The newly dedicated house of worship of the Local Congregation of Matalam in Cotabato, Philippines with a seating-capacity of 250

God keeps us safe
on the road we travel

DEDICATION OF SEVEN HOUSES OF WORSHIP
COMMEMORATION OF MILESTONE ANNIVERSARIES
TEMPLO CENTRAL, QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES

With the Covid-19 pandemic still not completely over, armed conflicts rage, and climate change triggering the worst of disasters, the global economy continues suffering. Of course, the adverse effects of all these trickle down to the lives and securities of the citizens in whatever country they might be.

Amid these and other threats, Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) members courageously get on with their lives. Believing that the Lord God will never abandon them, they remain steadfast in their duties to serve and worship Him. Their firm hope is that God is the One Who strengthens them and leads them on their spiritual journey.

This was emphasized to them yet again by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Church’s Executive Minister, in his homily when he officiated at a worship service at the Central Temple in Quezon City, Philippines on March 19, 2022. The sacred occasion’s whole proceeding was streamed live to the six local congregations and one extension, whose respective newly-built houses of worship were dedicated to God, as well as to the 38 local congregations celebrating their milestone anniversaries.

How was it manifested in the lives of the brethren that the Lord God is truly the One Who enables His chosen people to be strong and Who keeps them safe on the paths they tread despite the many extraordinary things that hinder them along their way?

The house of worship of the Tubiala Local Congregation in South Cotabato
was among the seven houses of worship dedicated to God on March 19, 2022

God is our refuge and strength
San Roque, Bohol
Written by Queenie Simbajon

 A 67-year-old deaconess in the Local Congregation of San Roque, Ecclesiastical District of Bohol, Sister Herminia Boybanting firmly upholds her faith by devotedly fulfilling her duty in the Church Of Christ despite the medical complications and other challenges she has to endure.

Sister Herminia was diagnosed with diabetes, which caused both of her feet to be swollen and darkened, and which also affected her eyesight. With her condition, fulfilling her Church obligations became difficult. However, she asserts, “Kung masakit ka, lalo ka nang musimba [When you are sick you should attend worship services even more].”

The Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, tirelessly reminds the Church members that they should not be discouraged no matter what they may encounter. Instead, they should always draw near to God because He will be their strength and protection throughout their journey. And that is what inspired Sister Herminia as she listened to the words of God during the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister through livestreaming in commemoration of their congregation’s 75th anniversary.

Nagpatuloy ko ug ngana tungod kay salig man ko sa Diyos, ang Ama nga naghatag nahong kalakasan [I continue to endure because I trust in God, the Father Who gives me strength],” she said with certitude. Despite the chronic health condition of Sister Herminia, her heart is full of genuine happiness as she continues being blessed with an opportunity to fulfill her duty, and her condition has been an inspiration for her children to actively worship the Lord God no matter what happens—a victory she was solemnly praying for.


The newly built house of worship of the Agtiwa Local Congregation in Romblon can seat 110 worshipers

Expect God to act
San Pablo, California
Written by Marjorie Villanueva

Sister Elizabeth Vega is not new to facing many troubles, one problem after another. She is the head secretary of the Local Congregation of San Pablo, California. She attended the livestreamed worship service officiated by Brother Eduardo Manalo, in which her local congregation was one of the connected sites.

After hearing the homily of the Executive Minister, she felt that she was once again strengthened in her faith. She comments, “We cannot really blame people for being horrified with all of these happening around us all at the same time. But as Church Of Christ members, we already knew long before that these things would happen.”

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few months after she gave birth to her second child. And again, after a few years, she was afflicted with breast cancer. She was also witness to terrifying calamities that greatly affected her family. She witnessed firsthand as a tidal wave hit their home when she was just six years old and, a few years later, Mount Pinatubo erupted when she was in the Philippines and her husband was abroad.

She lost her mother who had Alzheimer’s Disease in 2015. However, her parents have already taught her when she was still young how she should deal with problems she encounters. “I pray and continue in performing my duties and never allow myself to be hindered and always do my best to show God how grateful I am for being in the Church. His answers are quick,” she relayed.

We, members of the Church Of Christ are guided with the help of God through the Church Administration. It is through the dynamic leadership of our beloved Executive Minister that we receive God’s timely teachings during our worship services. We are reminded that no matter what happens, whatever we face, we should always remember that God is there for us. He enables us to be strong and we depend on Him for solutions. This is His promise to His people, and He will never allow the consistently righteous to be moved, to slip or fall. 

