Even before we call on Him,
God answers

Even before we call on Him, God answers

Commemoration of milestone anniversaries
Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines
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The house of worship of the Local Congregation of Malolos, in the Ecclesiastical District of Bulacan West, was filled with fervent prayers and heartfelt hymn-singing midday of October 14, 2023 in anticipation of the biblical preaching of Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s Executive Minister. The brethren from this congregation yearned for this occasion because they firmly believe that Brother Eduardo Manalo brings with him abundant spiritual blessings. Linked to this momentous occasion through livestreaming were the local congregations and ecclesiastical districts celebrating their respective milestone anniversaries. In his homily, the Executive Minister imparted a powerful message of faith, resilience, and unwavering trust in God.

Before the Executive Minister’s homily, Brother Librado V. Santos led the opening prayer. In his sermon, Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded the Church members that in a world often rife with turmoil and challenges, the hardships that surround them should not surprise or unduly alarm them. They should realize that they will not be exempted from troubles, and the adversity that they experience is not a deviation from the norm but rather an integral part of developing their being and their faith.

The truth is, even God’s servants in the past, the members of the Church Of Christ in the first century, faced their share of trials and tribulations. The Executive Minister pointed out the response of God’s faithful servants to the challenges they encountered—they have consistently placed their trust and hope in God. Their unshakable faith in the face of adversity should serve as perfect example for Church members at present to imitate. Even when it seemed that God’s intervention might take time, they waited with confident expectation, knowing that God’s plans are always perfect.

The unswerving dedication of God’s servants before was manifest as they continued to worship and pray to Him, even during dire moments of their lives. They steadfastly adhered to their faith, never engaging in actions that would displease God. The result? God answered their call. He rescued them even before they uttered their pleas, for God’s love and compassion are boundless.

After the lecture, Brother Romer D. Galang led the closing prayer. Brother Ernesto V. Suratos prayed for the offerings, while Brother Angelo Eraño V. Manalo said the benediction.

Brother Eduardo Manalo’s significant message in this pastoral visitation left the attendees of the worship service with a profound sense of purpose and conviction. Their unwavering trust in God, fortified by His promises, will continue to be the driving force that guides them through the trials of life. For as history has demonstrated—as shared here by some Church members—when God’s people call out to Him—nay, even before they call out to Him, He is always ready to rescue them.

God will always protect us from harm
Malolos, Bulacan
By Crisanto de Leon

There are incidents in people’s lives that they do not readily understand why they occur. Amid such truth, it is truly beneficial to correctly grasp the meaning of such happenings. Such is what members of the Church Of Christ learned. They are not overwhelmed by trials as they were also taught to entirely entrust their lives and welfare to the Lord God.

Upon receiving news of the Executive Minister’s impending visit, the brethren in Malolos were filled with immense excitement. The brethren saw this as a great blessing and opportunity for their local congregation, knowing the spiritual graces that Brother Eduardo Manalo imparts. They were overjoyed to learn that they would be graced with such an auspicious presence. In unison, the brethren were hand in hand in preparing not only their house of worship but also their whole being for such a momentous event.

Brother Lener Reyes, a head deacon in the local congregation, was one of the attendees. Brother Lener has been serving as a deacon for 30 years and has been entrusted to organize the duties of deacons and deaconesses who will perform in the worship service. As of writing, he has been performing his duty as a head deacon for six years. He said, “It brings me great joy in my life because I can serve our Lord God more through this function,” Brother Lener shared.

During the preaching of the Executive Minister, Brother Lener recalled an instance in his life, “During the time when the pandemic started, my wife contracted Covid-19 and was quarantined for three weeks in a Covid facility because she had symptoms.” It was during those times when the illness was at its height and those who were diagnosed with it were fearful and uncertain of what will happen to them next. Brother Lener’s household was shaken, but they did not lose hope.

“We held on to what the Almighty Father can do through continuous prayer and devoted worship of our entire household,” Brother Lener stated. Eventually, his wife’s health was restored, and the pandemic has passed.

“What struck me the most in what our beloved Executive Minister said was when he reminded us that whatever we encounter in this life, we should rely on and trust in what our Lord God can do,” Brother Lener expressed. “I am thankful because one of my biggest dreams has come true, to personally see the Executive Minister and attend a worship service where he officiated. This is a unique experience in my life that I will never forget,” he continued.

