BIBLICAL PROPHECIES and their fulfillment attest to the divine election of the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) as the chosen people of God in these last days. They cherish and safeguard with their lives this blessing that comes with the exclusive privilege to worship God and the firm hope of salvation on Judgment Day. They are ready and willing to endure everything as they faithfully obey God’s commands until the end.
On November 6, 2021, in the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister, Church members were once again reminded that they ought to keep and hone these qualities to be able to remain firm in their divine calling as they are still journeying in this world. Through the teachings of the Bible, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo exhorted the brethren to remain alert, awake, and active in obeying completely what God wants them to do amid the difficulties they were going through. They should do so now more than ever because the end is truly near and the enemy of their faith uses different kinds of schemes to ruin their divine election.
Also, on the said occasion, 22 ministerial workers were ordained by the Executive Minister, conferring on them the office of minister of the gospel with the task of being helpers to the Church Administration in overseeing the brethren.
Ecclesiastical District of Australia West
By Keren Gutierrez
The past year has been tumultuous for Melbourne, Australia, plunging the city into over 260 days of cumulative lockdowns. For young Church members, like Brother Kiel Medenilla from the Local Congregation of Altona in the Ecclesiastical District of Australia West, this situation posed many challenges.
“During the first days of the lockdowns, it was shocking. And with my parents overseas, at first it was difficult, because my siblings are still quite young,” he relayed. Brother Kiel is a working student while acting as the guardian of his school-age siblings, as their parents reside overseas and unable to be with them in Australia due to the lockdowns. In the initial days of the lockdown, he not only struggled to find a part time role but had to restart his studies: “I was offered a position before as an aircraft mechanic. But because of the pandemic, that was put on hold indefinitely, and so now I’m studying again as an automotive mechanic. My dad’s job overseas is also in aviation, so my parents told me to be ready for my siblings and I to all fly back home in case my dad loses his job.”
Brother Kiel relays what he always does in the face of life’s challenges: “I always pray for myself and my younger siblings. I always remind them to always listen to the words of God we are taught. Stay loyal to God. Do not let ourselves be absorbed by the things of this world. Everything we have came from God. We did not obtain them on our own. Everything is from the Father.”
During these uncertainties, especially at such a young age, Brother Kiel finds strength and inspiration in his duties in the Church. He expressed his conviction: “What strengthened me more is performing my [Church] duties, such as being a Technical Support for Video streaming officer and a Children’s Worship Service officer. I find it very uplifting to be able to perform my duties because I feel closer to God.”
By Benito Carungay Jr.
“I came to Australia by myself in 1979 to seek greener pasture, just like what many people do when they move or go to other countries,” recalled Brother Wilfredo Mendoza, also known as Brother Freddie to the brethren in the Local Congregation of Carlingford, Ecclesiastical District of Australia East.
For the members of the Church Of Christ, however, although they also tend to their needs and find solutions to their own share of problems, serving God is still their priority in life. Wherever they go, they make sure that they can continue their services to Him and perform their duties in the Church. At present, Brother Freddie is a deacon and a Light Of Salvation officer.
In spite of the challenges and difficulties Church Of Christ members encounter, they persevere and carry on with their services to the Almighty God. This was what Brother Freddie and the approximately 30 members comprising the first local congregation in Australia did during their pioneering years. With the help of God, they overcame and triumphed over difficult situations normally encountered by the Church Of Christ in these last days in its nascent stage.
As the brethren in Carlingford celebrate their congregation’s 45th anniversary of establishment, Brother Freddie reaffirmed his conviction to always obey God and be submissive to the Church Administration. He expressed his conviction: “I will heed the advice of the Church Administration to endure, just like what our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles did in their services to God. Through this, I will grow even stronger in my membership and in my faith, and I can truly hope to receive the promises of our Lord God.”
By Jean Russel David
“Indeed, I was overjoyed when I entered the house of worship,” recounted Sister Elizabeth Aviles when she returned to attend the congregational worship services after many months of staying home due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
When tighter quarantine measures were placed, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo unceasingly conducted their worship services in their respective homes, proving that they will never forsake their primary duty to God. But when the government mandated to ease quarantine protocols, religious gatherings were also allowed to be held at a certain percentage of the venue’s capacity. Sister Elizabeth felt her prayers were answered. “This is what I always prayed for to our Almighty Father—that we may be able to worship Him again inside the house of worship,” she said.
However, an even more unfortunate event occurred and aggravated her ordeal when Sister Elizabeth suffered from a stroke in April 2021. Faced with health challenges, she could only entrust her very life to the Almighty Father. Armed with firm faith, the 87-year-old widow continuously received the anointing of oil for the sick, conducted by the Church officers before her scheduled visit to the hospital for check-up and treatment.
