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Remaining courageous
amid extraordinary times


TO THE MEMBERS of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), even the escalation of harsh and worrisome events is not surprising anymore because they have been taught that the Bible foretold long before that these would indeed happen as the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ approaches. And more than just reminding them of this truth, the Church Administration encourages and inspires them to hold on more firmly to their membership in Christ’s true Church so as to be saved by Him on the Day of Judgment.

On April 15, 2022, in the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister at the Local Congregation of Parañaque, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila South, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo exhorted his brethren in the faith to take courage, remain faithful and trusting in God, and be firm and steadfast in their divine election amid these extraordinary times.

Brother Diosdado F. Dades, district supervising minister, led the opening prayer, while Brother Romer D. Galang said the closing prayer after the preaching of the Executive Minister. During the occasion, 29 ministerial workers were ordained as ministers of the Church. Brother Arnel R. Canicosa led the prayer after the laying on of hands by the Executive Minister. The worship service was also witnessed via livestreaming by the Church members from other local congregations that are commemorating their milestone anniversaries.

God makes a way for His faithful servants
Parañaque City, Metro Manila
By Margarita Francesca Sia-Madelo

“God is always there to help us, especially when there are many trials and problems,” said Sister Erlinda Pabayo, a deaconess and finance officer in the Local Congregation of Parañaque, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila South.

Having been blessed to attend the worship service and the ordination of new ministers officiated by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, in their local congregation, Sister Erlinda remembers what she and her family, especially her son, had gone through.

“It was in 1993 when Liftgarrett was still two years old. He became severely ill,” she shared. Back then, they were in Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental and her husband worked in Metro Manila. “As members of the Church Of Christ, we have been taught to always trust in God. So, before going to the hospital, we went to the house of worship first to pray to God and to have our son anointed with oil,” she said.

After almost a week in the hospital, her son eventually recovered and was discharged. “Even if we were going through trying times back then, we were able to overcome what we had gone through because of God’s help,” said Sister Erlinda.

Sister Erlinda Pabayo

To firmly trust in and actively serve God are what she and her husband have always taught their children. “We have taught them to never stop conducting their devotional prayers to God. We have also taught them the importance of holding a Church duty. That is why they are all Church officers. And in 2009, my son Liftgarrett decided to study in the holy ministry,” Sister Erlinda shared.

“At first, we thought that we would not be able to support him until he graduates because we were struggling to make both ends meet,” Sister Erlinda said. But firmly believing in what God can do for them, coupled with their hard work, they were able to support his studies. “Every night, we had our devotional prayers. We remained steadfast in performing our duties. We also strove hard to earn a living in a clean and decent manner. And we truly felt that it is God Who has always made a way for us.” With God’s help, Brother Liftgarrett was able to finish his studies and took oath as a ministerial worker in April 2015.

It is indeed a joy for Iglesia Ni Cristo parents to know that their children are nurtured in faith—true and faithful servants of God. As parents, they have peace of mind that wherever their children go, God will never forsake them. That is why Sister Erlinda promised, “As long as I still have my life and strength, I will continue reminding my family, my children and my grandchildren, too, in every way I can and make sure that they remain active in serving Him until the end.”

God strengthens His people in trying times
Niugan, Cabuyao City, Laguna
By Leizl Prado

When problems come to the lives of Church Of Christ members, these are times when their faith is put to the test. But as God’s people, they do not give up. “I felt miserable when I lost my job. But as the head of the household, it is my responsibility to provide for my family. So, I tried hard to work on several jobs to provide for my family’s needs. But I struggled to find a stable job,” said Brother Narcissus Banaticla, head deacon in the Local Congregation of Niugan, Ecclesiastical District of Calamba City, Laguna.

Through those trying times, he drew strength from the Almighty God. “There was never a moment that I neglected the worship service,” Brother Narcissus attested, “What Brother Eduardo Manalo taught us is very true. We receive God’s promised help in our worship services. God guides us in the way we should go.”

As true Church Of Christ members would do in the face of difficulties, he proved his faithfulness to God. “I put my trust in God through my devotional prayers. I fervently asked for His help. I also accepted a Church duty in our local congregation and I also encouraged my wife to do so,” he said.

Brother Narcissus Banaticla

Going through that experience made Brother Narcissus realize that, indeed, God heeds the prayers of His servants and grants their aspirations in life. “A great opportunity came when we were offered to be a subcontractor of one of the companies where I formerly worked. With God’s help, we were able to establish our own business,” Brother Narcissus shared. “The Almighty Father answered our prayers.”

No matter what situation they are in, true members of the Church Of Christ will remain standing firmly and determined in upholding their God-given election. They steadfastly believe what Brother Eduardo Manalo taught in the worship service that those who worship God sincerely and continually are truly blessed, for they are certain of receiving not only God’s promises in this life but, above all, the eternal grace that God intends for His true and faithful servants.

Brother Narcissus promised, “I vow to continue serving God wholeheartedly and guide my family in doing so. Whatever happens, we will always treasure our sacred calling and make our Church duties our top priority.”

