THE LORD GOD loves His people who do what is right or who fulfill His will. Among the manifestations of His love, in times of distress, He is the Source of their strength. He rescues and saves them.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo emphasized this in his homily during the worship service he officiated on April 29, 2022, at the house of worship of the Bagong Silang V Local Congregation, Ecclesiastical District of Caloocan North.
In that sacred gathering, brethren from 31 local congregations (21 in the Philippines and 10 abroad) commemorating their respective milestone anniversaries also witnessed through videoconferencing the biblical preaching of the Executive Minister from the host site, which was dedicated to God in a worship service he officiated at on December 18, 2021.
Brother Ariel B. Barzaga led the opening prayer after which the Executive Minister delivered his sermon, reminding the brethren that to receive the Lord God’s lovingkindness and grace, the greatest of which is salvation on Judgment Day, they must strive to have all the qualities that God expects of them, such as obedience and faithfulness. Towards the end, Brother Eduardo Manalo expressed his compassion for the brethren by asking God to help them always, grant their supplications, and remember them when His Son returns. It was followed by a prayer led by Brother Romer D. Galang. The Executive Minister said the benediction after the Doxology.
The following stories of faith of the brethren from the local congregations that witnessed the above-mentioned worship service tell how the faithful recognize the love and care of the Lord to them by striving to live a righteous way of life and wholeheartedly obey all of His laws no matter what.
Bagong Silang V, Caloocan
By Namilhyn Komatsu
For Brother Freddie Flores, serving God has always been his priority. Although he used to hold a high position in his former religion, he still wondered then if he was in the true Church.
When he was introduced to the Church Of Christ, Brother Freddie realized that his services to God before had been useless. Eager to become worthy before God and attain salvation, he and his family persevered to join the Church. In 2014, with God’s mercy, they received their much-awaited baptism. “The day of our baptism was a fond memory for me. We felt renewed,” he recalled.
After two years, Brother Freddie and his wife, together with their three sons, took oath as Church officers in the Local Congregation of Bagong Silang V, Ecclesiastical District of Caloocan North. Their God-given duties are what they consider as their true wealth and inspiration in facing various ordeals in life.
This firm conviction of Brother Freddie and his family was all the more strengthened as they listened to the preaching of Brother Eduardo Manalo in a worship service he officiated at their congregation’s house of worship.
“I learned from our beloved Executive Minister to not feel anxious about the struggles that we are experiencing in life and to always remain steadfast and strong in the faith. God’s teachings really help us, especially now that we are experiencing various stressors. We must always believe and trust in the Lord God,” Brother Freddie shared.
Blessed to be in the true Church and performing his most precious gift from God, Brother Freddie concluded, “The differences between the previous religions I used to be a member of and the Church Of Christ are the solemnity of the worship services, the discipline, and, most importantly, the teachings. I’m forever thankful to God that I found His true Church.”
Domalandan, Lingayen, Pangasinan
By Blesilda Rosario
Six days after the commemoration of its 80th anniversary on April 23, the Local Congregation of Domalandan in the Ecclesiastical District of Lingayen, Pangasinan was blessed to be part of the worship service led by the Executive Minister.
With great anticipation, Sister Dulcesima “Dulce” de Leon, a 77-year-old deaconess, listened intently to the Bible-based preaching of Brother Eduardo Manalo. She said, “Being righteous before the sight of God will make me worthy of His help and mercy, especially nowadays when this world is full of misery and suffering.”
As the oldest deaconess in the Domalandan Congregation, Sister Dulce inspires her fellow Church officers and the young brethren by dedicating herself to the duty entrusted to her by God. She shares how her life dramatically changed when she accepted the duty of being a deaconess. “Before, I was sickly. I used to get hospitalized almost every month. According to my doctor’s diagnosis, I was suffering from vertigo and there was an obstruction in a vein in my heart. But I was not disheartened by my condition. I believe that as I perform my duty, God will not abandon me. I entrust my life to Him,” she shared.
By the grace of the Lord God, after several medications, Sister Dulce was cured from her illness in 2018. “I felt strengthened physically, all the more spiritually. I find joy and consolation whenever I perform my Church duties during worship services.”
With renewed spiritual strength from the worship service, Sister Dulce, despite her old age, vowed to remain zealous in her services to God until the end of her life or until Christ’s return, whichever comes first.
By Kenia Caszandra Rebong
When he was introduced to the Church Of Christ in 1995, Brother Carlos “Caloy” Tubbali immediately felt he was at the right place in his search for the truth about God and the true religion. Through attending Bible studies and worship services, it became clear to him who the true God is. He recalls, “The teachings kept me motivated to continue. I learned that I’m indeed in the true Church.” With God’s abiding help, he was baptized into the Church on January 6, 1996.
Brother Caloy is currently registered in the Local Congregation of Sampaloc, Ecclesiastical District of Manila. As their local congregation commemorated its 102nd anniversary, the brethren there were blessed to witness the worship service led by Brother Eduardo Manalo through livestreaming. Inspired by the lesson, Brother Caloy said, “Especially in times of difficult situations, my faith as a Church Of Christ member remains unwavering because my goal is to attain the promised salvation.”
Remembering his experience in March 2021, Brother Caloy shared, “I suffered from a heart attack while I was at work.” Entrusting himself to God, he said, “The first thing I did was pray to God. I asked and begged Him to add more years to my life, so that I could still take care of my family and fulfill my Church duties.” Despite his condition, performing his duty as a deacon and Buklod president of their local congregation remained pivotal in his life. “I do not let the day pass by without joining Church activities, particularly in the activities of the Christian Family Organizations and in the works of propagation,” he said. After a few months, he fully recovered.
