AS POVERTY, CALAMITIES, violence, and diseases continue ravaging the world, more and more people are finding their lives taking a turn for the worse and could only see a bleak future.
Although members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) also face difficulties in life, yet they are no longer surprised about the harsh things happening around them. They have been taught by the Church Administration from the Holy Scriptures that such events are among the signs of the end times signifying Christ’s Second Advent is near. Having been forewarned that they will also inevitably experience trials and hardships, they uphold a very positive outlook on life, fully convinced that treating their Church membership with utmost importance is vital for them to receive God’s blessings in this life and His promised salvation on Judgment Day.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo reminded of and inspired them with these truths in his homily during the worship service he officiated at the Local Congregation of Malibay, Ecclesiastical District of Makati on August 19, 2022, which was also attended by brethren gathered in 32 remote sites linked through videoconferencing. Brother Diosdado F. Dades, the district supervising minister of Makati, and Brother Romer D. Galang, supervising minister of the Central Ecclesiastical District, led the opening and closing prayers, respectively.
Before formally beginning his sermon, the Executive Minister greeted and congratulated the 39 local congregations (22 in the Philippines and 17 abroad) in attendance that were commemorating their milestone anniversaries between August 17 and 31.
Malibay, Pasay City
Written by Rommel Patrick Lorico
Established in 1981, the Local Congregation of Malibay in Pasay City is an offspring of the Local Congregation of Evangelista, which is situated in the city of Makati. When the growing number of brethren could no longer fit in their former place of worship along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), the Church Administration approved the construction of a bigger house of worship along Apelo Cruz Street, Malibay. It was dedicated to God in December 1983 during a worship service officiated by Brother Eraño G. Manalo, the Executive Minister then. Brother Eduardo Manalo visited the local congregation in 1993, 1998, 2006, and 2008 before he became the Executive Minister.
Sister Florencia Cruz, a deaconess, was one of the worshipers who attended the holy gathering officiated by Brother Eduardo Manalo on August 19, 2022. She said, “What a great blessing it is for me and my family! I am always eager to hear God’s words taught by the Executive Minister since the time of Brother Felix Manalo until now. I thank God for utilizing Brother Eduardo Manalo to dispense the much-needed strength for our faith through his preaching. I will always be grateful.”
Now 96 years of age, she has been passing on her faith to her children and grandchildren, emboldened by her triumph over hardships and trials through the years.
Sister Aliw Cruz, the youngest child of Sister Florencia, performed with the choir during the worship service officiated by Brother Eduardo Manalo. “Since my brothers and I were young, we have always observed our mother’s enthusiasm not only in raising us but, most importantly, in serving God. We have seen how faithful she is in fulfilling her duties. She has been my role model and I do my best to imitate her,” she said.
Recalling the numerous times her mother gave advice to her, Sister Aliw related this kind of compassion to Brother Eduardo Manalo’s biblical teachings. She continued, “My mother always tells us to never forget what the Executive Minister always teaches. Whenever we are distraught or troubled, we should kneel before God and humbly pray to Him because our God is true and He is always with His chosen ones.” This advice always reminds her of how blessed she is. She firmly believes that God has always listened to her prayers.
Church Of Christ members are faithfully convinced that their membership in the Church is their greatest treasure. That is why they firmly hold on to it despite life’s difficulties.
“I learned that although the world may see us, Church Of Christ members, as insignificant and lowly, we are not such in God’s sight. This motivates me to be more dedicated to worshiping Him, be even more loyal to Him and to the Administration He placed in the Church, and give high regard to this divine election,” said Brother Jay Galvez, the head deacon, also one of the attendees.
Together with Brother Jay in the local leadership is Brother Alfred Cruz, the third head deacon, who is one of Sister Florencia’s sons. He narrated, “Brother Eduardo Manalo taught from the Bible that even though many Church members may be considered poor and unimportant by others, we are truly the blessed ones because we are God’s own special people. We are the ones who can truly rely on God, especially in times of hardship. So, no matter what situation we are in, even in poverty, illness, or sorrows, we should remain positive and always hopeful because we have God on our side.”
Edified by the spiritual blessings God bestowed during the occasion, Brother Alfred said, “The Executive Minister’s visit is such a great blessing for our family, our local congregation, and our district.” The reason, according to him, was that the words of God taught by Brother Eduardo Manalo brought zeal and inspiration as they go on with their lives despite the difficulties. He continued, “I promise to always remind the brethren about how God demonstrated His great love for us countless times. I will continue encouraging them to never neglect their duties and services to God and to remain in His love.”
