Having a true friend to rely on is certainly a great advantage. However, no matter how much our fellow humans are willing to help us, they can only do so much.
On the other hand, the Bible reveals that there are people who became God’s friends and because of His help, they are able to surmount even the most difficult adversities. They are the servants of God who have firm faith in Him, completely obey His commands, and dedicate their hearts to Him. That was what the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, emphasized in his homily during the worship service he officiated on March 5, 2022.
In that sacred gathering held at the Local Congregation of Templo Central, Ecclesiastical District of Central, he ordained 30 ministers. Brother Rene J. Panoncillo led the opening prayer and Brother Romer D. Galang led the congregational prayer after the preaching of the Executive Minister.
Brother Bienvenido C. Santiago administered the ordinand’s oath-taking, while Brother Arnel R. Canicosa led the prayer after the laying-on of hands of the Executive Minister. The benediction was said by Brother Eduardo Manalo.
The following are the experiences of some brethren who attended the sacred gathering, showing how God’s loving care was manifested in their lives for completely entrusting themselves to Him:
Written by Renee Suarez
In her youth, Sister Kristine Fayer spent much of her time in Church activities with her peers in the Church and with the Children’s Worship Service (CWS) officers. She recalls, “We were all in the CWS choir. When it was time for me to be a CWS officer and oversee the younger members, I strove to be an inspiration to them—just like those before me were an inspiration to me.”
Her parents were her inspiration as well. “My parents are officers in the Church. They were both working full-time but were dedicated to the Church. And even until now, they both spend a lot of time in Church activities. I know that what they are doing is for God.”
Although Sister Kristine herself had to face hardships and trials, she never stopped performing her duties as an organist. “When everything else in the world is going wrong, just like what was said in the lesson, God is our friend. He is the only One Who can help us hurdle our sadness. I maintain my relationship with Him when I perform my Church duty. I give it my heart and soul. I thank God for everything. When we’re in worship services, that’s when we gain the strength we need,” she affirmed.
Now as a parent, she revealed her concern on how the world might influence her children. “There’s always a fear that someone might influence them to think contrary to the Bible. The internet, social media, and people that they encounter can have strong influence on them,” she shares.
Sister Kristine prays that her children will continue to stay faithful members of the Church Of Christ, understanding the value of the Church Administration’s guidance. She said, “It’s the foundation that we need. Whenever we have problems, we should hold on to what we were taught through the biblical lessons.”
Zamboanga del Sur
Written by Heidi Yañez
Sister Alicia Buco and her husband, Brother Ramon, truly know the importance of the Almighty Father’s guidance. They were not born in the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ). They had joined different religions in their youth but never truly felt settled in any of them. “We were searching back then where we can truly worship God,” Sister Alicia shares.
That was until Sister Alicia heard about the Church Of Christ. In 1988, she attended an evangelical mission and was greatly enlightened by what she heard. “That was the first time I heard the teachings in the Church Of Christ. I was amazed because the questions I had about religion were answered,” she said. She excitedly told her husband about what she learned, and they soon found themselves attending the Bible studies on doctrines and were eventually baptized that same year.
Sister Alicia’s conversion caused a rift between her and her parents. She and her husband were often barred from her parents’ home because of their decision to convert. Undeterred, Sister Alicia continued trying to persuade her parents to also find the true faith. She shared, “I didn’t stop praying that they will be with us in the Church someday.” Ten years later, her parents were baptized.
“Our whole household wholeheartedly trusts that our Lord God will hear our prayers,” Sister Alicia said. She added that God’s teachings taught by the Executive Minister are akin to a guiding light even in the darkest of times. She expressed, “Despite the hardships in the world in our time, the Executive Minister continues leading the Church, always teaching us. He taught us that we should not lose faith in God. That is why we will constantly obey God’s will.”
