ALTHOUGH MEMBERS of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), as anyone else in this troublous world, also go through adversities in life, they do not allow themselves to despair and lose heart. Thanks be to God, they are constantly guided by the Administration He placed in the Church on how they can carry on with their service of the Lord and uphold their Church membership. Especially during worship services, they are being taught the words of God that serve as guiding light as they journey through this difficult world for them to attain salvation in the end.
On January 9, 2021, the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, officiated at a worship service at the Central Temple in Quezon City, Philippines, which was streamed live to local congregations and a Group Worship Service (GWS) that commemorated their respective milestone anniversaries this month. In the worship service, the Executive Minister taught, through the Bible, that with firm and steadfast faith, members of the Church will be able to endure triumphantly over life’s tests and difficulties, more so to attain the everlasting peace that God has promised them.
Solemnly reflecting on biblical lesson, brethren from the celebrating congregations shared their memorable experiences of how, through God’s help and mercy, they were able to bear grueling trials in life as they fulfill the sacred duties He gifted them.
La Paz, Capas, Tarlac
Written by Argel Mañebog
SINCE SHE WAS YOUNG, Sister Judith Bisda has held an office in the Church. She recalled, “I was eight years old when I started as a choir member in the Children’s Worship Service (CWS). Later on, when I was baptized, I became a CWS officer. And in my college years, I became a CWS president.” When she got married, Sister Judith became a deaconess in the Local Congregation of La Paz, Ecclesiastical District of Capas, Tarlac.
Having understood the importance of performing her Church duties, Sister Judith has continued to fulfill them despite what she has gone through. Sharing what she recently experienced, she said, “It was last December when my father just noticed and told me that my complexion seemed different. He advised me to have a checkup.” Blood samples were taken from her and when the results came out, she said, “It was found out that my hemoglobin level had become significantly low, that I needed to be admitted and undergo blood transfusion.”
Her condition made her feel tired and weak most of the time and she needed to undergo the treatment immediately. However, she said, “I decided to postpone being admitted to the hospital because that time was our preparation for the Holy Supper, which we long-awaited because of the pandemic.” For her, she added, “If we put first in our life the things for God, He will make a way for us.”
She also saw how her children worried because of her condition. “It was painful for me to see them worry,” she said. But what she made her children understand is to trust in what God can do for them. “I told them that whenever they get sick, they should always pray to God first and be anointed with oil, as what we did. Then God will do the rest,” she said.
With firm faith, Sister Judith was able to fulfill her duty at the Holy Supper. After that, she underwent the necessary procedures for her treatment and eventually recovered. She said, “In accordance to what our Executive Minister preached, we should have steadfast faith. We should calm ourselves by putting all our trust in God, and that is what I said to myself. He will surely work for our good and He will not forsake us whatever trials may come into our life.”
Written by Melqui Reyes
“BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, the amount we earned as market vendors were sufficient for our family [’s needs]. But when the pandemic came and restrictions were set and implemented by the local government, what we were earning has truly lessened. We were saddened because it is our only source of living and it is what we use for our daily needs and, most of all, to continue fulfilling our duties to God,” Brother Edwin Baquiran shared. Indeed, the ongoing pandemic has affected the lives of many people around the world in many ways.
Church Of Christ members, however, have the hope of being able to surmount life’s problems. “If many people of this world lose hope because they do not know who to lean on and turn to when problems come, we, Church Of Christ members are different. The Church Administration constantly teaches us through the words of God that we have the hope of receiving God’s promised help to be able to endure trials and, above all, receive the eternal life in the Holy City,” Brother Edwin expressed.
Looking up to God and His power, Brother Edwin and his family did not lose hope. Instead, they entrusted their lives to God through prayers. He said, “What I and my family did was continue conducting our devotional prayers. We knelt down every night when we prayed, asking for God’s help, for we firmly believe that it is only He Who can truly help the ones in need.”
Moreover, Brother Edwin and his family did not forsake their duties to God. He said, “Despite the difficulties, we never faltered in performing our obligations in the Church. We know that it will make us all the more worthy of receiving God’s promises.” He is currently a deacon and the Light of Salvation overseer in the Local Congregation of Palangue, Ecclesiastical District of Cavite.