Brother Lener’s experience shows that the perspective of faithful members of the Church Of Christ on trials is unique from that of the world. The problems, trials, and issues that are commonly felt and make life difficult for many are viewed by members inside the Church as windows of opportunity given by God to remember Him, to pray, and to converse with Him. In this way, God draws near to them and strengthens their faith.

God invigorates us with His power
Nagoya, Japan
By Stephanie delos Reyes

Brother Gerald Dizon is active in performing his duty as a choir member and Technical Support for Videostreaming (TSV) officer in the Local Congregation of Osaka, Ecclesiastical District of Nagoya Japan. Despite the long travel time and the efforts he spends every time he attends worship service, he never wavered in performing his Church duties.

“Whenever I perform my Church duties in Osaka and Okayama, it is a struggle for me because I live so far away. I would have to prepare early and then return home very late. I would leave my house while it was still dark and return home when it was already dark,” Brother Gerald shared. Even so, he still has in mind how important it is to attend worship services, especially as Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded them of the strength that they would receive during worship services.

One of the trials that Brother Gerald went through when he first arrived in Japan was his interactions with his co-workers. “I recognized that I must be selective with whom I will associate myself with. I need to surround myself with people who will not lead me astray. That is why I look forward to attending worship services because it allows me to spend time with the brethren, co-Church officers, with whom I share the true religion,” Brother Gerald contemplated.

It is natural for people to be astonished when they move to a different country with a different culture. However, Brother Gerald believes that it is critical that no matter what he does, his behavior must remain Christian as he understands that the persons he meets or befriends will have a significant impact on his life.

Brother Gerald distinctly remembers what Brother Eduardo Manalo said in the worship service which was livestreamed in his local congregation in Japan. He emphasized that no matter how many trials they face, there’s no reason for them to lose hope because the Lord God is more than able and willing to help His Children.

“God invigorates our faith with His power. That is what I learned from Brother Eduardo Manalo. He also taught us how we should live, how we should put our hope in what God can do for us. And he reminded us that we can overcome any trial and problem, if we always put our trust in God,” Brother Gerald shared.

神様の力で私たちを活気づけてくださる

日本、名古屋

兄弟ジェラルド・ディゾンは、名古屋教会区大阪ローカルの聖歌隊およびビデオストリーミング技術サポート(TSV)役員として、積極的に任務を遂行しています。長い移動時間と礼拝に出席するたびに多大な労力を費やしたにもかかわらず、彼は教会の義務を果たすことに決して動揺しませんでした。

「大阪と岡山で教会の義務を果たすときはいつも、遠くに住んでいるので大変です。早めに準備をし、帰宅するのがとても遅くなってしまいます。早朝の暗いうちに家を出て、真っ暗な夜に家に帰りました」と兄弟ジェラルドは語った。それでも、特に兄弟エドゥアルド・マナロが礼拝中に受けた事を思い出させたので、彼は礼拝に出席することがいかに重要であるかを今でも心に留めています。

兄弟ジェラルドが初めて日本に来たときに経験した試練の一つは、同僚との交流でした。 「誰と付き合うかは選ばなければならないことに気づきました。私を正しい道から遠ざけない人たちに囲まれなければなりません。だからこそ私は礼拝に出席するのを楽しみにしています。なぜなら、真の宗教を分かち合う兄弟たち、教会の共同役員たちと時間を過ごすことができるからです」と兄弟ジェラルドは考えました。

文化の異なる異国に移住したとき、人々が驚くのは当然のことです。しかし、兄弟ジェラルドは、出会ったり友人になったりする人々が自分の人生に大きな影響を与えることを理解しているため、何をするにしても、自分の行動がクリスチャンであり続けることが重要であると信じています。

兄弟ジェラルドは、日本の自分の地区でライブストリーミングされた礼拝で兄弟エドゥアルド・マナロが言ったことをはっきりと覚えています。たとえどんなに多くの試練に直面しても、主なる神はご自身の子供たちを助ける力が十分にあり、喜んで助けてくださるので、子供たちが希望を失う理由はない、と彼は強調しました。

「神の力で私たちの信仰を活気づけてくださいます。それが私が兄弟エドゥアルド・マナロから学んだことです。また、私たちがどのように生きるべきか、神が私たちのためにしてくださることにどのように希望をもつべきかを教えてくれました。そして、常に神に信頼を置けば、どんな試練や問題も乗り越えられるということを思い出させてくれました」と兄弟ジェラルドは語った。 (ステファニー・デロス・レヤス著)

