Scarborough, Greater Toronto, Canada 

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Never doubt God’s power

COMMEMORATION OF MILESTONE ANNIVERSARIES AND
DEDICATION OF SIX HOUSES OF WORSHIP
TEMPLO CENTRAL, QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES
SEPTEMBER 25, 2021

IN THE WORSHIP SERVICE he officiated on September 25, 2021, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, once again emphasized how powerful and effective prayer is in the life of God’s servants, especially in this time of great sorrow.

During the said holy occasion, Church members from one ecclesiastical district and 30 local congregations around the world, that were celebrating their respective milestone anniversaries, attended the worship service via live streaming. In addition, six houses of worship were simultaneously dedicated to God, bringing to a total of 164 houses of worship dedicated since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

Whenever trials and difficulties come into the lives of the brethren, it is God Whom they earnestly approach and confidently trust in. The following accounts prove how He guided and helped His humble servants because they did not doubt His power.


Scarborough, Greater Toronto, Canada 
By Persita Bungque

“I hold my devotional prayers inside the house of worship. Whenever challenges arise, I ask for God’s mercy to strengthen my family. I become stronger when I pray because I feel the presence of God,” said Brother Rogen de Tomas, a deacon in the Local Congregation of Scarborough, Ecclesiastical District of Greater Toronto in Canada.

The house of worship has played a big part in the life of Brother Rogen, especially since 2007, when he started living away from his family in the Philippines. It is in the house of worship where he seeks guidance and protection from God for him and his family. In November 2013, Brother Rogen’s wife and son in Batad, Iloilo were not spared by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

He became extremely worried knowing that his wife and son were homeless for two days before they were rescued because their house was washed away by flood. “Due to that distressing situation, my son, who was supposed to be celebrating his birthday that day, was traumatized. He eventually needed professional assistance,” Brother Rogen recalled. “Years later, my wife was diagnosed with chronic anemia that required hospitalization.”

He felt hopeless because he could not be with them right away to help them and look after them during those trying times. But Brother Rogen entrusted everything to God and continued performing his duty. With God’s help, aside from having a new house built for his family, he shared, “My wife was healed from her illness and my son recovered from his trauma.”


Sapang Tagalog, Tarlac
Sinulat ni Ivy Mercado

“Nakakalimutan ko ang ilang mga bagay o pangyayari sa loob ng maiksing panahon,” ayon kay Kapatid na Angelina Miranda. Noong 2013, na-diagnose ng isang neurologist na si Kapatid na Angelina ay may temporary memory loss.

Dahil sa kaniyang kondisyon, may mga pagkakataong nahihirapan siya sa pagtupad ng tungkulin bilang tagapagturo ng awit sa Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Tarlac City, Tarlac. Upang hindi ito mapinsala, pansamantala siyang nagpahinga sa pagtupad upang magpagaling.

Nalilimutan man ni Kapatid na Angelina ang ilang bagay sa kaniyang buhay, subalit may isang mahalagang bagay para sa kaniya na laging nakatanim sa kaniyang puso—ang lubos na pagtitiwala sa Diyos. Kaya, namamalagi siyang nagtatalaga sa pagsamba at pananalangin. “Kahit na ang alaala ko ay nagla-lapse, hindi ko nalilimutan na manalangin sa Diyos. Kaya, ako at ang aking pamilya ay hindi tumigil sa araw-araw na pagpapanata,” sabi niya. 

Ang ganitong paninindigan ang itinuro ni Kapatid na Angelina at ng kaniyang asawa na si Kapatid na Eraño, pangulong diakono sa Lokal ng Sapang Tagalog, sa kanilang mga anak mula nang sila ay bata pa. “Namulat silang may panata kami araw-araw. Sa paglaki nila hanggang sa nagkaroon ng kani-kaniyang pamilya at saan man silang bansa naninirahan ngayon, nagpapanata sila sa kapilya.”

