Great is the power
and efficacy of prayer

Great is the power and efficacy of prayer

Commemoration of milestone anniversaries
Sacramento, Makati, Philippines

A HEARTFELT AND sincere prayer to God is a powerful tool that a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) can utilize against many troubles, especially now that the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ is fast approaching. This timely biblical lesson was what Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Church, highlighted during the worship service he officiated previously at the house of worship of the Local Congregation of Sacramento, Ecclesiastical District of Makati.

After the study of God’s words, Brother Romer D. Galang led the congregation in the closing prayer while the prayer for the voluntary offerings was led by Brother Arnel A. Tumanan. The benediction was said by Brother Bienvenido C. Santiago.

The following Executive News writers shared their personal accounts on this holy occasion and how some of their fellow brethren from their respective congregations attest to the power and efficacy of a faithful servant’s prayer to God.

Striving further as we draw closer
Sacramento, Makati
By Ignicris Alera

Around 10:00 in the morning on that Saturday, while carrying my deacon’s uniform, I started traversing the bustling market along Sacramento Street from JP Rizal Avenue in Makati City, Philippines. At the far end where Sacramento Street meets San Anselmo Street, the towering buildings of the Makati Central Business District can be seen on the horizon, but that only serves as a modest background to the magnificent house of worship of the Local Congregation of Sacramento that stands before it with its sharp gothic-inspired towers.

What even added to my elation was seeing the excitement of the Church members, including some of the congregation’s pioneer brethren and all the Church officers, as they started to converge on the tents right outside the chapel compound. The important holy occasion that we all eagerly awaited was about to take place on that warm and bright day—something we considered as an answered prayer, as the weather had been inclement during the past week. It was the pastoral visit of our beloved Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, to our dear local congregation.

After an hour, all performing Church officers had already been allowed to enter the chapel, followed by the brethren. The video wall was already turned on when we entered, showcasing the usual blue background but, this time, with a picture of our congregation’s house of worship almost right on the edge of the screen.

I recalled a conversation during the week of preparations with Brother Ezer Dumale, the congregation’s Technical Support for Video Streaming (TSV) lead. As TSV officers, they strive to ensure that every videostreaming of the pastoral visit of our Executive Minister takes place flawlessly. “For the several occasions that I have seen pictures of different worship buildings being used in the background of the video streaming graphics, seeing my own congregation’s hits differently. It made me feel very blessed that our Executive Minister remembered our congregation,” said Brother Ezer.

Soon after, the organist began playing preludes as the brethren continued holding their personal prayers. After the devotional prayer for the Church officers, the hymn singing followed immediately led by the choir members. Afterwards, Brother Eduardo Manalo, together with some ministers and head deacons, entered the podium and, shortly, the congregation was asked to rise for the opening prayer led by Brother Diosdado F. Dades. In his prayer, he thanked our Almighty God for protecting the Church and the Church Administration against its detractors. 

That was on August 1, 2015, eight years ago, yet I remember it clearly like it was just yesterday, as I also performed as a deacon in that worship service, when the Executive Minister mentioned about his willingness to give his own life for the welfare of all the true members of the Church.

Fast forward to this Saturday, the Executive Minister started his homily with how the previous leaders of the Church in these last days—Brother Felix Y. Manalo, God’s Messenger in these last days, who led the Church for 48 years; Brother Eraño G. Manalo, who administered the Church for 46 years—and even the current Executive Minister, have always taught the brethren to strive further as we draw closer to the end of our spiritual race.

With the many trials we encounter, Brother Eduardo Manalo, through the words of God, taught us to have a sound mind, practice self-control, and remain focused on obeying His will so as not be distracted by the things of this world. He also reminded us not to be surprised by the extreme trials we will face, and he encouraged all the brethren to continue being prayerful.

As I contemplated on the lesson, I recalled the inspiring stories of some of my fellow Church officers which prove that our Almighty God indeed answers the prayers of His faithful servants. After the worship service, I had the privilege to speak with them and get their testimonies of faith.

“My wife, Sister Cecille, a deaconess, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone surgery last year. With the help of God, she continues becoming better,” said Brother John Parco, the bishop of our congregation. His entire family are Church officers and an epitome of prayerfulness.

Furthermore, Brother Florentino Tamayo Jr., our second head deacon, also shared, “While on a family trip last month, I was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery to remove gall stones a week before the pastoral visitation. With God’s grace, I was up and about soon enough. And with His mercy, I was able to perform my duty during the pastoral visitation.”

Even my family was not spared from trials. Our son, Marko, a seven-year-old member of the Children’s Worship Service, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was four. We prayed earnestly to our God to heal our child and we regularly sought the anointing of oil for him. After eight months of consistent development and behavior therapy sessions, in the re-assessment of my son’s condition, no sign of autism was found. My family firmly believes that it was our Lord God Who healed our child.

My son received another blessing from God, as two days after he celebrated his seventh birthday, he was able to personally meet and shake hands with the Executive Minister on the day of the pastoral visitation.

We were very thankful to our Lord God for the pastoral visitation because it marked the beginning of our congregation’s celebration of its 75th anniversary in June 2024. Despite the many trials and worries in this life, we, brethren in the Local Congregation of Sacramento, will continue enduring with an even stronger resolve to never relinquish our holy election and to strive even further as we draw closer to our salvation.

Blessed are those who keep their oath to God
Southern Ontario, Canada
By Jonaleen Kris-ann Legaspi

Half a decade. This is how far the Ecclesiastical District of Southern Ontario in Canada has reached in its remarkable journey. Originally a part of the former Canada II District, it became the District of Canada IV, which was then renamed Southern Ontario. Since its humble inception in 2018, the district has been blessed with countless triumphs.

