Leaning on God’s promises


FOR THE MEMBERS of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), upholding their divine election is what they prioritize most. The Lord God assured the faithful that amid the hardships they would encounter in this world, especially now that the end is truly near, as foretold in the prophecies written in the Scriptures, they have the hope of receiving His promised help and strength. And above these, they have the hope of receiving the promised salvation and life everlasting in the heavenly abode where they will live in eternal bliss.

Those promises are where the Church Of Christ members put their hopes on. That is what the Church Administration continuously reminds the Church members of. On December 2, 2022, in the worship service he officiated at the Local Congregation of Antipolo, Ecclesiastical District of Rizal, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister, exhorted the brethren to always lean on God’s promises whatever happens so that they will be able to remain active in their religious services until the end.

Church members from the 20 local congregations and group worship services that were celebrating their milestone anniversaries were also blessed to take part in the gathering via livestreaming. Brother Edwin B. Alcantara led the opening prayer. After the Bible-based preaching of the Executive Minister, Brother Romer D. Galang led the prayer. Brother Bienvenido C. Santiago said the benediction.

The following are some of the stories of faith of some attendees who have never doubted God, but instead, have always drawn inspiration from His promises:

The house of worship of the Local Congregation of Antipolo, Ecclesiastical District of Rizal

Antipolo, Rizal
By Lady Jo-An Llorin

Church members are not exempt from experiencing hardships but what helps them carry on is their divine right to seek help from the Almighty Father in heaven through prayers. It was reiterated by Brother Eduardo Manalo that there are prayers that God does not answer immediately, not because He did not listen to them, but because He knows when the right time is to answer.

This message resonated to Brother Gerald Francisco, 38, a Children’s Worship Service (CWS) teacher from the Local Congregation of Antipolo and an End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) survivor. “When I heard the preaching of our Executive Minister, I couldn’t help but think about what I had been through in the past and how our Almighty God had helped me,” he said.

Brother Gerald battled with Chronic Kidney Disease since 2006 even before he took oath as a CWS Teacher in 2008. He was later diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease in 2017. “It was not easy. It was physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially draining. I cannot find the right words to describe how painful it was for me to undergo dialysis, frequent hospitalizations, looking for kidney donors, and see how worried my family, especially my wife, was,” he added. 

This is a situation that would easily make a person lose hope and give up. But for Brother Gerald, he said: “I always believe that everything happens for a reason. So, no matter how much in pain I am, I never complain—I never ask God why. I just tell Him how much in pain I am and continuously ask for His guidance and strength, and that may He allow me to spend more time with my family, my wife, and my son. Most importantly, I still want to perform my Church duty.” 

Brother Gerald Francisco and his family

Aside from being hospitalized due to pneumonia, hypertension, stroke, and other complications, looking for a donor was the most exhausting part of his journey. “It was always mixed emotions, sometimes I got excited to know that there were people who would want to donate, but became disappointed because we were not compatible. There were also potential donors, but they could not fully commit simply because they were not ready. But never have I stopped praying.” Until one day, his younger sister approached him and told him that she was ready to give her own kidney to him. “It was heart stopping. I’ve been praying for that moment for a long time. I couldn’t explain how happy and nervous I am. Still, I prayed to God and asked for His guidance as I underwent kidney transplant.”

With God’s love and kindness, Brother Gerald was able to survive and recover and his sister has been in good condition as well. God showered him with blessings that were more than what he asked for. He gets to work again feeling good while performing his Church duty and God blessed them with another child. “Always obey God’s commandment and never complain. Continue to perform your services unto Him as much as you could. Never abandon Him as He would never abandon you. Always pray and trust Him and His promises,” he added. 

What happened to Brother Gerald is a testament that God never abandons His faithful people. That is why they should grow in faith and strengthen their connection with Him through prayers

Ilog National Hi-way, San Pablo City, Laguna
By Alfie Rhoy Punto

“We have always prayed to God that He constantly strengthen us and keep our hopes alive so we will be steadfast in our services to Him,” remarked Sister Salvacion Salafrania, 62. “We always trust in God’s promises, for we know that He, as the Executive Minister taught us, always fulfills what He has stated,” Sister Selita Salafrania, 69, added.

The Salafrania siblings are choir members in the Local Congregation of Ilog National Hi-way, Ecclesiastical District of San Pablo City, Laguna. Church members in the said local congregation were blessed to have witnessed through livestreaming the worship service officiated at by the Executive Minister on December 2, 2022. In the sacred gathering, Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded the brethren of the Almighty God’s promise that He will not forsake His people and that He never goes back on His promises.