Sa kasalukuyan, sa tulong at kapangyarihan ng Diyos, unti-unti nang gumagaling si Kapatid na Angelina. Tumutupad na siyang muli ng kaniyang tungkulin at payapang naitataguyod ang kaniyang mga paglilingkod sa Diyos.


Pansol-Calauag, Quezon
By Gleizel Autor

Through prayers, God’s servants develop a positive mindset, which is essential in fulfilling His commands amid difficulties.

“We always pray to God, most especially in the house of worship because this is where we draw our strength. Because if not for God, how can we get through the crisis?” said Sister Anecia Bermejo, a deaconess, whose food crop business experienced instability when the pandemic struck.

Meanwhile, praying has been instilled since childhood in Brother Mark Christian Alarcio, a choir leader and KADIWA congregation president. He recalled, “My parents taught me that prayer is a grace and a right given by God to His chosen ones.”

Even from the taunting effects of the pandemic, brethren continue submitting to God’s plans by steadfastly fulfilling their duties. “I grow stronger as I entrust everything to God. I am strengthened to face the problems not only to provide for my family, but, most especially, to continue our services to God,” said Sister Lolina Alarcio, Brother Mark’s mother who is a finance officer.

Just like others, the lives of the brethren in the Local Congregation of Pansol-Calauag, Ecclesiastical District of Quezon East may have been affected by the pandemic, but their trust in God’s power remained unshaken. They show it through their constant prayers. By God’s grace, their house of worship was among those dedicated to God in the worship service officiated by Brother Eduardo Manalo via videoconferencing.


Lamo, Nueva Vizcaya
By Tristan Mendoza

Over the years, it has been proven in the lives of the brethren in the Local Congregation of Lamo, Ecclesiastical District of Nueva Vizcaya, that God never abandons His faithful children. The local congregation reached its 80th anniversary in September 2021.

Brother Tennyson Nariz, a tricycle driver, was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Despite the hardships, we can still feel God’s blessings by surviving each day of our lives and upholding our duties in the Church,” he said.

Their family all the more received the wondrous blessings from God when his two sons decided to join the holy ministry. “Amid all hardships and trials, we are able to support my sons in their studies. With God’s mercy, they finally graduated and took oath as regular ministerial workers in 2020 and 2021, respectively.” 

Brother Tennyson continues remaining rooted in God’s words that guide him and his family in leading the Christian way of life and in fulfilling his God-given duty as a head deacon. “Even though we encounter problems, especially now that we are in a pandemic, I will stand firmly in what God has promised, that He will guide us in our journey.”

Throughout his life, his faith in what God can do for him has inspired him to be obedient no matter what the circumstances are.


Lucanin, Bataan
Sinulat ni Gemma Lyn Lalic

Si Kapatid na Crizalyn Cantos ay nagtatrabaho sa isang pabrika sa Mariveles, Bataan. Subalit nang dumating ang pandemya, isa siya sa mga nawalan ng hanapbuhay dahil kinailangang magbawas ng trabahador ang kumpaniyang kaniyang pinapasukan.

Dahil siya ang inaasahan ng kaniyang ina na nag-aalaga sa isa niyang kapatid na maysakit, nabalisa siya kung saan kukuha ng pantustos sa pang-araw-araw. “May mga nakikita ako sa internet na wari ay solusyon sa aking problema,” aniya. Subalit nakita niyang ang ilan sa mga ito ay hindi ayon sa aral ng Diyos at makapipinsala sa pagtupad ng kaniyang tungkulin.

Bilang isang Iglesia Ni Cristo, sinasampalatayanan ni Kapatid na Crizalyn na kung mayroon mang higit na dapat niyang pag-ukulan ng buong pag-asa ay walang iba kundi ang Diyos. “Sinabi ng Ama na kung tayo ay may lubos na pagkakatiwala sa Kaniya sa panahon ng kaligaligan ay ililigtas Niya tayo,” pahayag niya. Ang tungkulin niya sa pananalapi at pagiging pangulong KADIWA sa Lokal ng Lucanin ay nagbibigay-lakas sa kaniya. Aniya, “Pinagtatalagahan ko ang pagtupad ng tungkulin sapagkat doon ako nakakakuha ng katatagan at kaaliwan.”