San Carlos, Pangasinan
Sinulat ni Lovely Rose Aquino
Noong 2013, nagkaroon ng mild stroke si Kapatid na Wilmina Casamayor. Dahil doon, nahirapan siyang magsalita at maglakad. Nanghina ang kanang bahagi ng kaniyang katawan kaya hindi niya maayos na naigagalaw ang kaniyang kamay, dahilan para hindi siya makahawak ng panulat.
Gayunman, tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang pagdalo niya sa pagsamba, at nagniningas pa rin ang kagustuhan niyang makatupad muli bilang maytungkulin sa pananalapi, na natigil nang siya ay nagkasakit. “Gustung-gusto ko nang makatupad. Sinikap ko na sumulat ng mga numero at letra. Nagsimula ako sa mga guhit hanggang sa naisusulat ko na ang pangalan ko.”
Pinagtuunan ni Kapatid na Wilmina ng malaking panahon ang pagsasanay na makapagsulat muli, kaya laging nasa tabi niya ang kaniyang panulat at notebook. “Talagang nahirapan ako dahil ang dati kong ginagawa ay natigil,” wika niya.
Kahit may mga sandali na siya’y lumuha sa simula dahil bigo siyang humawak ng panulat at makapagsulat ay hindi pa rin siya sumuko. “Araw-araw akong nagsanay. Halos dalawang buwan din iyon. Tiniyaga kong magsulat para makatupad na muli,” dagdag pa niya.
“Hindi ako nawalan ng pag-asa na pagagalingin ako ng Diyos. Nagpapanata kami ng aking sambahayan na ibalik sana ang dati kong lakas at bigyan pa Niya kami ng lakas para malampasan ang nangyari sa akin,” pagsalaysay niya. Bukod sa pansarili niyang pananalangin, siya rin ay nagpapapahid ng langis. Siya at ang pamilya niya ay hindi nabigo sa kanilang pagtitiwala sa Diyos.
Sa Pasasalamat para sa anibersaryo ng Iglesia sa taon ding iyon, nakabalik sa pagtupad si Kapatid na Wilmina. “Napakasaya ko noon. Sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa Ama dahil muli Niya akong binigyan ng pagkakataong makatupad. At hanggang ngayon, nakatutupad pa rin ako,” wika niya.
Kaugnay ng narinig niyang itinuro ng Namamahala, sinabi niya, “Ang tumatak sa aking puso ay ang unahin lagi ang Diyos dahil napatutunayan natin sa pamamagitan nito na tayo ay may malaking pagtitiwala sa Kaniya. Ang mga panalangin natin ay ating makakamtam dahil sa Kaniyang pag-ibig sa atin at sa ating pagtitiwala sa Kaniya.”
Buo ang pananalig ni Kapatid na Wilmina na ang matibay niyang pananampalataya sa magagawa ng Diyos ang tumulong sa kaniya upang gumaling. Kaya, pangako niya, “Ipagpapatuloy ko ang pagtupad ng aking tungkulin at pagsamba sa Diyos. Ang natitirang buhay at lakas ko’y gugugulin ko sa paglilingkod sa Kaniya.”
Sinulat ni Erica Janella Diego
Si Kapatid na Francisco “Jun” de Castro Jr., pangalawang pangulong diakono sa Lokal ng Alfonso, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Cavite South, ay nagtatrabaho noon bilang technician sa isang hotel. Ngunit dahil sa madalas na pagpapa-overtime sa kanila sa trabaho, naging suliranin ito sa kaniya sa pagtupad niya ng kaniyang tungkulin sa Iglesia.
Taglay ang pananalig sa Diyos, pinili niya kung ano ang higit na mahalaga. “Nagpasiya akong piliin ang aking tungkulin,” wika niya. Iniwan niya ang kaniyang trabaho noon upang mapagtalagahan pa rin niya ang kaniyang tungkulin.
Bagaman nawalan siya ng ikinabubuhay noon, “Hindi kami pinabayaan ng Diyos. Katunayan nga, napag-aral ko ang aking mga anak. Nakapagpundar din ako ng isa pang bahay,” pahayag ni Kapatid na Jun. Ang naging hanapbuhay niya pagkatapos mag-resign sa dating trabaho ay ang pagkukumpuni ng iba’t ibang appliances sa mga baryo na pinupuntahan niya. At kahit ngayon, sa panahon ng pandemya, “Ibinibigay ng Diyos ang aming mga pangangailangan. Hindi man sagana, pero hindi naman nagkukulang,” pagpapatuloy niya.