The Kinangay Sur Congregation's house of worship in Misamis Occidental
was among those who were dedicated to God on March 19 that can fit 150 worshipers

Ang Panginoon ang mangunguna sa atin 
Pasay, Metro Manila
Sinulat ni Eryka Rose Raton

“Nagsimula ang lahat sa simpleng pagtitinda ng mga palamig at itlog dito sa Baclaran. Dayo lang kami rito dahil galing kami sa Cebu at nakipagsapalaran lang kami sa Maynila,” pag-alaala ni Kapatid na Paul John Parreño na, katulad ng maraming kapatid mula sa Lokal ng Pasay   , Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Metro Manila South, ay pagtitinda ng iba’t ibang uri ng kalakal ang pangunahing ikinabubuhay.

Matapos umanib sa Iglesia Ni Cristo ang kaniyang buong sambahayan, si Kapatid na Paul John ay tumanggap ng tungkulin at naging Pangulong Binhi sa lokal at pangulo ng dako ng Pagsamba Ng Kabataan (PNK). Pahayag niya, “Simula noon, biyaya na mismo ang lumalapit sa amin.” Ngayon, siya ay isang kalihim sa lokal, guro sa PNK, at maytungkulin sa kapisanang KADIWA.

Sa kabila ng kanilang pagsisikap, dumating ang pagkakataon na humina ang negosyo ng pamilya ni Kapatid na Paul John. Dahil dito, huminto muna siya sa kaniyang pag-aaral. Gayunman, hindi nagbago ang kaniyang kasiglahan sa pagtupad ng tungkulin. Pahayag niya, “Binibigyan ko ng higit na malaking pagpapahalaga ang pagtupad ko ng tungkulin at pagsunod sa mga utos ng ating Panginoong Diyos.”

Sa awa at tulong ng Diyos, muling lumago ang hanapbuhay ng pamilya niya. Sa kasalukuyan, bukod sa isang sari-sari store, mayroon na rin silang tindahan ng construction supplies, at magbubukas na rin ang kanilang hardware store. Sumasampalataya siya na ang lahat ng ito ay biyaya ng Diyos. Pahayag niya, “Bukod sa aming pagsisikap, ito ay, higit sa lahat, bunga ng walang tigil naming pagpapanata sa Diyos at pagtupad ng tungkulin sa loob ng Iglesia Ni Cristo.”

Ayon kay Kapatid na Paul John, bunga ng pakikinig niya sa pagtuturo ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo noong ipinagdiwang ng kanilang lokal ang ika-102 anibersaryo nito, lalo niyang napagtanto: “Sa bawat daan na tatahakin natin sa buhay ay hinding-hindi tayo pababayaan ng Ama. Patuloy pa Niya tayong palalakasin at patitibayin sa pagdaan natin sa maraming pagsubok sa buhay.”

The newly dedicated house of worship of the Local Congregation of Lumbucan
is situated in Brgy. Lumbucan, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte

God is on our side
Ketchikan, Alaska
By Aurora Janelle Nery

There is no reason for us to fail.

Such was one of the many lessons the congregation learned from the homily of the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, on March 19, 2022. Some of the brethren who attended the worship service through live streaming were those from the Local Congregation of Ketchikan, Ecclesiastical District of Alaska, which has reached a milestone, its 10th anniversary.

Brother Bernie Bueza, one of the pioneering brethren in Ketchikan, was able to recall one of the many trials their local congregation went through since the time it was still a Group Worship Service (GWS). He narrated: “There was no assigned minister here yet, so we had to make adjustments with the schedule of our worship services. At times we had to talk to our co-workers, so we could exchange shifts with them, but would not be permitted by the management. So, we had to take the day off without pay. We had to because we had to attend the worship service, and the minister would still come from Seattle.”

Brother Bernie Bueza with his family

Despite the odds, Brother Bernie was unhindered. He was never remiss in attending the worship service. His conviction is that without God by their side, the most challenging times they went through in their congregation would have overcome them. He firmly believes that it is because of God’s help and mercy that the brethren in Ketchikan have reached this day and are able to celebrate their milestone anniversary.

“God did not forsake us. And we had surmounted the difficult times with His mercy and help.”

The new 150-seater sacred edifice of the Lurugan Congregation stands in Brgy. Lurugan, Valencia City, Bukidnon

Namamalaging malapit sa atin ang Diyos
Pasig, Metro Manila
Sinulat ni Kate Ernacio

“Nalungkot … Natakot … Na-stress.” Naramdaman ito ni Kapatid na Pilipina Carillo, “Penny” kung tawagin ng karamihan, nang ma-diagnose noong 2018 na may mabigat siyang karamdaman. “Mayroon akong cyst sa ovary at myoma. Naapektuhan din ang cervix ko,” pahayag niya.

Hindi niya lubos maisip kung paano niya ito haharapin, lalo na’t siya pa naman ay breadwinner ng kanilang pamilya. Ngunit bilang maytungkulin sa loob ng Iglesia, hindi siya pinanawan ng pag-asa. Alam niya kung sino ang unang-unang magpapalakas sa kaniya: ang Panginoong Diyos. Pahayag niya, “Ipinagpanata kong tulungan ako ng Diyos. Hiniling kong maka-recover ako.”