Kaya, nang malaman niyang ibabalik na muli ang pagsasagawa ng pagsamba sa loob ng bahay sambahan sa kanilang lokal, lalo niya itong kinasabikan. Ang bagong bahay sambahan sa lokal nila ay kasamang itinalaga sa Diyos ng Namamahala. “Sa kabila ng mga hirap na nararanasan natin sa mundo, patuloy namang natatanyag ang Iglesia Ni Cristo. Isang katunayan nito ay ang pagpapatayo ng mga bagong kapilya,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Crizalyn.


Arlöv, Sweden
By Franceska Heiskanen

With the constant turmoil in this world, many people tend to seek advice and comfort from others—at times even from total strangers—to somehow ease their burden. Sister Katya Heiskanen, a Binhi officer from the Arlöv, Sweden GWS, Ecclesiastical District of Northern Sweden, has also seen this trend, especially among her fellow teenagers. She shared, “People of this world turn to online sources for answers or validation regarding their concerns.”

As taught by Brother Eduardo Manalo, God’s people should rely, more than anything else, on the teachings of God that are constantly taught by the Church Administration. This is the reason Sister Katya, whenever faced with tribulations, remains rooted in the Christian values that have been instilled in her. She may hear different views from others on a situation, but she stands her ground on the true faith: “At the end of the day, the advice that truly matters is that of God. As members of the Church, we are privileged to know God’s truth. So, when I feel troubled and I need answers, I turn to God and what He teaches that is written in the Bible.”

The same conviction is exemplified by her older brother, Franco, a KADIWA officer. He understands that struggles and hardships are also being experienced by Church members, and it is not something that they should be surprised of. Thus, he firmly said, “We cannot be weak. We should be even more determined to remain strong and steadfast in the faith.”


Talisay, Batangas
Sinulat ni Caress Agatha Quintana

Ang bayan ng Talisay ay mahigit sa 20 kilometro lamang ang layo mula sa Bulkang Taal. Kaya nang pumutok ito noong Enero 2020, kasama ang Talisay sa mga dako sa paligid ng lawa ng Taal na naging mapanganib ang kalagayan.

Dahil dito, ang dakong pinagtatrabahuhan ni Kapatid na Jonathan Soriano ay nalipat mula sa Talisay, Batangas papunta sa probinsiya ng Quezon. Malayo man ang lugar ng kaniyang hanapbuhay, hindi niya pinabayaan ang paglilingkod niya sa Panginoong Diyos. Umuuwi siya nang dalawang beses sa isang linggo sa Batangas sa mga araw na may pagsamba. Si Kapatid na Jonathan ay isa sa mga pangulong diakono sa Lokal ng Talisay, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Batangas North.

Lalong tumindi ang naranasan nilang pagsubok nang dumating ang pandemya. “Nangalahati ang mga inaalagaan naming mga isda sa fish cages sa Taal Lake kaya nagkaroon ng re-organization ang aming kompanya. Isa ako sa mga napiling ilipat sa Pangasinan,” aniya. Ngunit dahil alam niyang makaaapekto ito sa pagtupad niya ng tungkulin, hindi siya nag-alinlangan na umalis sa kaniyang trabaho. Bilang tugon sa kaniyang mga panalangin, biniyayaan ng Diyos si Kapatid na Jonathan ng panibagong mapagkakakitaan.

At ngayon sa pagkakaroon nila ng bagong bahay sambahan, lalong itinataguyod ng kaniyang pamilya ang paglapit sa Ama, lakip ang pasasalamat. “Patuloy ang gabi-gabing pagpapanata ng aming sambahayan, ngayon sa bagong bahay sambahan, para magpasalamat sa Diyos at ilapit sa Kaniya ang aming mga pangangailangan,” wika niya.

