God is truly pleased with His servants who fulfill His commandment to love our fellowmen as we love ourselves.
THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO (Church Of Christ) has been, for many years, extending help to the poor, especially to disaster and calamity victims. Its deep commitment to this task is anchored in God’s second most important commandment:
‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these two.” (Mark 12:30–31 Good News Bible)*
One of the ways we can prove our love for our fellowmen and brethren in the Church is by helping them in times of their need (I John 3:17). The Church’s Lingap sa Mamamayan (Aid for Humanity) program has benefited millions in the Philippines and abroad. This project involves distribution of food parcels and clothes; providing free medical and dental services to indigents; and doling out cash donations to disaster-stricken communities.
When a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake ravaged eastern Japan in 2011; when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in 2012; when massive flooding devastated homes in Bundaberg, Australia and when a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma in 2013—the Church was there to lend a helping hand.
In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda), the world’s strongest tropical cyclone on record, struck the Visayas region of the Philippines—leaving many casualties and damaged properties in its aftermath. To respond to the victims’ needs, hundreds of thousands of the Iglesia Ni Cristo members joined in the Worldwide Walk on February 15, 2014 for those affected. The beneficiaries of the charity walk were provided resettlement and livelihood projects (garment factory, eco-farm, and fish drying plant).
On May 6, 2018, the Church held the Worldwide Walk to Fight Poverty aimed at raising awareness to the socio-economic plight of our African fellowmen and inspiring altruism. But even prior to this, the Church has established two eco-farms in the continent to provide the brethren with self-sustainable means of livelihood. Through its Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, Inc., the Church embarks on these humanitarian projects in obedience to God’s command:
“There will always be poor people in the land, so I command you to give freely [open your hand] to your neighbors [or relatives; or countrymen; brothers] and to the poor and needy in your land.” (Deut. 15:11 Expanded Bible)*
God exhorts His people to open our hand to our countrymen and brethren in need. It is in this spirit that the Church launched “My Countrymen, My Brethren”—a community outreach that includes not only extending material assistance to the underprivileged but, above all, sharing with them God’s words. The Church conducted such outreach missions in King William’s Town, Ladybrand, Tembisa, and Manyatseng in South Africa; Maseru and Semonkong in Lesotho; Nairobi, Kenya; and Lusaka, Zambia that benefited tens of thousands of Africans—materially and spiritually.
Since April 2011, the Church has also been conducting INC Giving activities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Volunteer-brethren visit the sick and the elderly in care homes to brighten their day through the “Singing for a Cause” musical performances—all in the spirit of beneficence and altruism. Firefighters, policemen, teachers, and others who put their lives on the line in service of the community are given tokens of appreciation. The brethren also participate in blood donation drives, neighborhood cleanups, adopt-a-park programs, tree planting, and other humanitarian works that benefit the society at large.
Many Church Of Christ members themselves are counted among the poor, but this does not stop them from extending help to those in need. They know that every little help counts, and no help is too small that it cannot make a difference in the lives of so many in need. Doing so entails personal sacrifice, which they selflessly make—knowing how God is truly pleased with His servants who fulfill His commandment to love our fellowmen as we love ourselves:
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (Prov. 19:17 New International Version)
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine, June 2018 issue, and has been updated.