Nanghawak si Kapatid na Penny sa magagawa ng Diyos. Pahayag niya, “Bukod sa pagpapanata, nagpapapahid din ako ng langis.” Hindi niya ito kinaligtaan kahit inaasikaso rin niya ang paghahanap ng panggugol para sa kaniyang operasyon. Pahayag niya, “Kasi ang buhay ng tao ay nakasalalay sa Panginoong Diyos. Kasangkapan lamang ang mga manggagamot.”

Some of the KADIWA officers in the Local Congregation of Pasig

At hindi nabigo si Kapatid na Penny. Nakaipon siya ng sapat na halaga para sa kaniyang operasyon. 

Gayunman, pahayag niya, “Disyembre iyon, malapit sa taunang Pasalamat ng Iglesia. Gusto ng doktor na operahan na ako dahil sa laki ng cyst na pinangangambahan niyang baka malignant o cancerous na.” Ngunit dahil sa kagustuhang makatupad sa pagsamba bilang kalihim ng lokal, nakiusap si Kapatid na Penny sa doktor na gawin ang operasyon pagkatapos na lamang ng Pasalamat.

Ilang araw makalipas ang Taunang Pagpapasalamat, nagpa-confine na siya sa ospital upang sumailalim sa operasyon. Mula sa puntong iyon hanggang bago pumasok sa operating room, hindi siya bumitiw sa pagdulog sa Panginoong Diyos.

Pagsasalaysay ni Kapatid na Penny, “Bago ang operasyon, payapa ako. Magaan ang loob ko. Nawala ang takot.” Naging matagumpay ang kaniyang operasyon. At salungat sa paniniwala ng ilang doktor, nakumpirma na hindi malignant ang cyst na tumubo sa kaniya.

Inspirado, nagpatuloy si Kapatid na Penny sa kasiglahan bilang maytungkulin. Dahil sa kaniyang pinagdaanan, lalo niyang napatunayan na “Hindi bagong bagay ang mga pagsubok, lalo na sa ating mga Iglesia Ni Cristo. Gayunman, may Diyos na gagabay, tutulong, at magbibigay ng solusyon sa atin.”


Ilagak sa Diyos ang ating pasan
Matalam, Cotabato
Sinulat ni Marlon Rilan

Tubong Aparri, Cagayan si Kapatid na Florentino dela Cruz. Dahil sa kahirapang dulot na rin ng sunud-sunod na bagyong nararanasan ng kanilang lalawigan, gayunman, kalaunan ay nagpasiya siyang sumunod sa Mindanao kung saan nauna nang lumipat ang kaniyang mga magulang.

Dumating siya sa bayan ng Matalam, lalawigan ng Cotabato noong 1969.

“Ang kalagayan ng [kapilya] nang dumating ako rito ay maliit lamang, ngunit sa tulong ng mga kapatid ay inayos namin sa pamamagitan ng pagbabatares.” Tumanggap siya noon ng tungkulin bilang mang-aawit.

Marami silang napagdaanan sa kanilang lalawigan. Sariwa pa sa kaniyang isipan ang naganap na malakas na lindol noong 1976, kung kailan maraming gusali ang napinsala nang malubha, pero nanatiling nakatayo ang kanilang gusaling sambahan. Gayundin ang mahabang tagtuyot noong 1983 na ikinasira ng kanilang mga pananim, kaya marami noon ang umalis at lumipat na ng tirahan.

Sa harap ng lahat ng ito, pahayag ni Kapatid na Florentino: “Naglagak kami ng tiwala sa Ama. Kaya, sa kabila ng lahat ng pagsubok na aming naranasan, mas lalo pang tumibay ang aming pananampalataya.”

Patuloy ang paglaki ng lokal hanggang mapahintulutan ng Pamamahala na magkaroon sila ng extension sa barangay ng Dalapitan, na kalaunan ay naging isang lokal na rin. Tumanggap noon ng bagong tungkulin si Kapatid na Florentino bilang diakono, at ngayon ay Pangulong Buklod na rin siya sa kanilang lokal.

Limampu’t tatlong taon na silang naninirahan sa Matalam, at doon na nila itinaguyod sa mahabang panahon ang paglilingkod nila sa Panginoong Diyos, at dama nilang di sila iniwan ng Diyos.

“Kaming magkakapatid sa Lokal ng Matalam ay buong pusong nagpapasalamat sa ating Tagapamahala at, higit sa lahat, sa ating Ama na Siyang laging gumagabay sa kaniya.”

The house of worship of the WLAC Congregation in Brgy. Nagbunga, San Marcelino, Zambales
was dedicated to God on March 19, 2022