Bongco, Pototan, Iloilo
Sinulat ni Airah Umadhay
Sinasampalatayanan ng mga kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo sa Lokal ng Bongco, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Iloilo South, na ang Panginoong Diyos ang Siyang tumulong at gumabay sa kanilang lokal upang masapit nito ang kaniyang ika-70 anibersaryo.
Sampung araw bago ang anibersaryo ng lokal, nagkapalad na makadalo ang mga kapatid sa lokal sa pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan, ang Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo, noong Agosto 19, 2022 sa pamamagitan ng livestreaming.
Pagkatapos na marinig ng mga kapatid ang pagtuturo at pagpapayo ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan, sinariwa nila ang mga pagsubok na kanilang matagumpay na nalampasan sa tulong at awa ng Panginoong Diyos.
“Naranasan naming mag-asawa na sa pagtupad ng aming mga tungkulin ay kinukutya at hinahamak kami ng mga taga-sanlibutan. Sinasabi nilang kami raw ay mamamalaging mahirap lang dahil malaking bahagi ng oras namin ay inilalaan namin sa paglilingkod sa Diyos,” pag-aalaala ni Kapatid na Jessie Ramirez Galea, 68 taong gulang, at isa sa mga pinakamatandang diakonesa sa lokal.
Kahit sa mga panahong nagpapasimula pa lamang ang pagpapalaganap sa dakong ito ay nakaranas na ang mga kapatid ng mga pang-uusig at panlalait. Subalit sa kabila ng mga hadlang, hindi natinag si Kapatid na Elmerio “Elmer” Cantores, pangulong diakono, na ipamahagi ang tunay na pananampalataya. Pahayag niya, “Sa paggabay ng Pamamahala, sinisikap kong pangunahan ang bawat kapatid sa aming lokal na makipagkaisa sa puspusang pagpapalaganap ng mga salita ng Diyos. Sa bawat pagkakataon, ipinapakilala namin ang Iglesia Ni Cristo at ang mga aral na ating sinasampalatayanan.”
“Mahirap man kami ay hindi namin kailanman pinabayaan ang tungkulin na ipinagkatiwala ng Diyos. Hindi namin alintana ang masasakit na salita na aming naririnig sa iba dahil hindi naman ito mahalaga. Ang mahalaga ay masunod namin kung ano ang mga kalooban ng Diyos na ipinagagawa Niya sa amin,” paninindigan ni Kapatid na Jessie.
Pinananaligan ng mga kapatid ang katotohanang binigyang-diin ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo sa kaniyang pagtuturo ng mga salita ng Diyos, na ang mga kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo ay mga espesyal na tao o pag-aari ng Diyos. Sinadya Niyang piliin ang mga mahihina o mangmang sa paningin ng sanlibutan upang lalong mahayag ang Kaniyang kadakilaan.
Kaya, hamak man sa paningin ng maraming tao, kumbinsido si Kapatid na Jessie na mahalaga siya sa Diyos dahil kabilang siya sa tunay na Iglesia. “Ang pagkatawag sa amin ng Diyos sa loob ng Iglesia ay tunay na napakadakila at hindi namin ito ipagpapalit sa anumang bagay. Dahil dito ay nagkaroon kami ng karapatan na tumawag sa Ama. Kahit mahirap lang kami sa paningin ng sanlibutan, ang buhay namin ay may kapanatagan at kapayapaan dahil kasama namin ang Diyos sa araw-araw at, higit sa lahat, kami ang may matibay na pag-asa sa kaligtasan.”
Lubos ang pasasalamat ng mga kapatid sa Panginoong Diyos dahil muli Niyang ipinaranas ang Kaniyang pag-ibig at kabutihan sa pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan kaugnay ng pagdiriwang ng milestone anniversary ng Lokal ng Bongco sa bayan ng Pototan, Iloilo. “Ang mga biyayang espirituwal na aming natanggap ay karagdagang inspirasyon at gabay namin sa pagpapatuloy pa ng aming mga paglilingkod sa Diyos at sa panibagong mga taon na ibibiyaya pa Niya sa aming lokal,” saad ni Kapatid na Elmer.