TWO DAYS SHY of a full year since the dedication of their house of worship, the members of the Local Congregation of United Bayanihan, Ecclesiastical District of Calamba City, Laguna once again had the blessed opportunity of having their worship service officiated by the Executive Minister of the Church, which brought them great spiritual graces for their further edification in the faith.
It was on June 26, 2021 when their 1,300-seater house of worship was among those dedicated to God in a worship service officiated by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, which was streamed live from the Central Temple in Quezon City, Philippines.
But on June 24, 2022, it was doubly special for the brethren from United Bayanihan as Brother Eduardo Manalo conducted a pastoral visit to personally lead them in a worship service to God in their house of worship.
Local congregations and ecclesiastical districts in different parts of the world that were commemorating their respective milestone anniversaries also attended the worship service at their respective places of worship via livestreaming.
Brother Alex D. Lubao led the opening prayer, while Brother Romer D. Galang led the prayer after the preaching of the Executive Minister. Then, 30 ministerial workers took their oath of duty as administered by Brother Bienvenido C. Santiago, after which they received the laying on of hands from the Executive Minister, conferring on each of them the office of minister of the gospel. Brother Arnel R. Canicosa led the prayer afterwards.
In his Bible-based homily, Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded the Church members that they were spiritually equipped by God with what they need to successfully stand their ground no matter what they encounter. He exhorted them to firmly hold on to their faith to be able to resist Satan’s evil designs, to their hope for salvation on which they must focus their minds, and to the words of God that serve as their weapon in fighting victoriously for their divine election. By doing so, the Executive Minister explained, they would be fully prepared in facing whatever comes their way as the day of the Lord draws nearer and receive the great reward from Him.
The following are stories of the brethren as they reflected on the words of God taught by the Executive Minister:
United Bayanihan, San Pedro City, Laguna
Written by Rizza Joy Salazar
“It is important for us to always pray, be strong in the faith, and be active in participating in all the activities in the Church. That way, we will be strong in upholding our divine election come what may in our life, especially now that the end is truly near,” said Brother Abstenencio “Jun” Matudan Jr., a head deacon in the United Bayanihan Congregation.
During the worship service, the Executive Minister emphasized that all the signs given by the Lord Jesus Christ, indicating that His return is very near, have all been fulfilled and continue to be fulfilled. Church members are constantly being prepared by the Church Administration, so that they will be certain of receiving the promised salvation. “Being Church officers and helpers to the Church Administration, it behooves us to ensure that all the brethren under our care are actively attending the worship services and completely obeying the commandments of God so that no one will be left behind on the Day of Judgment,” Brother Jun expressed.
As the end draws nearer, Church members will certainly encounter different trials in life. But as God’s children, they are unfazed by difficult situations. By means of prayer, they place their trust in God and in what He can do for them. This is what Brother Jun did when his faith was tested as his wife suffered from a stroke. He shared, “When we were in the emergency room, the doctor told me that my wife was in a comatose and that she would be lucky if she would live.” What Brother Jun did was pray for his wife and anoint her with oil, having a strong faith that God would heal her. He said, “She was already in her fourth day in a coma and the doctor said that if she would not wake up in five days, she would most likely pass away. With God’s grace, my wife woke up and was able to recover. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God. What we need is to put our trust and faith in Him.”
Brother Jun also shared what he also advises the brethren under his care regarding the hardships they encounter while performing their obligations to God. He said, “Whatever trials we may face, we must never stop performing our Church duties, never allow our faith in God to falter, and never forget to pray. Those challenging times are opportunities for us to prove our faithfulness to God.”
Written by Bryan Lugtu
Celebrating the 101st anniversary of their congregation’s establishment, the members of the Local Congregation of Arayat, Ecclesiastical District of Pampanga East were indeed blessed to be able to attend through livestreaming the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, on June 24, 2022. Moved by God’s words taught by the Executive Minister, Sister Emily Martinez, a choir leader and finance officer, shared, “What we have been taught is true. Whenever God tests our faith through trials and difficulties, He will never leave us. And He will not let us face challenges that we cannot overcome.”
