AMONG HIS SCHEMES, inducing complacency and despondency may be used by the devil in his attempts to lure God’s people away from their devoted service to Him. Thus, the members of the Church Of Christ must always be on guard and ready to face any condition in their life with full determination to remain obedient to all of God’s commands and triumph in the fight for their faith.
That is what the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, reminded the brethren who attended the worship service he officiated at on October 9, 2021. The sacred gathering was streamed live to the ecclesiastical district and local congregations that were celebrating their milestone anniversaries. Three of them had reached over 100 years: the Local Congregation of De Castro, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila East marked its 105th anniversary; the Local Congregation of Tinajeros, CAMANAVA District its 103rd; and the Local Congregation of San Fernando, Pampanga East District its 102nd.
With renewed spiritual vigor from the inspiring teachings and counsels of the Lord God that they received, the brethren felt all the better prepared to thwart any scheme the devil might use to trap them. After all, for them, there is nothing new about the enemy’s tactics—for God’s servants had faced them before—and that they need to remain alert and faithful to God, as they had done before.
Tinajeros, Malabon City
Written by Danica Castro
A Church secretary in the Local Congregation of Tinajeros, Ecclesiastical District of CAMANAVA, Sister Aivee Alcuran’s conviction is that she will be prayerful when facing life’s tribulations in the midst of the pandemic.
“It is not easy to lose a loved one, and it is also not easy when your whole family is infected with this illness. But God upheld us. He helped us when we prayed to Him,” she said as she reminisced the time when her family faced the biggest test in their lives—being infected with Covid-19. God gave her strength when she sincerely sought for His help. She was the only one left who was not infected as she tended to the needs of her sick parents.
“Even the most devastating illness can be healed by God, there is nothing impossible with Him,” she said with conviction. “And God can turn the most difficult situation for the benefit of His people. He will uplift us—that is what I learned from the Executive Minister,” she said. Sister Aivee stays true to her commitment that whatever tribulations life throws her way, she will continue seeking God’s help. She has learned that these are necessary for her to prove her faith. Thus, instead of these trials causing her to feel discouraged, she even felt that these should be a reason for her to rejoice.
The Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, continues reminding the Church members to be dedicated to the worship services to the Lord God, for their spiritual welfare. He always reminds them that they should never let their guard down. When the time comes that God will reward His faithful servants, they are guaranteed of the greatest joy.
De Castro, Pasig City
Written by Kathleen Mora
“It is important for us that all things we do everyday are based on the teachings of God taught in the Church Of Christ,” said Sister Jovy Bernardo, a finance officer in the Local Congregation of De Castro. As a business owner, she holds on to God’s words as her principle in dealing with her employees. “We know what are forbidden to do and how we can righteously manage our personnel. We will not do anything to mislead them.”
Her husband, Brother Noel Bernardo, one of the head deacons in the local congregation, has the same faith as that of his wife. “If we know the teachings of our Lord God, they will be our guide as we sojourn in this life,” he said. “I received an offer to go back to my work in Dubai, but I refused because I was about to accept the Church duty as a leadership aide assisting in the pulpit. So I decided to stay,” he said. “Nothing is more important than fulfilling our duties in the Church, and this is what I have been teaching our children—even if this world offers them great opportunities, they should make sure that they can still be able to perform their duties. That is our number one priority.” Brother Noel and his family are not afraid to lose everything for as long as they remain in their duties in the Church.
Even when they faced great trials in life, they put all of their trust in God. Sister Jovy said, “Every night, we go to the chapel to hold our devotional prayer.” Her husband added, “I had a mild stroke before. But we never stopped praying to our Lord God and, through His mercy, I recovered and continued fulfilling my sacred obligations.”
With God’s help and guidance, their trust in the Lord has kept them focused on their goal—salvation. And as they celebrated their local congregation’s 105th anniversary, they promised to remain steadfast, always preparing themselves for Christ’s Second Advent.