With God’s help, Sister Elizabeth has gone leaps and bounds in her recovery process—she was able to move freely, walk, and talk again. “This is because of the mercy and blessing from God,” she asserted.
No matter what happened to her, she never lost faith and trust in God. That is why, given her physical condition, Sister Elizabeth was still eager to attend the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister through videoconferencing in commemoration of the 106th anniversary of the Local Congregation of Tayuman, Ecclesiastical District of Maynila.
On November 6, dressed in her deaconess uniform, Sister Elizabeth was able to fulfill her beloved duty again. “Truly, in the worship service, we can sing with all our hearts, fervently pray to God, listen to His words, feel His presence, and He is ready to bestow upon us His spiritual blessings,” said the oldest active deaconess and finance officer in the local congregation.
Sinulat ni Felizha Mae Roxas
“Isa sa pinakamabigat na suliranin sa buhay namin ay noong gabi na unang beses naming isinugod ang aking ama sa ospital,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Emilia Delos Reyes. Nalungkot nang husto ang pamilya ni Kapatid na Emilia nang malamang may sakit sa baga ang kanilang tatay. Gayunman, ayon sa kaniya, “Ipinaubaya ko na sa Diyos ang lahat ng maaaring mangyari dahil alam ko na Siya ang nakaaalam ng makabubuti para sa aking ama.” Pinapahiran nila ng langis ang kaniyang ama dahil sumasampalataya sila na ang Diyos ang magpapagaling sa kaniya. “Hindi rin kami tumitigil sa pagpapanata,” pahayag pa ni Kapatid na Emilia.
Hindi binigo ng Panginoong Diyos ang pagsamo ng pamilya ni Kapatid na Emilia. Matapos ang tatlong linggo ay nakalabas ng ospital ang kaniyang ama. “Kahit naka-wheelchair ang aking ama noon, bisperas pa lang ng pagsamba ay ipinahahanda na niya ang kasuotan nila ng aking ina para sa pagsamba kinabukasan.”
“Na-mild stroke din ako noon,” dagdag pa ni Kapatid na Emilia. Ngunit sa kabila ng lahat ng iyon ay hindi sila tumigil sa kanilang mga pagsamba. “Akay-akay ko ang aking ina, tulak-tulak sa wheelchair ang aking ama, at sumasabay sila sa akin bago pa ang oras ng panata sa pagsamba.”
Nanindigan din si Kapatid na Emilia na magpatuloy sa pagtupad ng kaniyang tungkulin—bagay na natutuhan din niya sa kaniyang mga magulang. Ang kaniyang ama ay pangulong diakono bago namayapa at ang kaniya namang ina ay dating diakonesa, na kahit na sa katandaang gulang na ay hindi pinababayaan ang pagsamba. Sa kasalukuyan, si Kapatid na Emilia ay mang-aawit at maytungkulin sa pananalapi sa Lokal ng Frances, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Bulacan South. Ang kaniya namang kapatid ay isang ministro ng ebanghelyo.
Anuman ang mangyari, ang pag-asa at pagtitiwala ni Kapatid na Emilia at ng kaniyang sambahayan ay nasa Panginoong Diyos. “Laging laman ng aking panalangin na lagi kaming patibayin at panatilihin sa aming kahalalan. Tumatak pa lalo sa akin sa pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan na dapat tayong kumilos nang tama at naaayon sa mga kalooban ng Diyos hanggang sa pagbabalik ng Panginoong Jesucristo. Kaya, lalong hindi ako titigil sa pagtupad ng aking tungkulin hanggang sa wakas,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Emilia.
Villagarcia, Ilocos Sur
Sinulat ni Marlou Cabalbag
Likas na sa tao ang maghangad ng mabuting kapalaran. Dahilan ito kung bakit nagsisikap ang marami na makapagtapos ng pag-aaral at magkaroon ng magandang ikinabubuhay. Pinangarap din ito ni Kapatid na Romilyn Flores, isang mang-aawit sa Lokal ng Villagarcia, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Ilocos Sur. Kaya, nagpursige siya at nakatapos sa pag-aaral.
Gayunman, nangamba siya na hindi niya magamit ang kaniyang pinag-aralan at hindi siya matanggap sa trabaho dahil sa kaniyang sakit sa baga. Subalit dahil sa matibay na pag-asa sa Diyos at walang tigil na pagpapanata at pagpapahid ng langis, gumaling sa karamdaman si Kapatid na Romilyn.
