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Serving God with a pure heart

Pastoral Visit of the Executive Minister: Capitol, Quezon City
February 16, 2019

Hours before sunrise on February 16, 2019, brethren were already being ushered in the house of worship of the Local Congregation of Capitol in the Ecclesiastical District of Quezon City, Philippines while more brethren arrived, adding to the long queue around the perimeter. But before the appointed time, all were already accommodated in the house of worship that has a three-level balcony and in its multi-level parking building which was prepared for the event.

The occasion was the worship service to be officiated by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine, the 50th of the Christian Era Broadcasting Service International, Inc. (CEBSI), and the 30th of the Society of Communicators and Networkers International (SCAN).

The Pasugo was conceived by God’s Last Messenger himself, Brother Felix Y. Manalo, who held the reins of the magazine at the start. Its maiden issue came out in February 1939. Its succeeding editors-in-chief were Brothers Benjamin J. Santiago Sr. (1952–1968); Teofilo C. Ramos Sr. (1968–1973); Beda H. Aboloc (1973–1974); Cipriano P. Sandoval (1974–1984); Bienvenido C. Santiago (1984–2009); and Richard J. Rodas (2009–2013). Brother Dennis C. Lovendino is the current editor-in-chief. At present, the magazine continues to serve as an effective instrument in the Church’s propagation and edification efforts worldwide.

When the 1960s came, the then Executive Minister Brother Eraño G. Manalo, envisaged another frontier for the Church’s divine works through the broadcast media. DZEM (now known as INCRadio) started airing on February 10, 1969. From terrestrial broadcast or normal audio broadcast, it eventually advanced to being a visual radio (called teleradyo in the Philippines) and, later, live streaming. INCRadio is currently supervised by Brother Arnel L. Solano.

On the other hand, the premiere telecast of Ang Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Church’s first television program, was on February 13, 1983 at 9:00 a.m. over a national television channel. It was produced by the former TV Productions of the Church. Now known as INCTV, it likewise already has live-stream broadcasts. It is supervised at present by Brother Montriville B. Boy. Through the years, both INCRadio and INCTV have reaped awards from prestigious award-giving bodies for its worthy and relevant programs. Merged to become CEBSI under the leadership of Brother Angelo Eraño V. Manalo, it now has numerous satellite stations and bureaus worldwide.

As the Church holds multifarious activities in different parts of the world, the SCAN International is always visible to ensure the safety of the attendees. This organization of brave brethren-volunteers also helps in emergency response and rescue operations when there are disasters. The brainchild of Brother Eduardo Manalo, it has been effectively functioning from the time it was registered with the Philippines’ National Telecommunications Commission on February 6, 1989.

In his homily during the worship service, Brother Eduardo Manalo emphasized the biblical teaching that God seeks in His true servants the pureness of heart. “That is the reason he urges us to always pray to God to bless us with a pure heart, remain obedient to God’s will, and not to extinguish the fire of the Holy Spirit that works in us,” said Brother Waldemar M. Tarray, a minister of the gospel who has been with INCRadio since 1993 and is also currently the SCAN International vice-chairman. “I still vividly remember what he told me when I was assigned to our radio station years back. He told me to make good in everything that would be given to me to do to give glory to God,” he added.

Brother Pedrito B. Placio started with the Pasugo: God’s Message in 1985. He shared that as he was seated at the worship service prior to the homily, he reflected: “It was through this magazine that I found out about the true Church. When I read the conversion of Brother Beda Aboloc, an acquaintance when I was still a seminarian, it made me curious why he left the Catholic Church. I got the answers by reading issues of the Pasugo.”

Brother Beda Aboloc was a Catholic priest prior to his conversion to the Church Of Christ; he even removed his frock in front of thousands of people during an evangelical mission. He then became a minister of the gospel in the Church and eventually an editor-in-chief of the magazine.

After the worship service, Brother Ramon R. Marilla, a video editor who has been with CEBSI since 1986, said, “Many things have already happened in my life that proves that what the Church Administration teaches are the words of God. I experienced a heart attack around 1999. I was rushed to the hospital.” He constantly prayed fervently to God for help. “Today, I am still able to perform my duty,” he added.

A family medicine specialist and a professor at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila-College of Medicine, Sister Rouema P. Perez said, “I learned from the lesson that we should really guard our hearts because God sees what is in our hearts. This inspires me even more to perform my duties wholeheartedly and with more intensity.” Sister Rouema is an INCRadio volunteer as co-host in the program Masayang Tahanan (Happy Home in English) and a deaconess from the Local Congregation of Golden Acres, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila South.

Brother Dennis O. Bonifacio, SCAN International general secretary, who has been a member of the organization since 2007 and who is a deacon from the Local Congregation of Syquia in the Ecclesiastical District of Manila, knows firsthand what it feels like to see a loved one in peril. “I rushed my two children repeatedly to the hospital on different days. They had glucose deficiency and one also had dengue. Our family fervently prayed and we asked a minister to perform anointing of the sick. With God’s mercy, they were cured. Like what Brother Eduardo Manalo said, we can triumph over problems in life with God’s help,” he said.

“I was really inspired by the lesson taught by Brother Eduardo Manalo, particularly our duty to share the true faith with others as they are in great peril for being outside the Church that Christ purchased with His blood,” Brother Pedrito said.

“The Executive Minister clearly taught that, now more than ever, is the time for us to intensify our services to God because Judgment Day is not just near but fast-approaching. That is why as a minister and a writer for the Pasugo, this message from our Executive Minister is what truly moved me to all the more devote myself to my duties and to do my best in everything that is entrusted to me, all for the glory of God,” said Brother Greg F. Nonato. He has been writing for the Pasugo for more than 40 years. Currently, he is one of the senior editors of the magazine.

Reflecting on his life, Brother Rommel D. Areja, said, “I am thankful to the Lord God for blessing me to be a volunteer worker in the Church’s Central Office. I may not be wealthy, but I feel and receive God’s blessings in my life through our Church Administration. My children were able to finish their studies. My eldest child already has a family and has moved to Australia, while my youngest is already an architect.” Brother Rommel has been a volunteer worker for 34 years now and is currently an INCTV cameraman.

Being in the ministry for more than 50 years now, Brother Greg said, “It is by God’s grace and guidance that I am still able to perform my duties. Prayers are truly important to me. With God’s help and mercy, I continue to use my life and strength in serving Him and remaining united with the Church Administration.”

The worship service ended with the morning sun brightly shining up above. Those who attended still lingered a while, sharing with one another how their faith has been doubly strengthened. All, including this writer, truly felt the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this sacred occasion.
(Marie F. Ruiz)

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