Written by Justin Kaye Rodriguez
Sister Leila Saint-Amad, from the Local Congregation of Nagoya, was looking forward to the promising prospects of moving to Japan from the United States, which opened various doors of opportunities for her. Yet, she also had to face the feeling of loneliness that came with it.
Her pursuit to finish her pre-law studies in Japan was one of the biggest steps she had to take in her life. To experience a different culture, make friends for keeps, and be able to fulfill her dream was an amazing way to get the best out of her pursuit. But as life would have it, as the deadlines of schoolwork started to pile up, the culture shock setting in, the language barrier becoming more challenging, and the peer pressure increasing, it was too much to handle for one person traversing this country away from family. She was not exempt from extreme hardships. But actively listening to the words of God and performing her duties were the important things that kept her going.
“I remember after the Holy Supper, I felt so calm and then everyone was together,” she recalls. The brotherhood in the Church gave her a newfound inspiration in a foreign land. “I felt like I got to laugh for the first time in a long time, and my place is here.”
Being a member of the Church Of Christ, she firmly believed that she always had the Lord God by her side. “At the end of the day, I draw near to God and can calm down, feeling at peace for that one moment in time,” she pondered as she realized that what had once been insurmountable had now become a hurdle that was possible for her to surpass.
She proved that as long as Church members work toward glorifying the Almighty God, they are rest assured that He will never forsake them.
Bel-Air, Makati City
Sinulat ni Roxanne Bautista
Ibinahagi ni Kapatid na Nico Isagani Cadalin, ang katiwala sa Ilaw ng Kaligtasan at TSV (Technical Support for Video Streaming) lead sa Lokal ng Bel-Air, ang kaniyang karanasan tungkol sa kaniyang naging paninindigan sa harap ng tukso.
“Ako ay nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na makapaghanapbuhay sa larangan ng Information Technology. At noong nakaraang buwan ay nagkaroon ako ng offer na makapaghanapbuhay sa Middle East na totoong nakakaakit dahil ang sahod ay malaki.”
Ngunit, naging maingat sa pagde-desisyon si Kapatid na Nico, lalo na’t marami siyang gampanin sa loob ng Iglesia Ni Cristo. “Ang tukso at ang panganib dito ay maaaring hindi ako makadalo ng pagsamba at hindi ako makatupad ng aking mga tungkulin.”
Nagunita niya ang mga itinuro ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan na hindi dapat mahadlangan ang mga kaanib sa kanilang pagsamba, pagtupad ng tungkulin, at pagtulong sa mga gawain ng Iglesia.
“Ang pagtuturo ng Pamamahala ay inspirasyon at gabay sa bawat isa sa atin kung paano natin haharapin ang iba’t ibang pagsubok at tukso na maaaring dumating sa atin. Napuno ako ng kagalakan at napalakas ang aking loob sa pagharap sa mga pagsubok sa buhay. Nang manalangin ang Namamahala ay pumatak ang aming luha dahil damang-dama namin ang kanilang pag-ibig sa bawat isang kaanib ng Iglesia, na nais nilang lahat tayo ay maligtas sa Araw ng Paghuhukom.”
Ito ang pangako niya sa kaniyang sarili dahil sa kaniyang natutuhan sa Namamahala: “Ako ay magiging preparado, mapagbantay, at magiging matapang sa paraang mananatili ako sa pagtupad ng aking tungkulin. Maglalaan kaming mag-asawa ng mga oras sa paglahok sa mga aktibidad na inilulunsad ng Pamamahala. Kami ay magiging maingat sa pagdadala ng buhay at lalayo sa mga kalayawan. At magtatalaga kami sa aming mga araw-araw na pagpapanata sa Ama.”
Hindi itinuring ni kapatid na Nico na kalugihan ang ginawa niyang pagpili sa pagtugon sa kaniyang pananagutan sa Diyos. Para sa kaniya, nagawa niyang mapagtagumpayan ang tukso at naingatan niya ang mas mahalaga—ang kaniyang tungkulin.
