SINCE THE OUTBREAK of the never-before-seen contagious disease that, as of this writing, remains to be without a ready vaccine and cure, governments and various healthcare systems have been struggling to address the many difficult challenges in lessening the spread and severity of the Covid-19 pandemic. People’s daily lives have been disrupted not only by the disease itself but also by the economic downturn caused by imposed lockdowns to curb its spread. Many are still learning to adapt to the so-called new normal for survival.
With the staggering turn of events, many people cannot help but feel worried and anxious of any other worse thing that may happen. “Just like other companies, mine has mandated us on forced leave from work without pay,” said Brother Ramon Lamina Jr., a head deacon and Buklod district vice president, who works for an outsourcing company. “Before, I did not worry too much about my work because it was stable. But due to the pandemic, the working hours have been reduced and so have our wages,” he added. With the uncertainties from his work, Brother Ramon is also worried that their client might terminate their contract and that would greatly affect his employment.
Similarly, Brother Terrence Tuaño’s source of income has become unstable due to company protocols in coping with the pandemic. “Our projects, unlike before, have slowed down. In addition, our family-owned businesses had to close,” he disclosed. Apart from that, Brother Terrence had to accept and deal with what he and his family feared the most. “I was tested positive for Covid-19, yet with mild symptoms. As advised, I had to isolate myself at home and was quarantined for two weeks with close monitoring from health authorities.” Experience has brought Brother Terrence to the realization that “Anything can happen [beyond our] control no matter how we plan our future. That is why we should entrust everything to God.” This is why faith in God is very important.
Thankfully, on June 19, 2020, the faith of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) members, including Brother Terrence, were all the more strengthened. Via videoconferencing, their worship service to God was led by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. He reminded the brethren to cherish their membership in the Church by constantly doing good despite unpleasant experiences because God has prepared for them the Holy City where they will have eternal life.
“I firmly believe that all of these things happening around us were already forewarned by God [as taught to us] through the biblical lessons prepared by the Church Administration,” Brother Richard Novilunio, one of the head deacons, said. Even during the pandemic, his entire household never ceased to participate in the activities launched by the Church Administration. “[These] keeps us busy at home during the quarantine period, and at the same time, [they are] an opportunity to continue fulfilling God’s commandments. We enjoy participating in the various Christian Family Organization (CFO) related activities to avoid being preoccupied with the effects of the pandemic,” he added.
Despite the pandemic, faithful Church members never lose heart. They find happiness in serving God and performing their duties. “Though struggling to make both ends meet, as a servant of God, our priority is to please Him. One of which is to set aside for our voluntary offerings to help in the many endeavors of the Church,” Brother Rex Salceda, a head deacon, said. Uncertain of what tomorrow brings, he will never give up on his faith in God. “God knows everything and what is best for us. If He allows us to experience all of these sufferings, I should all the more trust His plans because He promised that He will never forsake His children as long as we stay devoted to our services to Him,” Brother Rex shared.
The Executive Minister also emphasized that while physical training is important as it helps maintain good physical health, spiritual training, that is living according to God’s will is far more vital. Not only is it beneficial in the present life, but, most importantly, in the life to come. Brother Terrence, a head deacon, recalled the overlapping trials he needed to face with steadfastness: “Instead of feeling down and losing hope for having contracted the virus and at the same time unemployed, I braved them hoping everything will be fine with God’s mercy. We continue to conduct our household devotional prayers and worship services. In these trying times, it is only God who can help us survive and be triumphant.” Brother Terrence always reminds his household of the importance of worship services to God because it is one of the ways they prove their confidence in Him.
Brother Richard agrees that holding on to faith is the way to cope with grave situations. “Though many people are frightened and heavily burdened due to the crises, we, Church members should react to the situation in a positive way,” he said. As a Church officer, he is one with the Church Administration in strengthening the faithful. “The Church Administration has always taught us the words of God during the worship services. We have all been prepared on how to deal with trials and even persecutions before this pandemic happened. With the help of the Church officers, they untiringly advise the entire Church to continue holding the Family Hour and devotional prayers,” he added.
Even though he felt anxious about his work condition due to health and safety restrictions amid the pandemic, Brother Ramon and his family diligently obey God in order to be deemed worthy of His blessings. “We were not hindered by the government-issued quarantine protocols in performing our obligations before God. Though at home, we find happiness in sharing our faith through various social media platforms. By striving to be a true Christian in the midst of this crisis, I firmly believe that God will bestow His blessings,” he said.
“Even if this pandemic crisis worsens, we will stand our ground in faithfully serving God. As what we always impart to our children, we will treasure our divine election as Church Of Christ members,” Brother Richard promised. It has been proven so many times in his life that God never forsakes his family when they are heavily burdened with problems and tribulations. “I am happy that the Lord God has never abandoned us. As His servant, I completely trust in His plans that He will not allow us to end in disaster,” he added.
Living in this world that is full of uncertainties and hardship entails sacrifices and courage to continue on. However, faithful servants of God understand that enduring and overcoming sufferings in this life is part of their journey toward attaining eternal life in heaven. That promise of God always serves as inspiration for them to remain active and faithful Church Of Christ members, no matter what happens.