“We face hardships in life. We grieve when we lose someone we love. But we have never blamed God for the misfortunes we encountered. Instead, we have always asked Him through prayers for His guidance and help,” said Sister Emily, a mother of four and a widower. She was then working as a public school teacher when her husband died in 2014. Her eldest son is already working, two of her children are in their fourth and third years in college, respectively, and the youngest will also be going to college this coming year.
During the worship service, the Executive Minister once again reminded the Church members about the importance of prayer. He admonished them to never forsake their personal devotional prayers, as well as the devotional prayers they conduct with their household.
“I have always taught my children, especially during those difficult times, to always entrust our situation to God,” Sister Emily expressed.
Even when times are difficult, Church members should not to neglect their duties to God because tests of faith are necessary for them to enter the kingdom of God in heaven and live in eternal bliss. Reminiscing the time when she accepted the duty and took oath as their local congregation’s choir leader, she shared, “It was a year after my husband died when I was entrusted with the duty as the choir leader of our local congregation. And even when we were in grief and experiencing hardships, my family and I had never forsaken our worship services and Church obligations.”
Indeed, the Almighty never leaves His faithful servants alone in times of challenges. As they entrust themselves to Him and completely obey all His commandments, they will remain standing their ground, upholding their divine election, no matter what happens. “With God’s help, my family and I were able to carry on with our daily life and, most especially, with our services to God. We have proven in our life how God has helped us overcome the obstacles we faced. We will continue fulfilling our duties and remain as members of the Church Of Christ until the end.”
San Carlos City, Negros Occidental
Written by Faith Jarhoset Alipio
Joining the Church Of Christ was the greatest turning point in Sister Rocelle Claridad’s life, especially as it happened when she needed guidance and strength in the face of uncertainties. “God’s guidance gave me direction,” she expressed, as she recalled her first moments of listening to the true words of God taught in the Church Of Christ.
“While I was in the process of examining the teachings of God in this Church, my parents tried to stop me from accepting my grandmother’s invitation to attend the worship services,” she shared. She grew up with her grandmother, Sister Vilma Claridad. But due to lack of financial support, Sister Rocelle decided to find means to finance her education on her own. She attended classes during the day and, at night, she worked part-time at a convenience store and sometimes as a nursery maid until she finished college.
Despite the hurdles, she chose to follow the true faith and eventually received baptism. “I was able to endure the many trials in my life as a young adult because my source of strength was God’s promises. Now I hold several Church duties that I ceaselessly perform and I actively participate in missionary works. Unlike before when I was not yet a member of the true Church, I now feel confident that my prayers are being heard—that I am not alone in this journey,” she said. At present, Sister Rocelle holds duties including being a choir member and Children’s Worship Service teacher in the Local Congregation of San Jose City, Ecclesiastical District of Negros del Norte.
Having heard the preaching of the Executive Minister on June 24, 2022, she said that even amid this troubled world, she will remain holding on to God’s teachings. She reflected on how she prepares herself for the Day of Judgment, based on biblical teachings. “My primary goal is to focus on God’s promise of salvation,” she said, adding, “I strive to protect my faith and live in accordance with God’s will, so I will be pleasing before Him.”
In these perilous times, especially since Judgment Day is near, Sister Rocelle imparts how she remains fully equipped to defy the enemy of the faith and his instruments: “I will continue remaining steadfast in my faith, drawing strength from performing my Church duties. Through devotional prayers, I always ask for God’s guidance to help me avoid doing evil because what matters to me most are not the things of this world, but the divine election that I constantly treasure.”
Isinulat ni Kollene Faye Lago
Hindi makapaniwala si Kapatid na Ricardo Moncada sa kaniyang narinig. Umuwi siyang baon ang isang malungkot na balita—naalis siya sa kaniyang trabaho. Nagdadalawang-isip kung ito ay sasabihin niya sa kaniyang maybahay at sa kaniyang mga anak.
“Iyon ay matinding pagsubok sa aking buhay. Natanggal ako sa aking trabaho bilang isang construction worker. Isa lamang akong kontraktuwal na empleyado kaya’t wala akong nakuha na kahit anong benepisyo,” pagsasalaysay ni Kapatid na Ricardo, na pangulong diakono sa Lokal ng Syquia sa Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Maynila. “Noong ako ay mawalan ng trabaho, nag-aaral pa ang apat kong mga anak at ang trabaho ko lamang ang pinagkukunan namin ng aming gagamitin sa araw-araw.”
