is imminent but it has not been served.
Tawanda Chandiwana, a citizen of Zimbabwe is also detained. UMC says he was initially charged with overstaying his missionary visa, although he was attempting to change his status to a tourist visa since he was nearing the end of his mission service in the Philippines; the charge was expanded when his name was found on a “watchlist” of alleged subversives. According to UMC, he denies any wrongdoing and faults a delay in filing visa paperwork.
Miracle Osman, a citizen of Malawi, was in the process of renewing her missionary visa when her passport was confiscated by government officials.
The United Methodist Church says all three missionaries took part in an international fact-finding investigation of human rights concerns.
"We are convinced that our missionaries pose no threat to the peace and tranquility of the Philippines. Our request is that Chandiwana be released from detention, granted an exit visa, and be allowed to leave the country as expeditiously as possible. We ask that Osman’s passport be returned and she be granted an exit visa, and that Shaw be allowed to depart safely," UMC said in a statement.
*CLICK HERE for a petition for the missionaries.