God listens to our pleas 
Cebu City, Cebu
By Jiezel Mae Chavez

Despite being faced with challenges and persecutions, Church Of Christ members ought to continue serving God and remain confident in their trust in Him so as to receive His favors that they aspire for. Many Church members attest to this, one of whom is Sister Era Ponce Augusto, the KADIWA district president of Cebu City, Cebu Ecclesiastical District and a choir member and finance officer in the Local Congregation of Mactan. She said, “Passing the bar exam was an unforgettable experience because despite the trials, the Father gave me the victory by answering my prayers.”

Even while preparing for the exam, she could not just let the days go by without attending to KADIWA-related concerns, coordinating with her co-officers in the district, and handling meetings with them, especially when they were in the midst of intensively preparing for their ecclesiastical district’s 85th anniversary celebration. Not only was her leadership put to the test but also her perseverance and patience. Sister Era, however, as a member of the Church Of Christ, has tremendous trust that God will never abandon her because she is doing everything according to His will and prioritizing her sacred obligations over personal concerns.        

Sister Era Ponce Augusto

Despite her hectic schedule and the sleepless nights, Sister Era proved that devotedly fulfilling one’s Church duties was never a burden to attaining one’s dreams in life. “One of my inspirations is my role and sacred duty as the KADIWA district president. I believe that this success will be a way to further inspire my fellow KADIWA members and be a good example for them to realize that fulfilling our Church duties is never a hindrance to achieving success in life,” Sister Era added, as she recalls the preparations she did for the bar exam while also fulfilling her duties and responsibilities in the Church.

“My heart is overflowing with joy and thankfulness to God, and I am grateful to Brother Eduardo Manalo for his dynamic leadership of the Church in the path of salvation, as well as the extensive activities he launches in all Christian Family Organizations, which genuinely encourage and inspire us,” Sister Era said.

Tunay na maligaya at may mabuting kapalaran 
Cagayan East
Sinulat ni Allan Jan Vega

Sa pagsapit ng Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Cagayan East sa ika-75 anibersaryo ng pagkakatatag nito noong Abril 10, hindi maiwasan ng mga kaanib ng Iglesia sa distritong ito na lumingon sa kanilang mga nasagupa sa mga nagdaang taon.

“Malalakas na bagyo, mga pag-uusig, at karamdaman. Lahat ng iyan ay naranasan ko, pati pa ng aking pamilya,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Herman Cardenas, pangulong diakono sa Lokal ng Sta. Clara. “Subalit patuloy na tinuturuan tayo ng Pamamahala na manghawak palagi sa magagawa ng Ama sa pamamagitan ng pananalangin.”

Taong 2019, na-stroke si Kapatid na Herman na naging sanhi ng pagkaparalisa ng kalahating bahagi ng kaniyang katawan. Ngunit hindi ito naging dahilan upang siya ay tumigil sa pagtupad ng kaniyang tungkulin. Bagaman hirap sa pagtayo at paglakad ay nagsikap pa rin siyang makatugon sa tawag ng tungkulin.

Kapatid na Herman Cardenas at kaniyang asawa

Sa sumunod na taon ay muli siyang inatake. Nagpalubha ito sa kaniyang kalagayan, na naging dahilan para hindi na siya makalakad nang mag-isa at naka-wheelchair na lamang. Bagaman nabawasan na ang lakas at sigla ng kaniyang pisikal na katawan ay patuloy pa rin siya sa kaniyang paglilingkod sa Diyos, taglay ang kaligayahan sa kaniyang puso. “May panahon talaga na mahihirapan tayo sa pagdadala ng buhay ngunit hindi nito dapat mahadlangan ang ating mga paglilingkod,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Herman.

Sa kabila ng mahihirap na karanasan, hindi dahilan ang mga ito upang mawalan ng pag-asa ang mga tunay na hinirang ng Diyos. Tulad ng itinuro ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo sa pagsamba, bagaman ang mga tunay na lingkod ng Diyos ay dumaraan sa matitinding pagsubok, sila ay magiging mapalad, maligaya, at magkakaroon ng mabuting kapalaran kung patuloy silang manghahawak sa kanilang banal na kahalalan.

“Ipinangako ko na sa Diyos na patuloy kong gagamitin ang aking buhay sa paglilingkod sa Kaniya sapagkat lubos akong sumasampalataya na pagdating ng takdang araw ay may gantimpalang inilalaan sa atin,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Herman.

Hindi kailanman susuko
Tipas, Taguig City
Sinulat ni Shane March Ibuyat

Para sa isang ina, lubhang napakahirap mawalan ng katuwang sa pagtataguyod ng pamilya. Labis na kapighatian ang dinanas ni Kapatid na Margarita Casanova nang pumanaw ang kaniyang asawa dahil sa isang car accident noong 1998 at maiwang mag-isa sa pagtataguyod ng kanilang mga anak. “Nang mamatay ang aking asawa, maliliit pa ang aming mga anak at ang bunso ay walong buwan pa lamang,” paglalahad niya.

