WITH MANY UNUSUAL things happening in every corner of the world, overcoming the difficulties that pose a threat to humankind could prove daunting to anyone—but not to the faithful servants of God. They are confident that during these times, He will extend His abiding help to them because He listens to the pleadings of His people who fully obey Him.
That is why Brother Eduardo V. Manalo always encourages the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) members to trust in God and uphold their devotional prayers, so that they can emerge triumphant in their holy endeavors and be certain of attaining the true life—the life everlasting. The timely message of the Executive Minister was conveyed during his pastoral visit to the Local Congregation of Bagtas, Ecclesiastical District of Cavite South on September 2, 2022.
The gathering was witnessed by many other brethren through livestreaming as they gathered in their respective houses of worship. On that occasion, the respective milestone anniversaries of 13 local congregations in the Philippines and two congregations abroad were commemorated.
Before the Bible-based homily, Brother Alan King G. Mercado, the district supervising minister of Cavite South, led the opening prayer. The closing prayer was led by Brother Romer D. Galang. The Executive Minister said the benediction.
Sapang Maragul, Tarlac
Written by Alyanna Paraiso
Ten days before turning 85 years on September 12, 2022, the Local Congregation of Sapang Maragul in the Ecclesiastical District of Tarlac City, Tarlac was blessed by God as the brethren were able to attend, through livestreaming, the worship service officiated by Brother Eduardo Manalo.
Among them was Sister Manuelle “Miles” Dimarucot. She conveyed what gives her inspiration in life, and that is “the promise of our Lord God that He will not let the righteous fail. Our Lord God also promised that He will safeguard us from harm and will always help us in times of need.” She firmly believes that nothing is impossible with God. That is why, she always prays to Him and patiently waits for her prayers to be answered.
Sister Miles shared that there was a time when all that her family could do was pray and put their trust in God. Her oldest daughter, Sister Gabrielle Amanda, was born with microcolon, a condition where a part of her intestine was smaller than normal. Sister Miles and her husband, Brother Arman Brylle, were told by the doctors that their daughter had to undergo surgery when she was only four days old because her condition could eventually lead to death.
“It was one of the biggest problems we had to face as a married couple and as parents,” said Sister Miles. At a very young age, Sister Gabrielle underwent colostomy, an operation to help her have a normal and complete digestive process. Sister Miles continued, “The operation gave her a hard time as she was growing up, but, as parents, we taught her how to pray and its importance and efficacy.”
At the age of eight, Sister Gabrielle had another colostomy, which her parents expected to be her last, but, still, it was not the case. “During that time, my daughter asked me, ‘Why me, mama?’ Being her mother, I knew that I should encourage her to be brave. So, I advised Gabrielle, ‘The best thing that we can do is pray and ask for God’s comfort and healing’,” Sister Miles recalled.
In 2019, Sister Gabrielle’s colostomy pouch was scheduled to be removed. After the operation, her parents were surprised by the news that their daughter would no longer need to undergo another operation. “It was our family’s answered prayers for our daughter to have a better quality of life. The Lord helped us in this journey. He is our refuge in times of trouble. He never forsakes us,” Sister Miles said.
The Dimarucot family prove their hope in God despite the many hardships in life by continually performing their duties and participating in various Church activities. Sister Miles is a finance officer, Brother Brylle is a choir member, and Sister Gabrielle is a Children’s Worship Service (CWS) choir member.
Redwood City, California
Written by Angelyn Navasca
Sister Lynbel Llamelo is no stranger to facing danger and uncertainties. As a registered nurse working in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, she is often exposed to invisible enemies such as infectious diseases. “The most challenging times being a nurse is the uncertainty of information and how the Covid-19 would affect me as a nurse and my family,” she said. In spite of the challenges in her occupation, she emphasized, “I always feel calm and at peace knowing that whatever happens, God will protect me.”
Sister Lynbel’s good disposition in life is influenced by his father, Brother Paul Membrere, a minister of the gospel. “My father would always remind and teach us to always put God first in our lives and everything we ask for in life will be given to us,” she said.
Fast forward, all these years later, and still that conviction remains strong in the life of Sister Lynbel and her family. Being one of the pioneering members of the Local Congregation of Redwood City, Ecclesiastical District of Northwest California, she had been blessed to witness the local congregation reaching its golden year.
To commemorate the local congregation’s milestone anniversary, the brethren were able to witness the worship service officiated by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, through videostreaming. What resonated in Sister Lynbel’s heart as she listened intently hearkened back to the most valuable lessons she received from her father. “Brother Eduardo reminded us that we should always be prayerful. Tell our God everything. Although He already knows what we need and struggles we are going through, God is just waiting for us to call on Him and He is always ready to help us.”
To this end, Sister Lynbel remains faithful to her duty as a choir member as she knows that placing God as the top priority in life and conducting prayers are essential to be blessed in this life and most of all, in the life to come.
In order to do so, she recalled the Executive Minister mentioning the condition for all of one’s prayers to be answered: “We must remain faithful and obedient to all of God’s commandments and fulfill our duties until the end.”
