Around the world, the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is yet to be mitigated. Daily, the number of infections and deaths from the plague still go by the thousands. To “flatten the curve,” countries have issued sweeping public health measures such as strict home quarantine, social distancing, and prohibition of large gatherings to contain the virus to a level manageable for medical personnel.
This pandemic has brought anxiety to millions of people and has affected their everyday lives. Students were suddenly forced to stay indoors even if they have yet to complete a full term’s requirements. Many companies had to either stop operating or lay off most of their employees, causing a great many to lose their means of livelihood. Sporting events, concerts, and other social events have mostly been cancelled.
While complying with the strict disease control guidelines that governments are implementing in their respective countries, members of the Church Of Christ also continue to uphold their worship services to God. Even though many members cannot congregate at houses of worship for the time being, they are still able to fulfill their primordial duty to God by following the Church Administration’s instruction that they conduct worship services in their homes. Families in the Church receive Bible-based messages from the Church Administration that contain the teachings of God to be read by the head of the family during their household worship services. The messages aim to ensure the spiritual welfare of the brethren—for them to be strong in faith and be filled with hope in what God can do for the sake of His chosen ones. Just like in congregational worship services conducted inside the house of worship, there are also hymn-singing, prayers, and giving of offerings on such occasions.
On March 29, 2020, members of the Church in different parts of the world were able to attend the worship service led by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo in the confines of their own homes through videoconferencing. They participated in the hymn-singing and prayers and listened to the preaching of the Executive Minister streamed live from one of the chapels designed for livestreaming worship services inside the Pilar Manalo-Danao Multimedia Center (PMD) within the Iglesia Ni Cristo Central Office Complex in Quezon City, Philippines. Brother Eduardo Manalo exhorted the brethren to “stand straight and look up,” that is, remain steadfast in their faith as Church Of Christ members and fully trust God during these trying times (Luke 21:28 New Living Translation).
Here are some of the brethren who expressed how their faith was further edified by the teachings of God they received during the livestreamed worship service led by the Executive Minister:
“Bagaman sunud-sunod ang mabibigat na mga pangyayari sa ating paligid, lalo na nang magsimula ang taong ito, ay patuloy nating nararamdaman ang kapanatagan sa panahon ng pagsamba. Dahil sa pagsamba sa Diyos ay patuloy tayong nagkakaroon ng tibay ng loob at katatagan ng pananampalataya sa pagharap sa mga pagsubok sa ating buhay. Sa mga pagsamba ay nadaragdagan ang ating pag-asa upang anuman ang dumating pang pagsubok sa atin ay makaya natin itong mapagtagumpayan sa tulong at awa ng Diyos.”
[Although severe adversities have been coming one after another since the year began, we continue to feel a sense of security during worship services. It is through our worship of God that we continue to have the courage and the firm faith to face the trials in our life. In our worship services, our hope is intensified so much so that whatever trial that comes, we can overcome it through the help and mercy of God.]
“We shouldn’t be afraid because God is on our side. We already knew that these types of things were going to happen. God is true to His promise to take care of us. Our firm conviction in Him is proven when we are more prayerful, more obedient, and more united with the Administration.”
“Our conviction is manifested when unpleasant things happen in our lives and we are not affected by them. We know that our Almighty God will allow us to go through such things in our life. However, He will never test His children with more than they can handle. Even when we think that the worst has happened, God will give us the solution to the problem and will also help us through it.”
“Alles was im Moment passiert wurde bereits vorhergesagt. Weil wir Gott an unserer Seite haben und er uns immer beschützten wird. Immer weiter Gott vertrauen weil er allmächtig ist und vor allem auch alle Anweisungen der Kirchenverwaltung folgen in dieser schwierigen Situation weil diese durch unseren Gott geleitet wird. Niemals seine Dienste vernachlässigen vor allem auch da wir im Moment nicht unsere Gottesdienste in den Kirchengebäude führen dürfen. Daher sollte man der Kirchenverwaltung folgen.”
[What are happening in the world have already been foretold. However, we have God on our side and He will always protect us. We should continuously trust in Him because He is Almighty. That is why we should never neglect our services to Him. We should always follow the instructions of the Church Administration because they receive the guidance from our Almighty God.]
“Y creo que las pruebas son necesarias en nuestra vida, porque es a través de las pruebas donde aprendemos a ser firmes en nuestra fe, es a través de las pruebas donde nuestro Señor Dios conoce quien de entre sus siervos son los que realmente confían en ÉL. Por eso, creo que es a través de las pruebas donde nuestro Señor Dios nos refina, es a través de las pruebas donde nuestro Señor Dios nos purifica como el oro a través del fuego. Por eso pienso que nunca deberíamos entristecernos cuando pasamos por pruebas o dificultades sino que deberíamos afrontarlas con alegría y felicidad, cumpliendo siempre los mandamientos de Dios, y creo que solamente de esta forma podemos demostrarle al Señor Dios que confiamos plenamente en Él.”
[I believe that everything that happens in this world has a purpose and I firmly believe that our Lord God has great purposes and plans for His nation. And I believe that trials are necessary in our lives, because it is through trials that we learn to be firm in our faith, it is through trials that our Lord God knows who among His servants are those who really trust Him. So I think it is through trials that our Lord God refines us, it is through trials that our Lord God purifies us like gold through fire. That is why I think that we should never be sad when we go through trials or difficulties but we should face them with joy and happiness, always fulfilling God’s commandments, and I believe that only in this way can we demonstrate to the Lord God that we fully trust Him.]