Nagbukas din ang isang magandang oportunidad para sa kaniya. “Taong 2017 ay lumuwas ako ng Maynila upang makapaghanapbuhay. Sa awa ng Ama ay nagkaroon ako ng trabaho. Maayos ang kinikita, nakasasapat para makatulong sa pamilya,” wika niya.
Abala man siya sa paghahanapbuhay ay masigla pa rin siyang tumutupad bilang mang-aawit. “Nakapagdudulot ng kasiyahan sa akin ang pagtupad. Nagsisilbing kaaliwan ko ito, lalo na kung nasa gitna ako ng maraming pagsubok at kalungkutan,” pahayag niya. Ngunit, dumating ang pagkakataon na nabago ang schedule ng kaniyang trabaho kaya maaaring mahadlangan siya sa tungkulin o sa pagdalo sa pagsamba.
“Higit na pinahahalagahan ko ang makatupad ng tungkulin. Kumikita man nang maayos ay mawawala ang kapayapaan sa puso ko kung aking bibitiwan ang aking tungkulin,” ayon kay Kapatid na Romilyn. Kaya, nagpasiya siyang umuwi na lang sa kanilang probinsya at itiniwala niya ang sarili sa Diyos.
Tunay na napakabuti ng Ama. Nagkapagpatayo ng maliit na negosyo si Kapatid na Romilyn. “Sa gitna man ng pandemya, nanatiling matatag ang aming pinagkukunan ng pang-araw-araw na ikinabubuhay. Higit sa lahat ay aking patuloy na napagtatalagahan ang aking tungkulin.”
Lubos na sinasampalatayanan ni Kapatid na Romilyn ang itinuro ng Namamahala sa pagsamba na ang sikreto ng tunay na kapayapaan at pagiging kuntento ay ang lubos na pagtitiwala sa Diyos at kay Cristo. Pahayag niya: “Kuntento ako sa aking pamumuhay, taglay ang aking tunay na kayamanan—ang aking kahalalan at ang aking banal na tungkulin. Lubos kong sinasampalatayanan na walang matuwid na hindi napabuti at hindi kinakandili ng Ama.”
By Jornalyn Villasante
In the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister, one of the biblical teachings he pointed out is that God allows adversity in our lives, so that we may hold on more firmly on His promise of salvation. The family of Brother Manolito Artajo continues holding on to this teaching. “With the message of God that Brother Eduardo Manalo preached, I could still vividly remember how our faith was tested to the point that we almost lost hope, but we held on to God’s promise,” Brother Manolito recalled.
Brother Manolito is a head deacon and his wife, Sister Jade, is a deaconess in the Local Congregation of Balamban, Ecclesiastical District of Carcar City, Cebu. In 2019, their eldest son, Brother Miles Artajo, who was pursuing a program in computer engineering, was hospitalized after a few months of schooling due to severe pneumothorax disease—his lungs collapsed.
“It was too hard to see our son in such a condition, knowing that we may lose him at any time. It was a tight situation and the only strength we got was through fervent devotional prayers and strong faith in God. We also did the anointing of the sick on him, for we firmly believe that God is Almighty. One day, in the hospital, our son told us that when he got well, he would offer his life to the ministry. Of course, we were happy. That was our dream for him, and it was granted to us in a unique and unforgettable way. He recovered fast and, as parents, we were excited to support his humble journey,” Brother Manolito shared. In 2020, his son entered the ministry.
Brother Manolito added that the adversity God allowed his family to experience is an opportunity He gave them to get closer to Him and to become more faithful and hopeful of salvation. “We vow to remain faithful, steadfast, and all the more prayerful amid all the trials that will come our way, and not only should we be happy in receiving grace, but we must also be grateful to Him even in trying times,” Brother Manolito promised.
San Juan de Mata, Tarlac
Sinulat ni Maria Fe Infante
“Ang isa sa mabibigat na pagsubok na naranasan ko ay noong ako ay magkaroon ng infection sa dugo at ugat. Dahil doon ay namaga at nangitim ang buong katawan ko,” paglalarawan ni Kapatid na Risa Vidad.
Noong mga panahong iyon ay nasa mahirap na kalagayan ang buhay ng pamilya niya. Ayon sa kaniya, “Hindi sapat ang kinikita namin para sa aming pamilya, lalo na’t pitong klase ng gamot ang aking iniinom. Ang kinikita namin sa isang araw ay halos nakasasapat lamang upang makabili ng mga gamot ko sa isang araw.”