Talisay, Batangas

Central London, United Kingdom
By Eleanor Rivera

After his father passed away in August 2009, Brother Jeff Vincent Santiago, who was still a teenager then, felt lost and outcast. As an adolescent, he longed for his father’s guidance while he faced peer pressure. “Many people mocked me because of my race and my being poor. As a result, I became a troublemaker,” he shared.

But when he was introduced into the Church Of Christ in 2012, Brother Jeff felt he found a new home, especially when he started attending the Bible studies on doctrines: “I started to realize that this might be the second chance that God was giving me.” However, his mother and relatives persecuted him at first. “No one believed me because they looked at me as a young person trying to rebel and just seeking for attention,” he recalled.

As Brother Jeff pursued his membership and learned that it is indeed the true Church, he gradually changed for the better. He shared, “I became calmer and well-behaved, as well as motivated to study. My mother’s attitude towards me also changed. We became closer and never argued with each other again. Finally, she allowed me to become a Church member. After a year, I was able to convince her to attend the worship services and Bible studies, and eventually be baptized.”

Now a Children’s Worship Service (CWS) officer in the Local Congregation of Central London, Ecclesiastical District of United Kingdom, Brother Jeff pondered what Brother Eduardo Manalo taught in his homily about the importance of renewing one’s life and being prayerful. “My reason to leave my old way of life and make all the changes was faith,” he said. As he reminisced, having the right to pray to God was a big part that was missing in his life when he was not yet a member of the Church Of Christ. He expressed, “I am thankful that I can now always pray to God and ask for His guidance.”


Dangdangla, La Union
Sinulat ni Narra Estonanto

Sa isang barangay sa San Juan, La Union ay matatagpuan ang isang bago at magandang bahay sambahan ng Lokal ng Dangdangla, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng La Union. Kabilang ito sa itinalaga sa Diyos ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo sa pagsambang kanilang pinangasiwaan sa pamamagitan ng live streaming.

Lubos na nagpapasalamat sa Diyos ang mga kapatid dahil pinagkalooban Niya sila ng bagong kapilya kung saan nila patuloy na maisasagawa ang payapang pagsamba at pananalangin sa Kaniya. Mahalaga ito sa mga kaanib ng Iglesia, tulad ni Kapatid na Lian Abat, pangalawang pangulong mang-aawit, sapagkat sa kapilya niya higit na nararanasan ang kapangyarihan ng Diyos na nagpapalakas sa kaniya, lalo na kapag dumaraan siya sa mga pagsubok.

“Noong 2018, naoperahan ang aking asawa dahil nagkaroon siya ng komplikasyon sa tiyan,” salaysay ni Kapatid na Lian. Ang kaniyang asawa lamang ang naghahanapbuhay noon bilang construction worker at siya naman ang nag-aasikaso sa kanilang mga anak na nag-aaral. Ngunit kinailangan na rin niyang maghanapbuhay upang may maipambili ng gamot ang kaniyang asawa at pantustos sa araw-araw nilang pangangailanagan.

“Nagdedeliber ako ng aking mga paninda sa mga bus station. Subalit noong magsimula ang pandemya ay wala na ring bus na pwedeng pagpadalhan ng aking paninda kaya natigil ang aking pagtitinda,” salaysay ni Kapatid na Lian.

Sa harap ng mga pagsubok, isa sa mga pinanghahawakan niya ay ang kaniyang mga isinasagawang pananalangin sa Diyos. “Dahil sa napakalapit na ng Araw ng Paghuhukom, lagi kaming nananalangin upang huwag kaming makabitiw, kundi makayanan namin ang lahat ng mga bagay na masasagupa dito sa mundo,” aniya.


West Las Vegas, Nevada
By Neil Patrick Dadis

Brother Eduardo Manalo continues reminding the brethren of the importance of being dedicated to the worship services. These trying times should not hinder the faithful from fulfilling their services to God.