“Alors que toutes les religions du monde arrêtent leurs services, Notre seigneur dieu nous a permis de continuer de lui rendre gloire et d’obtenir de précieux conseils et ainsi de renforcer notre foi. C’est donc un privilège qu’il ne faut pas négliger car malgré le climat anxiogène qui règne dans le monde actuellement, nous avons toujours la possibilité de recevoir l’aide de notre seigneur dieu et la seule chose qu’il demande de nous est que nous fassions notre part également.”
[Our Lord God has allowed us to continue to give Him glory and receive His valuable guidance and the strength of our faith. So it is a blessing that we are able to continue fulfilling our duty to God despite the troubling atmosphere currently pervading the world. Because we continue to uphold the worship services, we always have the chance to receive the help of our Lord God. What He asks of us is to also do our part].
“In the widespread crisis that’s burdening the people all over the world, praying for God’s rescue is vital. Our continuous devotional prayers is a manifestation that we hold fast to what God can do for us. In our prayers, we tell God our heartaches, ask for the forgiveness of our shortcomings, and solution to our problems. When we pray to Him, we express our great need for His mercy and deliverance that He has promised to give His faithful servants. Despite this lockdown, we are still able to hold our worship services in our households through the guidance of the Church Administration. The Executive Minister also taught us that this lockdown has become a great opportunity for us to share our faith on the Internet, or by means of social media. In this way, we are also able to put our social media involvement to greater and better use.”
“Hindi tayo dapat matakot sapagkat tayo ay mga hinirang ng Diyos. Dapat ay magtiwala tayo na tinitiyak ng Diyos, sa pamamagitan ng Pamamahala, na patuloy nating tinatanggap ang lakas at pagpapala sa pamamagitan ng mga pagsamba natin sa Panginoong Diyos. Kaya sa kabila ng mga pagsubok na kinakaharap natin, hindi tayo dapat mahadlangan sa ating mga paglilingkod sa Kaniya.”
[We should not be afraid, for we are God’s chosen ones. We must trust in God Who makes sure that we continue to receive the strength and the spiritual blessings during our worship services through the Church Administration. So, the trials we face should never hinder us from serving God.]
“우리는하나님께대한믿음을그의가르침에순종하고열심히기도함으로써표현할수있다. 기도를통해하나님께자아와걱정을바침으로써하나님에대한우리의믿음을긍정할수있다. 항상최악의상황도결코최악이아니라는것을명심해야한다. 나아가하나님께서그의충실한종들을결코버리지않겠다고약속하셨기때문에끈기있게희망이나타나기를기다려야한다. 우리가지금고통받고있을수있지만, 이것은오래지속되지않을것이다. 우리의눈이볼수없는것을기대해야하며, 그것이바로하나님의보호와구원의약속이다.”
[We can prove our trust in God by being obedient to His teachings and by being prayerful. Surrendering ourselves and our worries to God through sincere devotional prayers is an affirmation that we trust in Him. We should always remember that even if it seems that the worst has come, it is never the worst for us, God’s people. Let us wait patiently for God’s help because He promised that He will never forsake His faithful servants. We may be suffering right now, but this will not last for long. We should hope for what our eyes cannot see, and that is God’s promised salvation and eternal life in heaven].
“I thank the Lord God for blessing the Church with our Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. He continues to preach God’s words that bring to the Church hope and inspiration that will help us overcome all the obstacles we face in order for us to receive the promised salvation.”
“I promise our Almighty God that even if things get worse, I will continue to worship Him and our Lord Jesus Christ for the rest of my life. I will prove my love for Him and I will wholeheartedly obey His commandments taught to us by the Church Administration.”
“In spite of the world’s serious condition, we should stand straight and look up because God’s promised salvation is near. We should not let these issues move us in our faith and in our services to God. I firmly believe that He is taking care of me and my family. We continue to strive to faithfully serve God no matter what the situation in life is and we do our best to raise our children to do the same.”
“In the midst of the world’s serious condition, we should never lose hope. We must always remain strong in the faith, always be prayerful, and always serve and worship our Almighty God. Our firm conviction in our Almighty God is proven through our complete obedience to all of His laws and commandments. By giving our Almighty God first place in our lives, He will always rescue and save us.”
“En le priant, en Le chérissant, en suivant Ses commandements et en diffusant Hes bonnes paroles au non membre de l’église
Nous ressentons, l’amour, la protection de notre Seigneur, et que surtout nous devons toujours suivre l’Administration central de notre Église, car c’est notre Seigneur qui a fait renaitre (mener) son église a travers elle.”
[We prove that we trust in God by praying to Him, cherishing Him, following His commandments, and sharing His teachings with nonmembers. We feel the love and the protection of our Lord God. That is why we should always follow the Church Administration whom God has placed to lead His Church].”
[God has promised that He will never forsake us, so we are certain that He will always protect us. That is why we should not worry about anything. Even in difficult situations, we should continue to follow God’s will. Through our worship services to God, I can feel His love and remain close to Him. Severe problems may keep on coming, but with God’s love and mercy, we will survive without worrying about our basic necessities].