NO AMOUNT of chaos, hardship, and suffering in this world can ever deter the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) from fulfilling their divine obligations, for they have on their side the greatest ally whom they can always rely on—the Almighty God. They are assured of His blessings and protection as they persist in doing what is pleasing in His sight.
This was emphasized by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister, during his Bible-based preaching in the worship service he officiated at the house of worship of the Local Congregation of Maysan, Ecclesiastical District of CAMANAVA on June 10, 2022.
More than 700 worshipers were present at the said venue. Through livestreaming, thousands more from the 137 remote sites (90 in the Philippines and 47 abroad) witnessed the holy occasion during which, the Executive Minister greeted the local congregations and the ecclesiastical district celebrating their milestone anniversaries.
In his homily, Brother Eduardo Manalo exhorted the brethren to do their best to always please God by living accordingly to His commandments and, thus, remain in His grace and loving-kindness.
The following are some of the experiences imparted by some brethren on how God has shaped their lives for the better as they have been striving to please Him:
Maysan, Valenzuela City
By Danica Castro
In his desire to be of greater help in the work of propagation in the Local Congregation of Maysan where he is now a head deacon, Brother Nelson Palileo made a very important decision backed by devotional prayers to God. He recounted, “I was an area overseer back then. I remember that whenever we had evangelical missions, we needed more vehicles to use as transport for our guests. There was also a need for new venues for extensions and Bible studies. I prayed to God for His blessings to abound in our livelihood, so that we would always have time and resources to use in helping the Church’s activities.”
Brother Nelson then decided to leave his day job to put up his own business. He remembered the struggles that he and his wife had to face. “It took many years of hard work and patience to make the business sufficient. While we developed it, we made sure that our family is focused on fulfilling our Church duties and ensuring that we always obey God’s commands because we firmly believe that God will surely bless those who are faithful and obedient,” he narrated.
There were many instances when Brother Nelson passed up business opportunities just to give way to Church activities. He said, “I remember a time when I had to choose between a big client deal that would have ensured us great revenue and an evangelical mission that required me to travel and fetch guests. In a heartbeat, I chose the latter. Others said that I wasted my chance, but I knew there would be more to come. For me, nothing is truly wasted when I put God first.” He was overjoyed to know that many of the guests he invited decided to become Church Of Christ members.
True enough, many other doors of opportunities opened for Brother Nelson. He is now the owner of a thriving marketing business that operates in many parts of the country. He admitted, “This success came not because we are the best in doing the business. I believe that this is God’s answer to our prayers. He allowed us to have abundant material blessings so that we can use it in our services to Him. And that is what I am doing and will continue to do.”
Brother Nelson and his household, along with many other brethren, had been instrumental in sharing their faith and convincing many more people to join the Church Of Christ. This growth in Church membership in their area led to the establishment of the Local Congregation of Maysan, which sprang from the Bagbaguin Congregation in the Ecclesiastical District of CAMANAVA. He and his family considered it a great blessing that they were able to attend the dedication to God of their house of worship on June 12, 2021 and hear the preaching of the Executive Minister.
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu
By Karla Marie Ponce
The Iglesia Ni Cristo’s works of propagation have never ceased despite the challenging situations and changes brought about by the pandemic.
With her face mask on and Pasugo: God’s Message magazines in hand, 49-year-old Sister Andresa Nameño, a deaconess and a mother of eight, frequently goes around her neighborhood handing out the magazines that contain articles about the biblical teachings upheld in the Church. She also invites them to attend the evangelical missions and Bible studies to listen to the words of God. With her phone, she also sends out links of the Church’s online content found in different social media platforms.
In September 2021, Sister Andresa was able to convince more than 50 people to enlist as doctrinal instructees. She narrated, “Caring for that many people was not easy, especially during that time when my family experienced great difficulties. My two sons were laid off from work. My husband earns a modest income as a tricycle driver.”
However, because she faithfully believes that actively participating in the propagation works of the Church is pleasing to God, she did not allow adversities to hinder her. She continued, “God is always good to us and His help is always timely. We were still able to pay the bills, support our family’s needs, and perform our Church duties despite the hardship.” She expressed how timely God’s help came to them when her daughter was hired for a good paying job and her once small business of selling plants gained momentum.