Nagkaroon pa siya ng malaking panahon para masinop at maakay ang kaniyang sambahayan sa tapat na paglilingkod sa Diyos. Kaya maging ang kaniyang maybahay at mga anak ay masisiglang kaanib at mga maytungkulin sa Iglesia. “Napabuti pa kami. Nabuhay kami nang maayos, naitataguyod ang paglilingkod sa Diyos, at hindi napinsala ang aking pagtupad. Mas natutukan pa namin ang pagpapalaki sa mga anak namin,” dagdag pa niya.
“Ang pagiging masunurin sa Diyos at pagsampalataya sa Kaniya ay pakikinabangan din sa ating pamumuhay ngayon. Napatunayan ito sa aking buhay nang manindigan ako sa aking tungkulin,” ibinahagi ni Kapatid na Jun. Kaya, ganito na lamang ang pagpapahalaga niya sa tungkulin sa loob ng Iglesia: “Ang tungkulin ay pinanumpaan ko sa Diyos. Simula nang ako ay tumanggap ng sagutin ay ipinasya ko sa aking sarili na maninindigan ako hanggang sa kamatayan.”
Sinulat ni Julie Ann Anden
Dahil sa hirap ng buhay, hindi na nakatapos ng pag-aaral si Kapatid na Eleonor Moreno. Siya ay namasukan bilang kasambahay para makatulong sa mga pangangailangan ng kaniyang pamilya at, higit sa lahat, upang may magamit siya sa paglilingkod sa Diyos. “Mula pa sa pagkabata ay napakarami nang pagsubok at suliranin ang aking naranasan. Ngunit tinuruan akong magpakatatag sa aking pananamplataya at laging ipagpauna ang Ama.”
Nagpalipat-lipat siya ng amo noon dahil hinahadlangan nila ang kaniyang pagtupad ng tungkulin sa Iglesia Ni Cristo kahit tapos na ang kaniyang trabaho. Siya noon ay maytungkulin sa Pagsamba Ng Kabataan (PNK), mang-aawit, at kalihim. “Kasabay ng mga pagsubok ay nananalagin ako lagi na huwag akong pabayaan ng Diyos. Susundin ko ang kalooban Niya. Kahit mawalan ako ng trabaho, Siya naman ang magbibigay ng magandang kapalaran sa akin.”
Sa kabila ng lahat ng tiisin ay ipinasumpong sa kaniya ng Ama ang isang mabuting kapalaran noong siya ay nakapag-asawa ng kapuwa niyang masigla at mananampalatayang kaanib ng Iglesia. Siya ay si Kapatid na Antonio Moreno Jr. Silang mag-asawa ay masayang bumuo ng pamilya habang patuloy sa paglilingkod sa Ama at tumutupad ng kani-kaniyang tungkulin.
Ngunit nakaranas pa rin sila ng mga pag-uusig sa kanilang pinagta-trabahuhan. “Noong nagdaranas kami ng mga pag-uusig ay ipinagpanata namin sa Ama na huwag na sanang maging hadlang ang ikinabubuhay namin upang patuloy kaming makatugon sa aming tungkulin. Ang mga pagsubok ay napagtagumpayan namin dahil naging tapat na kaibigan namin ang Ama. Kahit kailan, kahit saan kami makarating, tanging Panginoong Diyos lamang ang laging una sa aming buhay.”