Bilang isang kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo, ang lagi niyang pinagtitiwalaan ay ang Diyos na Makapangyarihan sa lahat. “Kapag bumibigat na ang pagsubok sa buhay, lalo pa akong nagtatalaga sa pagtupad ng tungkulin. Kapag dumarating sa punto na halos hindi ko na kaya, lalo pa akong nananalangin. Kasama ang aking buong sambahayan, patuloy akong tumutupad ng tungkulin at gabi-gabing nagpapanata sa Panginoong Diyos,” pahayag niya.
“Sinubukan ko ang iba’t ibang trabaho hanggang sa nagbenta ako ng mga lata, bote, at karton na pinupulot ko sa daan. Lahat ng maiisip kong mabuting mapagkakitaan ay sinubukan ko. Sariwa pa rin sa aking isipan kung paano ipinihit ng Diyos ang mga pangyayari sa aking buhay. Tunay ang Diyos. Sa panahong kinakailangan ko ng biyaya, iniaabot Niya sa akin ang Kaniyang tulong. Nananalangin ako at lagi Niya akong dinirinig,” wika niya.
Tulad ng narinig niyang itinuro ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo sa pagsambang dinaluhan niya noong Hunyo 24, 2022, tunay na mapananaligan ng mga kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo na sa pamamagitan ng pananalangin nang taimtim at walang pasubaling pagsunod ay tutulungan sila ng Panginoong Diyos. “Pauli-ulit na nagpatotoo ang Panginoong Diyos sa aking buhay. Nakapagtapos sa kolehiyo ang aking panganay, isa nang ganap na ministro ang pangalawa kong anak, nakatanggap ng gold medal sa SEA Games ang pangatlo kong anak, at nakapagtapos na sa paaralan ng nagmiministro ang aking bunso. Higit sa lahat, nananatili kaming masiglang mga maytungkulin,” pagpapatotoo ni Kapatid na Ricardo.
Bilang pangulo ng kaniyang sambahayan, patuloy niyang inihahanda ang kaniyang buong pamilya sa pagtatamo ng pangakong kaligtasan. “Bata pa lamang ang mga anak namin ay hinimok ko na silang tumanggap ng tungkulin, makipagkaisa sa Pamamahala, at dumalo sa lahat ng mga aktibidad,” pahayag niya. “Kapag dumarating naman ang pagsubok sa kanilang buhay ay pinapayuhan ko silang manalangin at humingi ng tulong sa Diyos,” dagdag pa niya.
Ang kaniyang mga karanasan ang siyang humubog sa kaniya upang maging matatag at matibay. Pahayag niya, “Wala man akong kayamanang materyal na maipamamana sa aking mga anak ngunit panatag ang aking puso sapagkat sila ay tumutupad ng kanilang mga tungkulin. Ang tanging panalangin ko na lamang ay kung papaanong sama-sama kami sa buhay na ito ay magsama-sama pa rin kami sa Bayang Banal na roon ay maninirahan sa piling ng Diyos.”
“The duty in the holy ministry that I am entrusted with is what I treasure the most. I would not exchange it with anything in this world, for I firmly believe that my salvation lies upon my duty. I fervently promise to the Lord God, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to Church Administration that I will fully devote myself, my strength, and my time to fulfilling the tasks I am entrusted with. Whatever task is given to me or wherever I may be assigned, I will perform my duty with eager intensity, for the glory of God and for the benefit of the Church.”
“It is my and my wife’s gratitude to God that my son, Brother Jeffrey, is now a minister in the Church. As parents, it is truly an honor and blessing for us because what we aspired for him to be and what he himself wished for has been fulfilled. We always pray to God that he may continue being an effective helper to the Church Administration in preaching the pristine gospel to many more people and in taking good care of the Church members entrusted under his care. We, his parents, know that time will come that he may be assigned somewhere far from us, but we know that the Almighty God, through the Church Administration, will not abandon him and his family.”
“For me to be of help to my husband, Brother Karl Kenneth, in fulfilling his duties, I will strive to do my best to support him in any way I can. I promise not to do anything that will ruin our right and privilege to be in the holy ministry. I will also strive to serve as a good example to our children, as well as to the brethren, in obeying the will of God, in living in holiness, and in submitting to the authority of the Church Administration.”