Although what they have been earning since the onset of lockdowns due to the pandemic are far from what they were earning before, Brother Edwin and his family are able to carry on. “God is truly good to His people. We are able to sustain our daily needs, as well as our children’s studies. Our son is now a ministerial student and our daughter has finished college. She is currently in Japan, for a month now, to pursue a much higher education and work at the same time,” Brother Edwin said.
God, indeed, does not let His people down seeing how devoted they are in performing their sacred obligations and confidently trusting in Him. He certainly gives them the strength they need for them to be able to endure what they are going through in life.
San Isidro, Carcar City, Cebu
Written by Esperlinda Balata
CHILDREN ARE A blessing and a source of joy for parents. Wanting what is best for them, their parents strive to provide them with everything they need, doing all their best for their children’s welfare.
Concerned with her son’s health, Sister Ma. Fe Intong said, “Since my son was three months old, his fever had always been on and off. The doctor diagnosed him with typhoid fever.” Since then, her son has become sickly. However, that did not weaken Sister Ma. Fe’s and her husband’s faith in God. Firmly entrusting their child’s health to the Father Almighty, she said, “Before going to the hospital for the checkups, my husband and I would first have our son be prayed for and anointed with oil.”
When their son was three years old, there was a time when Sister Ma. Fe and her husband were awakened in their sleep. “It was two o’clock in the morning. We suddenly noticed something wrong with our son. He had difficulty in breathing, so he was rushed to the hospital,” Sister Ma. Fe said.
They knew that their son’s life was in danger, but they did not lose hope. Instead, they continued to trust in what God can do for their son. “We did not stop praying to God for Him to save our son,” she said. And with God’s grace, their son was able to survive.
Truly, God heeds the prayers of His faithful servants who entrust themselves to Him even in unfavorable situations. Church members who actively perform their duties unto Him will certainly receive His promised help whenever they call upon Him in times of need. Sister Ma. Fe, who is an organist in the Local Congregation of San Isidro, Ecclesiastical District of Carcar City, Cebu, promised, “As long as we live, my family and I will remain strong in our Church membership. We will never abandon our duties. Our faith and trust in God will never weaken no matter what happens.”
Nagrumbuan, Isabela East
Written by Marvin Villaquidan
RECALLING HOW her journey to becoming a Church Of Christ member began, Sister Myrna Carbonel narrated, “I admit that, at first, I thought that it was just a burden and a waste of time. Whenever I was invited, I would make all sorts of excuses just to make the Church members leave me, as I was busy.” However, after a few months of avoidance, she finally accepted the invitation of the brethren because of their persistence. Upon examining the Church’s teachings, she came to the realization that this is the only true Church. She said, “All my doubts, questions, and hesitations were gone because the lessons and doctrines presented were all based on the Bible.”
Eventually receiving the holy baptism, she embraced her Church membership and accepted a duty in the Church. At present, Sister Myrna is a deaconess in the Local Congregation of Nagrumbuan, Ecclesiastical District of Isabela East.
Because it is a Church member’s duty to share the true faith, she actively helps in the work of propagation. She has faced many challenges in fulfilling this. She said, “I had experienced being thrown with stones at, while I was persuading people to listen to the doctrines we believe in. There were also times that the place of missionary activities we were in were stoned while the evangelical missions and Bible studies on doctrines were ongoing.” She was also persecuted by her family, especially when she would invite them to join the Church. She said, “My loved ones were initially against my becoming a member of the Church. There were times when they would mock me, as they were devoted Catholics.”
But with perseverance and through her devotional prayers, she was able to convince people to join the Church. “With God’s help, I was able to bear fruits—including my father, my siblings, as well as my in-laws and other relatives. They are now active members of the Church. We need to trust in God and never give up in fulfilling our duty of propagating His words.”
Rosario Heights, Lanao
Written by Wilmie Villena
“I WAS WORKING in Marawi City when the siege broke out. Our employer told us to remain inside because the militants are already outside our work area. Gun fires were so near. Loud explosions were so terrifying,” Brother Mark Quinain recalled.