Dininig ng Ama ang panalangin nina Kapatid na Eleonor, mang-aawit mula sa Lokal ng Rizal, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng San Pablo City, Laguna. Siya at ang kaniyang asawa, kasama ang kanilang mga anak, ay sa compound ng Iglesia Ni Cristo na nakatira. Sila ay pinagtiwalaan na pangalagaan at ipagmalasakit ang gusaling sambahan ng lokal dahil si Kapatid na Antonio ay inatangan ng tungkulin bilang isang bantay-kapilya. Sa piling ng kanilang tungkulin na buong pagtatalaga nilang ginagampanan sa katuwaang maglingkod sa Diyos at makatulong sa mga kapakanan ng Kaniyang bahay, payapa at matiwasay ang buhay at pamumuhay ng kanilang pamilya. Higit sa lahat, lalong napatitibay ang kanilang pag-asa sa pagmamana ng Kaniyang mga dakilang pangako.
Written by Algilyn Cortez
Life in Japan has always been fast-paced. In the streets or train stations, it is common to see people scurrying to their destinations. Japanese people seem to be always in a haste as they spend arduously long hours at work. They work conscientiously, feeling guilty to take a day off.
This is the norm in Japan as such work habits “are so deeply engrained in society” (bbc.com). The country is known for having “an intense work culture” or being a workaholic society. Thus, the coinage of “karoshi” (death by overwork), which describes fatalities that resulted from stress and pressures related to work (bbc.com). Despite the cultural pressure, Brother Kiyohiro Tanaka defies the odds by devoting himself to serving our Almighty God.
Brother Kiyohiro recalls the time he was undergoing Bible study on doctrines while working as a hotel front desk agent. He had to endure disapproving looks from coworkers and higher-ups when he had to leave work to attend the worship service. Despite this, he understood that his topmost priority is serving God. “私の仕事はいつも日曜日が忙しかったのですが、礼拝を休まないように最善を尽くしました [My work was always very busy on Sundays, but I try my hardest to not miss the worship services],” he continued.
Now retired from his job, he, with his wife, Sister Julie, devotes much of his time to serving our Almighty God as an active member in the Local Congregation of Yokosuka. He said, “私が学んだことは、この世のものに流されないことです。見えないものを大切にすれば、神の国に入ることができます。また、神の約束を手にするために、神は全能であられることを信じ、神を礼拝して信仰を持つべきで [I learned that in this world we should not chase material things. We should give importance to the things that cannot be seen, so that we will be deserving to enter God’s kingdom. Also, to receive God’s promise, we should believe that God is Almighty, we should worship and have faith in Him].”
Heeding God’s calling
Written by Maniel Angeline Soriano
Brother Mark Wilson Presilda had earned a college degree and was already working in a private company when, in 2010, he decided to heed the call of the Lord God, through the Church Administration, to join the ministry. It was after he attended a worship service officiated by the Executive Minister during which Brother Eduardo V. Manalo called on the young male Church members to consider joining the ministry.
“At that moment, I understood that there’s a need for more ministers because of the growing number of Church members. I firmly believe that to become a minister is a calling from the Almighty Father. I knew that it was not going to be easy. I had to leave many things behind and there were numerous challenges I had to face. But I also kept my faith in God,” said Brother Mark as he recalled how he was inspired to study in the ministry.
As he expected, Brother Mark did encounter difficult situations along the way. When he was in his fourth year as a ministerial student, he was assigned in the Local Congregation of Guagua in Pampanga. A typhoon struck and some of the brethren there were affected by floods.
Together with other ministers and ministerial workers in their area, Brother Mark visited the brethren to see their condition. “We had to guide the boats carrying the aid that we were going to deliver to our brothers and sisters. We did this for a whole day,” he recounted.
Going through such experiences was actually not a new thing for Brother Mark. Being a minister’s son, he grew up seeing his father make sacrifices to fulfill the duties in the ministry. His parents taught him the importance of loving and taking care of the brethren.
He explained, “When I was young, I would oftentimes accompany my father when he fulfilled his ministerial functions. He showed me how to uphold the ministry without reservations.”
Now as a minister like his father, Brother Mark promised, “I will follow all the commandments of God wholeheartedly and I will remain united with the Church Administration. I will continue teaching the brethren the value of keeping their trust in our Lord God, no matter the situation in life.”