Pastoral Visit of the Executive Minister: Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas, Philippines
April 26, 2019
By Jeanie Lubis and Maria Cristina Leyesa
Mataas na Kahoy is one of the municipalities in Batangas, Philippines. Its name, a Filipino phrase, means “high or tall wood.” In this place, which literally is teeming with tall trees, the preaching of God’s words began in 1937. Eventually, the Local Congregation of Mataas na Kahoy was established on November 30, 1938; it commemorated its 80th anniversary last year. Through the years, the Church members in the congregation have remained loyal and faithful to God.
“I have witnessed loyal servants of God before who really risked their lives during the Japanese occupation to attend worship services,” Sister Eusebia Lubis said. At 97 years old, she is the local congregation’s oldest member. According to her, going out to attend evangelical missions and worship services back then posed a great risk to their lives since the Japanese army prohibited meetings and gatherings and those caught violating were severely punished.
“The protection we carried with us every time was our faith in what God could do for us,” Sister Eusebia added.
Sister Nectale Velasquez, a 76 year-old deaconess, recounted the ordeal she faced in recent years: “I could still recall what happened to my husband in March 2017 when he was hit by a jeepney that sped away afterwards.”
Despite losing her husband, Sister Nectale never abandoned what she had promised to God. It was her loyalty to God and to her duty that made her continue to fulfill His commandments.
“During those hard times, I always prayed to God to give me more strength,” she added.
Sister Hosanna dela Peña has proven several times in her life that God is true to His promises if His servants are loyal in serving Him. She was 35 years old when her husband died due to heart failure. As she raised her five children, what she earned then was barely enough for their everyday needs. Sister Hosanna recalled: “A few months after the death of my husband, I was diagnosed with an enlarged heart.”
She did not want to get sick because of her children. But, she said, “I entrusted everything to God. I still continued fulfilling my duties as a deaconess and taught my children the right path of serving our Almighty God.”
She also continued her devotional prayers and after three months, her medical check-up showed that her heart was already normal and healthy.
The Bible teaches that God’s true servants are loyal and faithful to Him. This was what the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, emphasized when he led the worship service on April 26, 2019 in the Local Congregation of Mataas na Kahoy, Ecclesiastical District of Batangas North. On this sacred occasion, 20 regular ministerial workers were ordained as new ministers in the Church.
In his homily, Brother Eduardo Manalo pointed out that true servants of God should firmly believe that He plans what is best for their lives and, for them to be rewarded, they must remain loyal and faithful to Him. The Executive Minister also taught that in fulfilling their duties, God’s servants should neither compromise their divine election nor exchange it for any worldly riches.
This principle has always guided and inspired Sister Gemalyn Villegas, a Children’s Worship Service (CWS) teacher and choir member, to carry on with her duties. “I am a public school teacher assigned to a remote area where there was no congregation yet and it was far from our local congregation. There was never a time that I thought of leaving my divine duties despite the fact that I had to travel far everyday to fulfill my obligations to God,” she said.
Most of Sister Gemalyn’s colleagues do not understand why she values her membership in the Church Of Christ so much. She draws inspiration to continue her devotion to serving God from the lessons taught by the Church Administration, especially during the worship services: “I thank God because He continues to use the Church Administration in teaching us how we should remain strong in our faith.”
A member of the Church for five years now and a finance officer, Brother Aldrin Altiz has proven to himself that if it is God’s will, anyone can be called into the Church Of Christ. “It was my father who was first invited and, later on, he converted to the Iglesia Ni Cristo. I am very thankful to God that He also called me into His fold. I then encouraged my mother as well as my brother, sister, and sister-in-law to listen to the teachings taught in the Church Of Christ,” he declared.
Most of Brother Aldrin’s family members have already been baptized in the Church Of Christ. All of them now constantly pray to God that soon it will be his mother’s time to open her heart and mind to the teachings of God.
Parents in the Church Of Christ make sure that their children remain loyal and faithful to God because they firmly believe that by being so, God’s good plans will also be fulfilled in them—thus, giving them the best future they can have. Brother Alberto Mendoza, a head deacon, wholeheartedly promises to God: “I will continue to raise my children to be God-fearing so that they will obey His commandments with utmost loyalty until the very end, no matter what happens.”