Sa kabila man ng mahirap na sitwasyon ng kaniyang pamilya, nagpatuloy pa rin sila sa pagganap ng kanilang pangunahing pananagutan sa Diyos—ang pagsamba sa Kaniya. Ayon kay Kapatid na Risa, “Hindi kami lumiban kahit na isang pagsamba dahil nagtitiwala kami sa magagawa ng Ama, na kahit napakahirap ng pagsubok na aming kinahaharap ay naninindigan kaming hindi Niya pababayaan ang Kaniyang mga tapat na lingkod.” Hindi rin itinigil ni Kapatid na Risa ang kaniyang mga paglapit sa Diyos. “Nagtakda ako ng pansariling panata, bukod sa mayroon kaming panata [ng aming] buong pamilya,” pahayag pa niya.
Dahil sa lubos na pananalig sa magagawa ng Diyos ay hindi nabigo ang pag-asa ng pamilya ni Kapatid na Risa. Pinagaling siya ng Diyos mula sa kaniyang karamdaman at naipagpatuloy niya ang pagtupad ng kaniyang tungkulin bilang isang diakonesa sa Lokal ng San Juan de Mata, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Tarlac City, Tarlac. Tunay nga na hindi man maiiwasan ng mga kaanib ng Iglesia ang makasagupa ng iba’t ibang uri ng pagsubok at suliranin, ang ganitong mga pagkakataon ay nagiging daan upang lalo silang tumatag sa pananampalataya at lubusang magtiwala sa magagawa ng Diyos.
By Ezekiel Mercado
“There was a time when we thought we would not be able to make it through the succeeding days, as we had almost used up all our capital and savings,” shared Sister Kym Salonga. Their family-owned junkshop stopped its operation for months due to the pandemic.
What all the more saddened her family was that they were all infected with the disease, which claimed the life of her grandfather. She said, “It has truly brought us extreme sadness, as we were not able to see him before he was laid to rest. But it is our firm belief that he was truly blessed, for he has held on firmly to his membership in the Church until he breathed his last. After my grandfather passed away, it was my father who was infected next. And then all of us in the family were also afflicted with the disease.”
During these times of sorrow, Sister Kym’s family firmly held on to God. She said, “We never stopped worshiping God. We never stopped praying. It was in those moments that we felt we were strengthened to be able to carry on. These challenges have made us all the more put our trust in Him, firmly believing that He will never abandon us.”
With God’s compassion, Sister Kym’s family was able to recover from the disease. And with the easing of restrictions, their business eventually reopened and was able to operate again. Sister Kym, a choir member, Children’s Worship Service officer, and KADIWA officer in the Local Congregation of Baliwag, Ecclesiastical District of Bulacan, said, “We ourselves experienced God’s unfailing love. With His grace, we were able to sustain our daily needs.”
Recalling one of God’s promises in the Bible cited by the Executive Minister during the worship service that He never forsakes His faithful people, Sister Kym expressed, “God is truly good to His children. Thanks be to Him because whenever we are in dire need, He is always there to provide us the solution.”
Templo Central, Quezon City
By April Joy Meneses
“Barely two months before my ordination, our faith was tested anew. We were at rock bottom, but our faith in God never wavered,” Brother Renan M. Armas, one of the newly ordained ministers of the Church Of Christ, narrated, teary-eyed.
On September 28, his one-year-old son, Eren Cyan was diagnosed with dengue fever. Thirteen days after, his wife, Sister Cherry Ann gave birth to a premature baby boy whose lungs are not yet fully developed and was suffering from infection. Masked with a ventilator and breathing tube, their new-born child, Rion Evans, stayed at the neonatal intensive care unit for two weeks. Brother Renan recalled, “I left Nueva Ecija for my ordination and never had the chance to see him.”
With strong faith in God Almighty, Brother Renan set a devotional prayer with his wife even though they were apart. He shared, “We, too, in the ministry are not spared from life’s trials and tribulations. However, we need to keep ourselves composed to be effective helpers to the Church Administration in strengthening our brethren. God gives us the strength and courage we need to fulfill our divine calling.”
Coping with adversities, Brother Renan and Sister Cherry Ann remain grounded and steadfast in their faith even more. They do not have even an iota of doubt in God’s promises. They firmly believe that He will never give them trials more than what they can handle.
A week before his ordination, their new born son was discharged from the hospital, healthy and no longer relies on respiratory machines. Brother Renan said, “In our most trying times, prayer has always been our hope. We knelt and begged for divine intervention, and the merciful God heard our devotional prayers and granted all our supplications.”
With profound joy and deep gratitude to God Almighty, right after his ordination on November 6, Brother Renan rushed back to his assigned district to reunite with his wife and his sons, longing to pray altogether again and thank God Almighty for all the blessings bestowed upon them. “Certainly, the genuineness of our faith was tested. Those trials that we have surpassed only made us stronger,” Brother Renan recounted.