San Fernando, Pampanga
Written by Jomar Manaloto
“Being a member of the Church Of Christ is my life and treasure. If I were not in the Church, I would be nothing.”
This was how Sister Alpha Jenena Panganiban, a choir member and finance officer in the Local Congregation of San Fernando, regarded her Church membership despite the trials she has faced through the years.
“I managed to study and finish a BS Criminology degree. I was really upbeat at that point as I prepared the necessary documents and took review classes to take up the board exams so that I could finally start my career from then on,” she shared.
Unbeknownst to Sister Alpha, her faith would then be tested. “When the schedule of the board exams was released, it was dated December 14–16. Coincidentally, the Year-End Thanksgiving worship services of the Church fell on those same dates. It was not easy to make a decision that time because my family and I sacrificed a lot, especially for the board exams.”
“I chose to forego taking the board exams and instead went to fulfill my duties at the Thanksgiving worship service and give thanks to God,” she declared.
The following year, Sister Alpha had the opportunity to take the board exams and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) entrance tests. With the help of the Lord God, she passed both examinations.
“Just like what our Executive Minister taught us, we should make God our utmost priority by always being obedient to His words, fulfilling our duties, and being brave in facing the challenges in our lives so our divine election will not be compromised,” she said with conviction.
Eastwood, Edmonton, Canada
Written by Jeanelyn Bustamante
Brother Sanny Basilio, the local congregation’s Buklod president, recalled how he and his entire family felt when they found out about the worship service to be officiated by the Executive Minister: “We knew that this was going to be a great blessing not just to our congregation but to our entire family as well.”
The Executive Minister reminded the brethren how they should stand firm in their faith and how they would overcome the devil’s deception by always holding on to the words of God. These lessons reminded Brother Sanny how he managed to overcome one of the trials he went through when he was young. In their province in the Philippines, they were harassed by persecutors who tried to prevent them from leaving their homes to attend the worship service.
“The local government thought then that we were rebels, while the rebels thought we are informers of the government military.”
But the situation did not hinder them to continue rendering their services to our Lord God. His conviction had not changed, but had even grown more steadfast as he faced new challenges and difficulties in a different country: “My faith becomes stronger and, even up to this moment that I experience trials and problems in life, I still firmly believe that our Almighty God will help me for as long as I hold on to His truth and trust in Him.”
Wherever he is, he understands that this world will not get any better and it will come to its end, so he always recalls what he learned from the Executive Minister. Brother Sanny said, “Brother Eduardo Manalo untiringly reminds us that we can use our faith as our armor and shield, so that we can overcome all the hindrances that we have to face.”
Bascaran, Nueva Vizcaya
Written by Tristan Jay Mendoza
“I always feel the protection from God, and I am thankful for every day because He is always giving me the strength of faith so I may fulfill my duties.” Sister Maricel Valdez is formerly an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Hong Kong, but was terminated by her employer for persisting to attend the worship services. She went to Macao after her termination. She said, “I thank God for He didn’t neglect me, from my days attending the Bible studies until I was baptized.” She is now an active deaconess and Light of Salvation officer in the Local Congregation of Bascaran, Nueva Vizcaya. She also ensures that her family is always actively participating in the Church’s work of propagation.
Another convert, Brother Joseph Gragasin, is a former sacristan (altar boy) in the Roman Catholic church who assisted in every Mass in school. But after learning about the true service of God by listening to His words taught in the Church Of Christ, he decided to join the Church.
“The love of the brotherhood in the Church Of Christ is greater than my ties with my siblings,” Brother Joseph emphasized because his family disowned him after he converted to the Church. Now that he already has his own family, he ensures that all the members of his household fulfill their responsibilities as members of the Church and he sets a good example when he performs various Church duties, including being the TSV leader of their congregation.
Both Church members remembered what the Executive Minister emphasized during the worship service—that it is wrong for a servant of God to be a coward when facing the enemy. So, they resolved to hold on to their faith and steadfastly uphold their obedience to God’s commands.