Brother Mark was narrating his experience during the five-month-long armed conflict between the Philippine armed forces and militant groups in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur in 2017. The cost of the “Battle of Marawi” was truly huge. The destruction of the infrastructures flattened the entire city and left it devastated. A lot of people were injured and lives were lost. Many were left homeless.
Despite the situation he was in at that time, he did not lose hope and entrusted his life to God. He said, “While in hiding, I knelt and sincerely prayed to God to keep me safe. I fervently prayed for His protection. I took refuge in Him.”
It took five days before Brother Mark was rescued and evacuated to safety, but he was unharmed. Confidently believing that it was God Who kept him safe, Brother Mark expressed, “That terrifying incident in my life is a manifestation that God hears the call of His faithful servants.”
Brother Mark continues to fulfill his duty as the chairperson of the Social Development and Services committee of the KADIWA organization in the Local Congregation of Rosario Heights, Ecclesiastical District of Lanao.
Forever thankful for God’s unfailing protection and care, Brother Mark promised, “I will always fulfill my duty in the Church and safeguard my divine election.”
Hobart GWS, Australia West
Written by Mikaela Buenagua
A 2016 CENSUS shows that about 40% of the people in Greater Hobart in the island of Tasmania do not have any religious affiliations (quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au). “People here are not that religious. There are times that when we invite people, it is difficult to get them to come to religious gatherings and listen to God’s words,” said Sister Cresenciana Connolly, a finance officer in Hobart GWS, Ecclesiastical District of Australia West.
Sister Cresenciana, fondly called Sister Chresing, is one of the pioneering members of the Hobart GWS. Despite the fact that many people in their area are not interested in religion, Sister Chresing did not allow herself and her family to be swayed away from the truth by the wrong notion that many people believe in—to prioritize the things that are of this world only. She said, “With God’s grace, we are able to uphold God’s teachings which keeps our faith strong.”
To be able to remain fulfilling what God seeks from His chosen servants, Church members are always reminded with the words of God, primarily during the worship service. That is why Sister Chresing gives utmost importance to these sacred gatherings above anything else. She said, “The worship services that we hold are very important. God’s words that we receive during our worship services strengthen our resolve to prioritize and never neglect our duties to Him and to continue fulfilling His will.”
Church Of Christ members may be surrounded by people who are preoccupied with the things in this life only, but true and faithful Church members will always remain devoted to giving utmost importance to what matters the most—their services to God. “I promise the Almighty God that I will continue to uphold my duties and always obey His teachings, happen what may in my life,” Sister Chresing said. Firmly believing that her salvation truly lies on her divine calling and not on the things of this world, she further stated, “If we remain within the true Church and always uphold the commandments of God, we will receive the eternal reward when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.”
Diego Garcia, Malaysia
Written by Karizza Nyzelle Quiroz
WORKING AWAY from one’s family is never easy. A father who works in a foreign land, like Brother Mayorico Pascua, “Rick” for short, endures a lot for his family’s sake. However, as a Church Of Christ member, not only does Brother Rick make sure to provide for the needs of his family, but above all, he makes sure that they do not forsake their Church membership. He said, “I always find time to communicate with them daily to ensure that they are attending the worship services to God and are active Iglesia Ni Cristo members.” At present, Brother Rick is the choir leader and a finance officer in the Local Congregation of Diego Garcia, Ecclesiastical District of Malaysia.
He works at the Diego Garcia US Navy Base Support Facility. His working away from his homeland at first was not always smooth sailing. He shared, “I was served a notice of termination of my employment contract because of reduction in force.” But as a Church member who firmly believes that God always provides solutions for the problems of His faithful servants, Brother Rick entrusted everything to the Father in heaven. When he learned that he was about to be terminated from work, he said, “I went to the house of worship and prayed to the Lord God and asked Him to help me overcome uncertainties.”
The morning when he was about to leave the island, instead of preparing to go back to his home country, he was able to continue working. Brother Rick shared, “My prayer was immediately answered by the Almighty God. He truly showed the work of His mighty hands in providing blessings to His people.” He added, “I was hired by another department. From there, with the help of the Lord God, I was blessed to continue sustaining the needs of my loved ones.”
Having experienced God’s loving-kindness, Brother Rick promised with conviction, “I will always worship the Lord God with solemnity and thankfulness and will never slide back in serving Him.”