As Brother Caloy and his family highly value God’s teachings that they always receive from the Church Administration, they will always stand their ground in remaining in the Church Of Christ until the end. “As the head of the family, I constantly remind my wife and children to uphold a Christian way of life, abide by every command of God, and hold devotional prayers.”
Sinulat ni Francis Rowen Yusi
“Taong 2019 nang ako ay nag-graduate. Noong taon ding iyon, kumuha ako ng board exam upang maging licensed teacher subalit hindi ako nakapasa,” pag-aalaala ni Kapatid na Irish Jem Zita. Susubok sana siya ulit na kumuha ng exam noong March 2020, subalit nagkaroon naman ng pandemya kaya hindi ito natuloy.
Para kay Kapatid na Irish, sa kabila ng mga kabiguan sa buhay ay sa Panginoong Diyos lamang siya nagtitiwala sapagkat Siya ang tanging makapagkakaloob ng pagtatagumpay. Patuloy siyang nanghahawak sa magagawa ng Diyos upang matupad ang kaniyang pangarap. “Kapag may dumarating na pagsubok sa akin, sinasabi ko na lilipas din ito. Hindi naman ibibigay sa akin ng Ama ang pagsubok kung hindi ko kaya. Pagkatapos kong manalangin, panatag na ako,” paninindigan niya.
Pagkalipas ng dalawang taon, muling nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na muling kumuha ng pagsusulit si Kapatid na Irish noong Marso 2022. Ginawa niya ang kaniyang bahagi upang siya ay tulungan ng Panginoong Diyos. “Naglaan ako ng panahon sa pag-aaral. Subalit, higit sa lahat, nagtakda ako ng pagpapanata. Sumasampalataya ako na walang imposible sa Diyos,” pahayag niya.
Sa kabila ng pagiging abala sa paghahanda para sa board exam, hindi pinabayaan ni Kapatid na Irish ang kaniyang mga paglilingkod sa Diyos. Masigla niyang tinupad ang kaniyang tungkulin bilang isang mang-aawit, kalihim, at maytungkulin sa Pagsamba ng Kabataan (PNK) sa Lokal ng Lubao, Distrito Eklesiastiko ng Pampanga West.
Habang hinihintay ni Kapatid na Irish ang resulta ng pagsusulit, isang malaking biyaya ang ipinagkaloob ng Diyos sa kanilang lokal. Bilang paggunita sa ika-102 taon ng pagkakatatag nito, napabilang ang kanilang lokal sa mga nakasaksi sa pagsambang pinangasiwaan ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo. Natutuhan niya mula sa pagtuturo ng Namamahala na, “Hindi pababayaan ng Diyos ang mga lingkod niyang matuwid. Sa kabila ng pagsubok na akin pang kahaharapin, magpapatuloy ako sa kasiglahan,” saad niya.
Sa araw ding iyon, pagkatapos ng pagsamba, natanggap ni Kapatid na Irish ang balitang siya ay pumasa sa pagsusulit. Pahayag niya, “Iniaalay ko ang tagumpay na ito sa Ama. Hindi ko ito nagawa kung hindi dahil sa awa at tulong Niya.”
Pulong Malaki, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija
Sinulat ni Ranilyn Adriano
“Naaalala ko pa kung gaano kami kasaya ng asawa ko noong nalaman naming siya’y nagdadalang-tao,” pagbabalik-tanaw ni Kapatid na Arnel Enriquez. Tunay na hindi masukat ang ligayang nadama nilang mag-asawa sapagkat siyam na taon nilang hinintay na sila’y mabiyayaan ng supling.
Gayunman, makalipas lamang ang apat na buwan, inatake sa puso ang maybahay ni Kapatid na Arnel. “Biglaan ang lahat. Nagising kaming hirap nang huminga ang aking asawa. Isinugod namin siya sa ospital subalit bago pa makarating doon ay binawian na siya ng buhay, kasama ang sana’y magiging anak namin,” paglalahad niya.
Mabigat, mahirap, nakapanlulumo—gayon ang pakiramdam ni Kapatid na Arnel sa sitwasyong iyon sa kaniyang buhay noong 2020. Gayunman, hindi siya napadaig dito at sumuko. Inilagak niya ang kaniyang pagtitiwala sa Panginoong Diyos sa paraang ibinuhos niya ang kaniyang panahon sa paglilingkod sa Kaniya at pagtupad ng tungkulin bilang diakono at bilang miyembro ng SCAN. Ang kaniyang pananalig: “Ang Diyos lamang ang makapagbibigay ng tulong sa atin upang makalagpas sa pagsubok na itinulot Niyang pagdaanan natin.”
Lalo pang tumibay ang pananalig na ito nang marinig ni Kapatid na Arnel ang pagtuturo ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan, ang Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo, sa pagsambang kaniyang pinangasiwaan. Pahayag ni Kapatid na Arnel, “Gaya ng ipinapayo ng Namamahala, bilang mga kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo, bagaman hindi karaniwan ang mga pagsubok sa ating panahon, dapat tayong mamalaging sumusunod sa mga utos ng Diyos at tumutupad ng ating tungkulin.”
Taglay ang panibagong inspirasyon, handa si Kapatid na Arnel na ipagpatuloy ang kaniyang maalab na paglilingkod sa Panginoong Diyos. Sa ganitong paraan, sumasampalataya siyang patuloy niyang mararanasan ang Kaniyang pag-ibig.