Pondering on these teachings of God, Sister Rose Ann Esteban, a choir leader in the Local Congregation of West Las Vegas, Nevada, said, “The biblical lessons keep our minds focused on obeying God and not getting distracted by this world. This gives us hope on the grace and the promised salvation that will be ours.” In the face of difficult situations, her conviction remains firm: “Our Almighty God will listen to our prayers and answer them. He will also provide the things we need, including His protection, especially through these times.”

Meanwhile, Sister Monica Flores, the KADIWA congregation president, explained, “The true faith instilled in us is our weapon in facing the wickedness and harms in this world. Through our faith, we see and feel God’s blessings in our everyday lives. Our faith is what will keep us on the right path, which is towards our salvation.”

As members of the Church Of Christ whose ultimate goal is to reach the promised salvation, Sisters Rose and Monica’s faith allows them to surmount the temptations and worries in this world.   


Bagacay, Camarines Sur 
Sinulat ni Carmela Joy Lucena

Sa paglipas ng maraming taon, ang Iglesia Ni Cristo sa Lokal ng Bagacay, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Naga City, Camarines Sur ay patuloy sa paglago. Kaya, kinailangan ang mas malaking dako na mapagsasagawaan ng pagsamba sa Diyos ng mga kaanib doon. Saksi si Kapatid na Amelia Lucena, isa sa mga pinakamatagal na kaanib sa lokal, kung paano tinulungan ng Diyos ang mga kapatid na malampasan ang mga pagsubok.

Nang masaksihan niya ang pagtatalaga ng bagong bahay sambahan, ang sabi niya, “Isa itong katuparan ng matagal nang pangarap.”

“Sa madalas na pagkakataon, ang dakong ito ay inaabot ng pagbaha kapag umuulan,” pahayag pa ni Kapatid na Amelia, na tumutupad bilang pangulong mang-aawit at ingat-yaman ng lokal.

Sa kabila niyaon, ni minsan ay hindi napahadlang ang mga kapatid sa kanilang mga pagsamba at mga gawang paglilingkod. Sila ay namalaging tapat sa tungkulin at lubos na pagsunod sa mga kalooban ng Diyos. Nagpatuloy ang lokal sa pakikipagkaisa sa Pamamahala sa gawaing pagpapalaganap at nakapagbunga sila ng tatlong extension: Tinambac, Canayonan (na ngayon ay lokal na), at ang Cabanbanan.

Sa tulong ng Diyos at sa Kaniyang pagdinig sa mga panalangin ng mga kapatid, sila ay napagkalooban ng isang bagong bahay sambahan kung saan nila patuloy na maisasagawa ang payapang pagsamba at paglilingkod sa Kaniya. “Napakahalaga ng gusaling sambahan sapagkat dito Niya dinirinig ang pagtawag ng Kaniyang mga anak. Anumang pagsubok at suliranin na aming kinakaharap, sa dakong ito kami tutungo upang humingi ng gabay at patnubay ng Diyos,” saad ni Kapatid na Amelia.


Hamilton, New Zealand
By Carmiliza Manalaysay

In the hopes of having a better life for his family, Brother Oriel Cuenco left the Philippines and went to New Zealand in 2007. His first few years of stay in a foreign land was very difficult. “I jumped from one job to another, taking up courses to improve my qualifications and enduring trials,” he shared.

Although away from his family, Brother Oriel overcame the feeling of being alone by actively fulfilling duties in the Church. “Having faith in God and serving Him with all my heart and soul is essential. Whatever problems and trials I encounter, I always see to it that I attend the worship services and perform my Church duties,” he said.

God’s love manifests in His servants who are sincerely serving Him. This, Brother Oriel proved, when he received what he had been praying for: “I have secured a permanent job as a teacher, received my permanent residency, and finally became a citizen of New Zealand in 2016.” Currently, with the help of God, Brother Oriel’s family is now with him and have gained their permanent residency and citizenship as well.