On March 2022, many of the doctrinal instructees that Sister Andresa cared for were baptized into the Church Of Christ while the rest are now candidates for baptism. She shared, “I am overjoyed. My devotional prayer to God is for me to bear fruit abundantly. I prayed to be instrumental in reaching out to those whom God will call to be Church Of Christ members. He never denied my request. He answered my prayers.”
Sister Andresa is one of the brethren in the Local Congregation of Lapu-Lapu City-Motorpool who have the most number of people baptized this year. “I will not stop participating in activities in the Church, especially in sharing the true faith. We will not back down from our duties,” she affirmed.
As their local congregation celebrated their 75th anniversary, Sister Andresa’s family keeps to heart what Brother Eduardo Manalo, the Executive Minister, taught from the Bible during the livestreamed worship service. She said, “I believe that we will receive from God the good things that we ask for if we prove our obedience to His commands and do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
By Mary Rose Candare
The narrow, unfamiliar roads of the French countryside presented some risks to drive along, particularly when his destination was over nine kilometers from the center of Paris. As if being in a foreign country were not intimidating enough, Brother Arvin Candare, a deacon, had to contend with his restrictive schedule and a very slim opportunity each time he took the long drive to Saint-Denis, a community in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It was important to him to get there to attend the worship services.
Brother Arvin is based in Manama, Bahrain but was often sent to Paris for work-related trips. “When I was there the first time, we were preparing for the anniversary Thanksgiving worship service, so I had to attend the nightly devotional prayers,” Brother Arvin narrated. His colleagues were worried, wondering why he had to take the trip nightly when he was expected very early for work in the morning. He continued, “I didn’t expect them to understand, but I was firm with my decision. Honestly, I felt safe even if I was driving on unfamiliar roads because I know I was on my way to a familiar refuge—the place of worship. I just needed to persevere every day. I knew in my heart that God will protect me.” Prayer gives him peace of mind even when he is away from his family and facing tough challenges at work.
In June 2022, Brother Arvin and his family faced another tough trial. He and his household contracted Covid-19 and were placed in home quarantine. His wife and kids had the symptoms with varying degrees and the expenses for basic commodities was a real challenge. “I wasn’t worried for myself because I believed I could endure the effects of the virus. But I was worried for our third child who was just a baby,” he said. Amid this ordeal, he and his household found themselves in a blessed situation. On June 10, 2022, they were able to attend the livestreamed worship service officiated by the Executive Minister as they witnessed the occasion from their home. They all tested negative and survived Covid-19 the week after.
In the Bible-based preaching of the Executive Minister, Brother Arvin was reminded of the importance of obedience to God’s words. He said, “Our great need for God’s blessings, particularly at this present time of extraordinary trials and turbulent world events, is more urgent than ever. I firmly believe that dedicating myself to worship services and fervent prayers to God pleases Him, for it is in obedience to His commands. He promises that no matter what we may have to go through, we can rely on His unfailing love and protection for as long as we remain obedient to Him.”
Being an overseas Filipino worker for 17 years now, Brother Arvin shared how he has experienced the unfailing help of God, especially in times of crises. “I think that it’s when my back’s against the wall and when I’m in some kind of struggle, that’s when I get the opportunity to prove to God my faithfulness. When I obey His commandments, His love leads me to the right direction,” he said. Truly, God’s blessings come through faithful obedience, the kind that transforms trials into triumphs, fear into faith.
By Jennifer Ortiz
“God definitely answered my prayers. He poured His abundant blessings, even more than what I asked for. I continue to be guided by His holy words I hear through the preaching of the ministers and the advice that Church officers give me,” said Brother Ferdinand “Ferdie” Sequitin, a deacon, as he reminisced how the Almighty Father showed him His immeasurable love and mercy, especially at a time when he felt like he was just running in circles.
“I worked abroad for almost ten years. But I noticed that no matter how hard I worked, my income was never enough. One problem came after the other, and it became very hard for me to be away from my family,” Brother Ferdie narrated. Communication was difficult and that kept him from fully supervising his household. There were times when his wife longed for him to be home to help her guide their growing children, who were already in their early teens. “I used to think that if I just do my best, I alone could give my family a good life. But I was wrong. I felt I was going nowhere. So, I reflected on the way I lived and pondered on what I must change in my life. I refocused my efforts not on myself, but on serving God,” he continued.