Sa kabila ng matinding kalungkutan, ayon kay Kapatid na Margarita, “Hinarap ko nang may buong pagtitiyaga ang pagtataguyod sa aming mga anak. Itinaguyod ko sila sa kanilang pag-aaral. Pinalaki ko sila sa pananampalataya at ginabayan sa tunay na paglilingkod sa Diyos sa loob ng Iglesia. Patuloy kaming nagpakasigla sa aming mga pagsamba.”

Kahit na siya ay abala sa kaniyang pagtatrabaho at pag-aasikaso sa kaniyang mga anak, hindi ito naging dahilan upang hindi siya humawak ng tungkulin. Sa kasalukuyan, si Kapatid na Margarita ay tumutupad bilang diakonesa at pangulo ng lupon sa Pananalapi sa Lokal ng Tipas. “Pinagsisikapan kong magampanan ang bawat bahagi ng aking mga tungkulin, akay ng pag-ibig, at pananampalataya,” dagdag pa niya.

Kapatid na Margarita Casanova

Sa pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo, ang isa sa kaniyang mga binigyang-diin ay ang tungkol sa pagiging mapalad ng mga kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo. Dumating man ang mga pagsubok, kapighatian, at kaligaligan ay nasa kanila ang proteksiyon ng Diyos. Ito ang paninindigan ni Kapatid na Margarita.

Tunay na hindi pinababayaan ng Diyos ang mga lingkod Niyang hindi sumusuko, mabigat man ang pinagdaraanan sa buhay. Sa kanilang patuloy na paninindigan ay kakamtin nila ang mga pagpapalang mula sa Kaniya. Karanasan ito ni Kapatid na Margarita.

Ayon sa kaniya, “Lalo naming naramdaman ang paglingap ng Ama. Unti-unting yumabong ang aming kabuhayan. Mula sa pagiging empleyado ay niloob Niyang makapagtayo ang aming pamilya ng sariling negosyo. Ibayong pagpapala ang aming tinatanggap mula sa Diyos na nagagamit namin hindi lamang para sa aming pamilya kundi lalo na sa mga paglilingkod sa Kaniya.”

Napakaraming pangyayari sa mundo at mga karanasan ang nagdudulot sa tao ng kawalang pag-asa na nagiging dahilan upang sumuko. Ngunit ang mga kaanib ng Iglesia ay magpapatuloy sa paglilingkod sa Diyos anuman ang mangyari, yayamang may pangako ang Diyos hindi lamang sa buhay na ito kundi, higit sa lahat, sa buhay na darating.

Tinawag sa tunay na paglilingkod
Puerto Rivas, Bataan
Sinulat ni Darling De Leon

Naaalaala pa ni Kapatid na JR Dizon ang mga panahong siya ay hindi pa kaanib ng Iglesia. Sa pagsapit ng anibersaryo ng Lokal ng Puerto Rivas, kasabay nito ay ang pagdaraos ng mga Katoliko ng tinatawag nilang Semana Santa o Mahal na Araw. “Hindi ko malilimutan ang araw kung kailan ako tinawag ng Panginoong Diyos sa loob ng tunay na Iglesia Ni Cristo,” pahayag ni Kapatid na JR, isang dating debotong Katoliko at nang-usig pa noon sa mga kaanib ng Iglesia.

“Nakatakda ako noong magpapako sa krus … Ngunit, ang isa sa aking mga kaibigan na kaanib ng Iglesia ay inimbitahan akong dumalo sa pagsamba,” pagsasalaysay ni Kapatid na JR. Napakalaki ng pagpapasalamat ni Kapatid na JR noon sa Ama na nasa langit dahil nakadalo siya sa pagsamba at narinig at naunawaan niya ang katotohanang itinuro. “Nasabi ko sa aking sarili na mabuti na lang at itinulot ng Diyos na makasama ako sa pagsamba at hindi Niya pinahintulutang ako ay magpapako pa sa krus. Hindi pala iyon ang tamang aral na dapat sundin,” dagdag niya. Noon din ay nagpasiya siyang magpatala bilang isang dinudoktrinahan.

Kapatid na JR Dizon

Hindi naging madali para kay Kapatid na JR ang pag-anib sa Iglesia sapagkat nakaranas siya ng matinding pag-uusig mula sa kaniyang mga mahal sa buhay. Ngunit, ayon sa kaniya, “Nanindigan ako sa aking pag-anib sa Iglesia. Sa pamamagitan ng taimtim na pagpapanata at pananalangin sa Diyos, ako ay naging matatag sa pananampalataya.” Nabautismuhan siya at kalaunan ay tumanggap ng tungkulin bilang mang-aawit sa Lokal ng Puerto Rivas.

Sa iba’t ibang kaparaanan ay tinatawag ng Diyos ang mga tao upang umanib sa Iglesia Ni Cristo. Ngunit magkakaiba man ang nagiging daan ng kanilang pagkakatawag sa tunay na Iglesia, iisa ang pinakalundong dahilan ng kanilang pag-anib—udyok ng pananampalataya sa mga salita ng Diyos na itinuturo sa Iglesia Ni Cristo. Bilang mga tinawag ng Diyos, sila ay nasa liwanag na, mayroon na silang karapatan sa tunay na paglilingkod sa Diyos at sa pagmamana ng Kaniyang mga pangako.

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