Sasagipin tayo ng Diyos
San Jose, Antique
Sinulat ni Lei Ann Joy Aduana

Bilang pakikipagkaisa sa panawagan ng Pamamahala na paigtingin ang gawaing pagpapalaganap ng mga salita ng Diyos, si Kapatid na Elsie Hantoc, isang diakonesa sa Lokal ng San Jose, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Antique, kasama ang kaniyang buong sambahayan at iba pang mga maytungkulin, ay umakyat sa bundok ng General Luna, San Remigio, Antique upang doon ay mag-anyaya ng mga makikinig sa mga salita ng Panginoong Diyos. Bunga ng kanilang pagtitiyaga at pagsisikap ay nakapagtatag doon ng isang lokal noong 2014, na natayuan ng isa sa mga kauna-unahang barangay chapel sa Pilipinas.

Hindi naging madali ang kanilang mga paglalakbay sa bundok sapagkat marami rin silang sinuong na mga panganib sa daan. May pagkakataon na buwis-buhay nilang tinatawid ang rumaragasang ilog para lamang makarating sa Lokal ng General Luna. “Wara nangin sablag ang malain nga tyempo para matuman namun ang amun katungdanan” (Hindi naging sagabal ang sama ng panahon para matupad ang isang bahagi ng aming tungkulin), kwento ni Kapatid na Elsie. At kahit maganda minsan ang panahon, hindi rin sila nakaiiwas sa panganib dahil sa biglang pagtaas ng tubig sa ilog na kanilang tinatawid. Umaabot sa pagkakataong wala nang nagtatangkang tumawid roon, subalit kapag araw ng pagsamba, hindi pa rin ito hadlang kina Kapatid na Elsie. Ang ginagawa na lamang ng kaniyang asawa ay nagbAng tawag balsa sila, habang siya na mismo ang nagsasagwan. Sa awa at tulong ng Diyos ay ligtas silang nakatatawid.

Napamahal sa kanilang sambahayan ang lokal na iyon dahil sa kanilang mga naging karanasan, subalit may naging matinding dagok rin silang naranasan. Noong September 2, 2018, maaga pa lamang ay inihatid na siya ng kaniyang asawa na si Kapatid na Joey Hatoc para makatupad sa Lokal ng San Jose, samantalang ito naman ay sa Lokal ng General Luna tutungo upang samahan ang ministrong mangangasiwa. Pagkatapos ng pagtupad sa pagsamba ni Kapatid na Elsie ay natanggap niya ang nakalulungkot na balita mula sa kaniyang anak. “Nagtawag run lamang ang akon pinakagurang nga bata kag naghambal nga ‘Ma, preparar mo ang imo kaugalingon.’ Wara guid namun ma ekspektar nga ang adlaw nga tu, amu run tu ang urihi nga tupad kang akon pinalangga nga asawa, Bisan sa mga urihi nga ti-on kang anang kabuhi, rugyan gyapon ang kabakod nga pirmi na ginatudlo kanamun. Nga bisan ano ang matabo, padayun lang sa pag-alagad (Tumawag na lamang po ang aking panganay na anak at sinabing ‘Ma, ihanda mo po ang iyong sarili.’ Hindi namin inaakala na sa araw na iyon ay siyang huling pagtupad ng aking mahal na asawa. Kahit sa kahuli-hulihan ng buhay niya, naroon pa rin po ang tatag na laging ipinapangaral niya sa amin, na kahit anong mangyari, magpatuloy sa paglilingkod),” salaysay ni Kapatid na Elsie.

Sa kabila ng lahat ng mga pagsubok na kanilang naranasan ay patuloy siyang naninindigan at nagpapakatatag para sa kaniyang mga anak. “Bisan naga-isarahanon kaw lamang, purmi nga sulod kang imong tagipusuon kag huna-huna nga rugyan ang Amay nga purmi nga nagabulig para makapadayun ikaw sa imo nga takbuhin” (Kahit na nag-iisa ka na, laging laman ng puso’t isipan mo na nariyan ang Ama na patuloy na sumasaklolo para makapagpatuloy ka sa iyong takbuhin sa buhay), ito ang paninindigan ni Kapatid na Elsie. 

Nauunawaan ni Kapatid na Elsie na hindi mawawala ang mga pagsubok sa kanilang buhay. Ngunit sa pamamagitan ng taimtim na panalangin ng mga hinirang ng Diyos, sumasampalataya si Kapatid na Elsie na iingatan siya ng Diyos at kailanman ay hindi siya pababayaan maging ang kaniyang pamilya.