With an abundance of blessings abounds, it is a daunting task to select even just a few to highlight. Yet, in the district’s five-year history, one significant blessing stands out—the unforgettable gift bestowed by God upon the district in 2022.

I was able to speak with Brother Jesse Anthony Bocobo, the former resident minister of the Local Congregation of Niagara Falls, in which I am registered. He is now the district edification overseer. We spoke about the trials the district has encountered. He recalled, “During the early years of the district, it was in need of more houses of worship because there was only one house of worship in the entire district back then.” He further shared, “First and foremost, we conducted devotional prayers seeking for the help of our Almighty God to solve such trials.”

In August 2022, our prayers were answered as the district, through the help of God, facilitated the acquisition of a place of worship in the historic city of Niagara Falls. This stands as one of the most wondrous blessings of the district.

Yet, another blessing has recently graced our beloved district. We had the privilege of witnessing the preaching of Brother Eduardo Manalo through videoconferencing when he led a worship service in the Local Congregation of Sacramento, in Makati, Philippines. This extraordinary event served as a memorable way for us to commemorate the district’s fifth anniversary—a true and cherished blessing.

As taught by our Executive Minister, we should not be surprised by the heavy trials and tribulations we will encounter as the Day of Judgment draws near. Instead of being taken aback by these challenges, we are encouraged to turn to God in prayer, placing our complete trust and hope in Him, for nothing is beyond His capabilities. As long as we remain faithful to our commitment to follow His commandments and fulfill our duties to Him, our prayers will be answered.

After that blessed worship service, I got the opportunity to interview Sister Venarose Alejo, current head secretary of the Local Congregation of St. Thomas. The lesson taught by our Executive Minister resonated on her as she and her family faced severe trials in 2021 upon arriving in Canada during the ongoing pandemic.

She shared, “When my husband and I tested positive for Covid-19, I was six months pregnant.” According to her, what initially appeared as typical back pain turned into her hospitalization due to pre-labor symptoms.

As a newcomer in Canada, with her work permit still in process, Sister Venarose did not have health insurance. This was among the struggles the couple needed to confront.

“I felt a lot of stress when I was about to give birth since I didn’t have insurance yet,” she shared. On top of that, her grandmother, who took care of her since childhood, passed away, and she was unable to go home to the Philippines due to travel restrictions.

Rather than losing hope, Sister Venarose remained steadfast in her conviction, placing her trust and hope in the Almighty God. Through sincere devotional prayers, God not only averted premature labor but also bestowed upon them health insurance, along with their work permits. “Because of this, we were able to prepare everything we needed prior to my delivery,” she said.

Sister Venarose’s story of conviction, as well as other brethren’s unwavering faith in God, has taught us that those who keep their oath to Him will surely be blessed. In the midst of trials, we can call unto Him and He will listen to us. And when we ask for something, He will grant our prayers as long as we keep our oath to Him—the promise to obey His will and faithfully fulfill our duties.

Waiting patiently for God’s answer
Lanao, Ilocos Norte
By Alwin Ray Suniga

Whether you are situated in the busiest cities, or in the quietest provinces like here in Northern Luzon, Philippines, there is no guarantee of a life safe and sound. Life here in this world, wherever you are, can be the opposite of peace. Trials, setbacks, hardships, and problems follow you around wherever you go.

Statistics and data come in accord with the idea that this world is rapidly turning into hopelessness. Many unusual things happen, posing threats of daunting difficulties to humankind. Poverty, hunger, violence, and diseases continue to eat up the hopes of the people.

However, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo are equipped with what they need to handle all these problems because they rely on the inspiration and encouragement given by the words of God, especially during worship services. Such was also evident as Brother Eduardo Manalo led the worship service at the Local Congregation of Sacramento, the same occasion our local congregation, Lanao, was blessed to witness through videoconferencing as it commemorated its 85th anniversary. It also coincided with the 85th anniversary as well of our ecclesiastical district—Laoag City, Ilocos Norte—on September 27.

Brother Eduardo Manalo, in his homily, reminded everyone how salient and powerful a prayer is, especially in dealing with the constant hardships of this life. He also taught that we should learn to pray with utmost faith, so that we won’t be carried away by these problems and we remain active members of the Church.

Sister Jasmine Vanessa Cascayan, my fellow youth member in the Church, shared her life story with me after the worship service, as she was moved by the lesson taught by the Executive Minister. She recounted, “In 2015, when I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with rheumatic heart fever. I often experienced chest pains, fatigue, and shortness of breath.”

At a very young age, Sister Jasmine learned to put her faith and trust in God through prayers. During those life-threatening situations, she believed that she was never alone, knowing that God is always watching over her. “When I heard what Brother Eduardo Manalo said about praying, I remember the situations when I was attacked by my illness. All I did and all I could do during those times was to fervently pray. I am so grateful to God because during such situations, He always hears me,” she said.

Sister Jasmine is currently fulfilling her duties as a choir member and an officer in the Children’s Worship Service (CWS).

“Whenever I am conducting my devotional prayers and whenever I am performing my duties, I always feel like a huge piece of my illness is being taken away from me,” she said. She conveyed that what gives her inspiration and what keeps her going in life despite her illness is the promise of our Lord God that He will not disregard the prayers of His righteous servants.

She said that the words of God taught by the Executive Minister will always be a reminder for her to pray with utmost faith whenever life gets hard. “No matter how my illness will turn out, I will never forsake fulfilling my duties to God. I will always pray to Him to free me from this illness and I will patiently wait for my prayers to be answered,” she added.