As a deacon and the Society of Communicators and Networkers International (SCAN) president of the Local Congregation of Hamilton, Ecclesiastical District of New Zealand, Brother Oriel attests to how brotherly love continues abounding in the hearts of the brethren. “God uses each of us to help each other. He also continues guiding us and providing all our spiritual needs throughout the years.”


Tayabas, Quezon
Sinulat ni Shierelyn Barrion

“Noong 1998, nabangga ng bus ang motorsiklo na sinasakyan ng aking asawa,” pag-aalaala ni Kapatid na Bastiana Ante. “Nang isugod siya sa ospital, naratnan ko siyang walang malay at duguan.” Dahil sa malubhang pinsala na natamo, kinailangan ng kaniyang asawa na manatili sa ospital at umabot ito ng halos isang buwan.

Noong panahong iyon, lalong pinatunayan ni Kapatid na Bastiana ang kaniyang pagtitiwala sa Diyos sa pamamagitan ng pagpapanata at laging pagsunod sa Kaniyang mga kalooban. “Hindi ko pinabayaan ang aking pagsamba at pagtupad ng tungkulin. Napakahalaga nito sa akin sa kabila ng mga pagsubok sa buhay sapagkat ang Diyos lamang ang tanging makatutulong sa akin,” aniya. Sa awa at tulong ng Diyos, lubusan nang gumaling ang kaniyang asawa at patuloy na tumutupad ng tungkulin nito bilang diakono.

Sa patuloy pa na pagdating ng mga pagsubok sa kanilang buhay, hindi pinabayaan ni Kapatid na Bastiana at ng kaniyang sambahayan ang paglilingkod sa Diyos. “Kailanman ay hindi ako bumitiw sa aking tungkulin na sinumpaan sa Diyos. Sanay akong magdanas ng kahirapan, subalit ayaw kong masanay na wala sa pagtupad,” paninindigan niya. Sa kasalukuyan, siya ay isang diakonesa at maytungkulin sa kagawaran ng pananalapi sa Lokal ng Tayabas, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Quezon.


Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Sorsogon
Sinulat ni Markson Mejia

Pitong taon na ang nakalipas ngunit sariwa pa rin sa alaala ni Kapatid na Jomelyn Dador, kalihim ng lokal at guro sa Pagsamba Ng Kabataan, ang hirap na kanilang naranasan nang ang kanilang inuupahang bahay ay nawasak ng bagyong Glenda. “Wala na kaming ibang matutuluyan dahil hindi agad ito naipagawa ng may-ari. Wala rin kaming sapat na pera noon para maghanap ng bagong mauupahang bahay,” sabi niya.

Sa ganoong pagkakataon, hindi nag-alinlangan si Kapatid na Jomelyn sa magagawa ng Diyos, na siya at ang kaniyang ina ay tulungan sa mabigat na pagsubok na iyon. “Kapag dumaraan ako sa mga suliranin, alam kong paraan ito ng Ama para subukin ang aking pananampalataya. Ito rin ang napakagandang pagkakataon para patunayan ko na sa Kaniya lang ako nagtitiwala at sa Kaniya ko inihahabilin ang aking buhay at kapalaran.”

Gumamit ang Diyos ng kasangkapan upang sila ay pagkalooban ng pansamantalang matutuluyan noon. “Hindi kami binigo ng Diyos. Ang nakatutuwa pa ay ilang hakbang lang ang bahay mula sa gusaling sambahan,” sabi ni Kapatid na Jomelyn.

Gaya ng itinuro ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo, patuloy na naging dedikado sa pagtupad ng tungkulin si Kapatid na Jomelyn. Itinataguyod din niya ang mga pananalangin sa Diyos. Wika niya, “Kapag may pagsubok, nagagalak ako sapagkat nararamdaman ko sa aking puso na pinalalakas Niya ako at nakahanda Siyang ako ay saklolohan. Lagi naming tatandaan na makatarungan ang Diyos na ating pinaglilingkuran at kailanman hindi Niya lilimutin ang ating mga pagpapagal.”

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