A year ago, they faced with an ordeal they have never imagined. “We lost three of our siblings due to heart failures and aneurysm, and one of them suffered from stroke,” Sister Salvacion recalled. “Although we were saddened by their demise, we, however, never thought of blaming and asking the Lord God why that happened to our family,” Sister Selita further stated.

Sister Selita (left) and Sister Salvacion (right) Salafrania

During those times of grief, they drew strength from fulfilling their God-given duties. “Whenever we are in the choir loft singing hymns of praise to the Almighty God and to the Lord Jesus Christ, that is the time when we all the more feel that we are strengthened. It is also when we find peace in our hearts and minds. Performing our duties is what gives us joy amid the worries we face,” Sister Salvacion said. “We have remained strong and courageous despite the sorrows because God helps us. Although we, together with two of our sisters, are the only ones left in our family, we know that we have God by our side,” said Sister Selita.

The Salafrania sisters vow to remain active in fulfilling their duties. Sister Selita promised, “As long as we have life and strength, we will never forsake our Church duties.” Sister Salvacion added, “Our divine calling is what we consider as our treasure. For, we firmly believe that upholding our divine election until the end is what will bring us to the promised eternal life and salvation in the Holy City.”

Kidapawan City, Cotabato
Sinulat ni Floyd Surita

“Nagpapasalamat kami nang napakarami sa Diyos sapagkat ginagamit Niyang kasangkapan ang Pamamahala upang turuan at patibayin kami sa pananampalataya at lalong maging matatag sa panghahawak sa tungkuling aming tinanggap mula sa Kaniya.” Ito ang pahayag ni Kapatid na Gil Baroma, isa sa mga pangulong diakono sa Lokal ng Kidapawan City, Distrito ng Cotabato North, pagkatapos ng pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo, Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan ng Iglesia Ni Cristo, noong Disyembre 2, 2022 na nasaksihan ng mga kapatid sa kanilang lokal sa pamamagitan ng livestreaming.

Sa panahon ng pagsamba, hindi naiwasan ng mga kapatid na lingunin ang kanilang mga karanasan, lalo na nitong panahon ng pandemya. “Ang pangunahing ikinabubuhay namin ay pagtatanim ng mais. Nang dumating ang pandemya ay hindi kami makalabas bunga ng restrictions na ipinatutupad. Hindi na namin naasikaso ang aming mga pananim at nasira ang mga ito. Halos wala kaming naani noon,” pag-alaala ni Kapatid na Gil.

“Ngunit tulad ng ipinaalaala ng Namamahala sa pagsambang kaniyang pinangasiwaan, ang kahirapan ay hindi na natin dapat ipagtaka dahil ipinagpauna na ito ng Biblia. Tayong mga hinirang ay totoong daraan sa mga pagsubok para tayo ay dalisayin,” pahayag pa niya. Ang mga tiisin sa buhay ay tunay na mararanasan ng lahat, kabilang na ang mga kaanib ng Iglesia.

Kapatid na Gil Baroma

Subalit, may bentaha ang mga Iglesia Ni Cristo—sila ang makaaasa sa mga pangako ng Diyos. Gaya ng ipinahayag ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo sa pagsamba, ang Diyos ay may pangakong pagtulong sa buhay na ito pa lamang para sa mga tapat Niyang hinirang upang sila ay makapagtaguyod hanggang sa wakas at kamtin ang pangakong kaligtasan, ang buhay na walang hanggan, at ang pananahanan sa Bayang Banal.

Sa kabila ng mga naranasan nila, napatunayan ng sambahayan ni Kapatid na Gil na hindi sila pinabayaan ng Diyos. “Totoo ang ipinangako ng Diyos na kung ang mga hinirang Niya ay magtatapat, hindi Niya sila pababayaan. Nadarama ng sambahayan namin ang Kaniyang paglingap, ipinasusumpong Niya ang mga biyaya at ang aming mga pangangailangan kaya kami ay nakatatawid pa rin kahit mahirap,” saad ni Kapatid na Gil.

Bilang ama ng sambahayan, patuloy na pinangungunahan ni Kapatid na Gil ang kaniyang pamilya sa kanilang mga paglilingkod sa Diyos. “Ang aking maybahay ay diakonesa at ang aming anak naman ay mang-aawit. Sa kabila ng maaari pa naming maranasan ay mamamalagi kami sa pagtupad ng aming tungkulin,” pangako ni Kapatid na Gil.