Bagtas, Tanza, Cavite
Sinulat ni Anzel Anne Sagdullas
Bagaman ito ay barangay na sakop ng bayan ng Tanza sa Cavite, ang Bagtas ay dating extension ng Lokal ng Trece Martires. Sa loob ng maraming taon, ang pagsamba ng mga kapatid ay isinagawa sa tahanan ni Kapatid na Benito Caraan. Subalit, dahil sa patuloy na pagdami ng mga kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo sa dakong ito, nangailangan sila ng mas malaking dako na pagsasagawaan ng kanilang pagsamba sa Diyos at iba pang mga pagtitipon.
Noong Enero 12, 2018, pinagtibay ng Pamamahala na ang Bagtas ay maging isang ganap na lokal. At bunga ng patuloy na pagpapanata ng mga kapatid, sila ay biniyayaan ng Diyos ng isang bago at malaking gusaling sambahan na itinalaga sa Kaniya noong Nobyembre 27, 2020—panahon ng pandemya. Ito ay makapaglululan ng 1,056 na mga mananamba.
Sa mga tagumpay na nakamit ng lokal, nahayag sa buhay ng mga kapatid na dininig ng Panginoong Diyos ang kanilang mga panalangin dahil lubos silang nagtiwala sa magagawa Niya.
Pagbabahagi ni Kapatid na Luisito Ang Sr., isang diakono, “Hindi naging madali ang proseso ng paghanap ng lupang pagtatayuan ng gusaling sambahan sa aming lugar dahil maraming pag-uusig ang aming pinagdaanan.” Subalit, dahil sa iisang layunin na lalong makapagbigay-luwalhati sa Diyos, nagtulung-tulong ang mga maytungkulin at mga kapatid sa lahat ng mga gawain sa loob ng Iglesia. “Ang higit sa lahat na aming matibay na pinanghawakan, determinado kaming magkaisa dahil ang Diyos ang Siyang tumutulong at nakikinig sa aming mga panalangin.”
Ang ganitong kahalagahan ng pagtitiwala sa Diyos sa pamamagitan ng panalangin ay binigyang-diin ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo sa kaniyang pagtuturo ng mga salita ng Diyos. Bagaman hindi naging maganda ang panahon noong araw na iyon, kinasabikan pa rin ng mga kapatid ang pagsamba sapagkat sinasampalatayanan nilang may mga biyayang espirituwal na inilalaan ang Diyos para sa Kaniyang mga hinirang na hindi nagpapabaya sa mga banal na tungkulin.
Mula sa pagtuturo ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan, natutuhan ni Kapatid na Luisito na, “Ang mga pagsubok ay hindi talaga mawawala. Ako at ang aking sambahayan ay hindi makaiiwas na maranasan ang mga ito. Kaya, mahalagang maging panatag ang aking loob na kayang-kaya kong malampasan ang mga ito dahil sinasampalatayanan ko na ang Diyos ay hinding-hindi magpapabaya sa Kaniyang mga hinirang kailanman.”
Ang panalangin din ang naging sandata ni Kapatid na Gina Gamay sa pagharap sa mga suliranin kahit pa noong siya ay nasa proseso pa lamang ng pag-anib sa Iglesia. Ang kaniyang mga magulang ay dating mga caretaker ng simbahan ng kanilang kinaaanibang relihiyon noon, kaya hindi naging madali ang pagtanggap ng kaniyang asawa at mga anak nang siya ay magpasiyang umanib sa Iglesia Ni Cristo. “Sa pamamagitan ng panalangin, ang Diyos ang naging sumbungan ko ng mga pagsubok na aking naranasan maging ng mga pag-uusig sa akin ng aking pamilya. Dahil sa aking pananalangin sa Ama, lumalakas ang aking loob.”
Bunga ng kaniyang taimtim na pananalangin sa Diyos, si Kapatid na Gina ay kinaawaang tumanggap ng tunay na bautismo noong July 15, 2020. “Kahit na anong pagsubok ang aking nasasagupa, hindi ako natatakot dahil ang Diyos ay nakahandang tumulong sa akin. Sa aking pananalangin, sumasampalataya akong dinirinig ako ng Diyos. Hindi man sa panahon na hinahangad ko dumarating ang kasagutan pero natatanggap ko ito sa tamang panahon at ang tinatanggap ko ay higit pa sa aking hiniling,” pananalig niya.
Ang malaking pagbabago sa kaniyang pananaw sa buhay ang humikayat sa pamilya ni Kapatid na Gina na magsuri rin sa Iglesia. Sa awa ng Diyos, silang lahat ay natawag din sa tunay na Iglesia.
Ang makadalo sa pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo ay isang napakalaking biyaya para sa sambahayan ni Kapatid na Gina. Ayon sa kaniya, “Lalong tumatag ang aming pananampalataya at masasabi kong hindi kami nagkamali sa aming pasiya na umanib sa tunay na relihiyon. Kaya, anumang pagsubok ang dumating sa amin ay handa naming harapin nang buong tapang, kalakip ang taimtim na pananalangin at pagtitiwala sa Diyos.”