In his devotional prayers, Brother Ferdie asked God to allow him to return home so that he could be with his family. He also vowed that from then on, he would lead his family in being all the more active in the Church. He promised to serve God by accepting a Church duty. He said, “I entrusted everything to God and I believe that He paved the way for me and my family to live a better life. I also asked for His guidance as I happily took oath as a deacon and Buklod officer.” Brother Ferdie is currently registered in the Local Congregation of EGM, Ecclesiastical District of Cavite.
A few months after, Brother Ferdie saw how their lives turned for the better. He started a small business, which eventually turned out to be a more fruitful means of living. In a year, he was able to purchase vehicles for their business and for personal use. He was also blessed to be able to purchase a house for his family, which is one of their dreams.
“I recalled what happened to me back then when I listened to the biblical preaching of our beloved Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, during the livestreamed worship service. I nodded and concurred that God will never forsake His people. Whatever challenges we face, we can surely overcome it with His help,” Brother Ferdie said. As tears ran down his cheeks, he reaffirmed how the Almighty Father blesses His servants who faithfully obey His commands.
Sinulat ni Nhea Mae Atentar
Bago pa man mabautismuhan bilang kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo si Kapatid na Brigitte Cabit, alam na niya ang mga aral na itinuturo ng Biblia. Kaya, hindi na naging mahirap sa kaniya na matutuhan at sundin ang mga ito. “Mula nang ako’y maliit pa lamang, itinuturo na sa akin ng tatay ko na Iglesia Ni Cristo ako. Natututo rin ako sa mga itinuturo sa panahon ng pagdalo ko sa Pagsamba ng Kabataan (PNK). Naituro sa akin kung gaano kahalaga ang pagtanggap ng tungkulin sa loob ng Iglesia,” sabi niya. Pebrero 2014 noong siya ay mabautismuhan. Ngunit may pagsubok agad na dumating sa buhay niya.
“Nagkasakit ako sa spine. Tinawag iyon ng mga doktor na tuberculosis sa buto. Hindi ako makalakad, tapos sobrang payat ko. Nahirapan akong igalaw ang katawan ko dahil madali akong mapagod,” paglalahad ni Kapatid na Brigitte. Halos linggu-linggo silang lumuluwas kasama ang kaniyang mga magulang upang magpagamot. “Araw-araw ay nakikisuyo kami na mapuntahan ng ministro o kaya’y diakonesa upang ipanalangin at pahiran ako ng langis na siyang itinuturo ng Biblia. Naging taimtim din ang aking pananalangin araw-araw dahil sumasampalataya ako na ang Diyos ang may kapangyarihang magpagaling sa akin,” sabi niya.
Mula nang bata, inasam na ni Kapatid na Brigitte na maging mang-aawit. Hiniling niya sa Diyos na gumaling mula sa kaniyang karamdaman upang magamit ang buhay niya sa paglilingkod sa loob ng Iglesia. “Ipinaramdam ko sa Diyos ang aking hangarin kapag nananalangin ako. Hindi ako nabigo dahil ipinaramdam din Niya sa akin ang pag-ibig Niya. Unti-unti ay naramdaman kong lumalakas at gumagaling ako. Noong dumating ang panahon na kaya ko nang maglakad, pinipilit ko na makasamba ako,” saad niya.
Sa tulong ng isang kapatid na nagmagandang-loob na maghatid-sundo kay Kapatid na Brigitte, nakadadalo siya sa pagsamba hanggang sa panahong siya ay nakakalakad na muli nang mag-isa. Ipinahayag niya, “Sumali ako sa isang choral group sa Iglesia kahit na naka-braces pa ang katawan ko. Tapos, tumanggap ako ng tungkulin bilang kalihim, bilang kagawad sa PNK, at kalaunan ay mang-aawit. Sabik na sabik akong gamitin ang lakas na ibinibigay sa akin ng Diyos para paglingkuran Siya.”
Ipinagpatuloy ni Kapatid na Brigitte ang pag-eensayo hanggang sa siya ay makatupad ng tungkulin bilang mang-aawit sa Lokal ng Kalayaan, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Sta. Cruz, Laguna. “Sumasampalataya ako na kapag sumunod lamang tayo sa Panginoong Diyos at magpakatapat sa Kaniya, ipagkakaloob Niya ang lahat ng mabuting magpapaligaya sa atin,” pahayag niya.