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We are heirs of God’s promise


PEOPLE GREATLY VALUE a variety of things, including their very lives, peace of mind, rights and freedoms in this life, education, dignity or reputation, material wealth, profession or career, accomplishments, intellectual prowess, and families and lineage, among many others.

Members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) also consider these as important but what they regard as more valuable than anything, even more than their very life, is their divine election. For, by virtue of it they are heirs of God for whom are reserved the greatest blessings that are incomparable to anything in this world—the Holy City and the everlasting life.

Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Church’s Executive Minister, reminded the brethren of this truth during the worship service he officiated at the Local Congregation of San Fernando, Ecclesiastical District of Pampanga East on October 14, 2022. Among those in attendance were 36 new ministers ordained by the Executive Minister, and brethren from ecclesiastical districts and local congregations around the world that celebrated their milestone anniversaries.

One of the newly ordained ministers, Brother Nehemias Dungca, said, “When I was studying to be a minister, I was far from my family. What strengthened my resolve then was my promise to God that I will be a minister someday. To be a minister is my lifetime commitment to Him.”

Brother Mark Ace Paor, another ordainee and was once assigned in a remote island in Marinduque, recounted, “There was a Church member in my care that when I had to visit, I had to trek mountain slopes and cross river tributaries just to get to him. But such experience did not dampen my desire to be ordained one day. And now, I give thanks to God that He gave what I have been praying for.”

Brethren from the local congregations celebrating their respective milestone anniversaries also have stories to share. Here are some of them:

The house of worship of the Local Congregation of San Fernando, Pampanga

‘Let us praise God forever’
San Fernando, Pampanga
By Jomar Manaloto

In his 82 years of age, Brother Conrado Mendiola Sr., a deacon and finance officer, had overcome a lot of trials and persecutions as proof of his loyalty to the Lord God.

Brother Conrado still vividly remembers how challenging it was to be a member of the Church Of Christ and to propagate the words of God during the time of Brother Felix Y. Manalo, the Messenger of God in these last days.

“I remember when we were conducting an evangelical mission. People threw rocks at us that there was a point where I was hit on my legs and my aunt was hit on her head. Instead of being afraid, we went to the corner of the room and prayed fervently to our Lord God so the activity would still be fruitful and successful,” he recalled.

As more turbulence in Brother Conrado’s life came, from natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes and the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, to his deteriorating health due to old age, the words of God taught by Brother Felix Manalo remain instilled in his heart and mind.

“I always remember what Brother Felix frequently told us: ‘Believe what the Bible is saying because these are the words of God.’ That is what made my faith strong. I witnessed the fulfillment of God’s promises not only to the entire Church but also to each one of us.”

Years may have passed, but Brother Conrado still remembers and shares with the younger generations of Church members and officers the same lessons he learned from the Messenger and are still being tirelessly taught by Brother Eduardo Manalo:

“Whenever life is difficult, set a devotional prayer to our Lord God. We should always attend our worship services and be faithful in fulfilling our duties. Let us praise God forever.”

Brother Conrado adds, “And if we are being encouraged to hold duties as Church officers, we should wholeheartedly accept them because such are gifts from God and our divine election is our only wealth. By doing so, we are sure to please our Lord God and receive His blessings.”

Trust the Lord, and do what is good
Tagakpan, Davao City
By Felma Lubenario

As the Local Congregation of Tagakpan celebrates its 70th anniversary, Sister Beatriz Ico looks back on the 49 years and counting of her being the congregation’s choir leader. One of the pioneering members in Tagakpan, she is now 72 years old. As a long-time Church member, she is no stranger to life’s travails. Nonetheless, she never wavers in her conviction:

“We all go through various tests in life, and these trials vary in severity. But for whatever problem I face, I have only one solution and that is to pray to God everyday. I learned from our Church leaders even then, that God will not give us a test we cannot pass,” Sister Beatriz shared.

Her steadfast faith was even more edified when she heard Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Church’s Executive Minister, preach the words of God as her local congregation was among those connected to the livestreamed worship service. She fondly recollects Brother Eduardo Manalo’s message during the sacred gathering:

“Trust God, and do what is good. This is also what I will always remind my family. Have faith in God and continue to fulfill what He commands.”

Sister Beatriz Ico

Sister Beatriz remembered the time when her trust in God was put to test. In 2012, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. During that time, she witnessed how incredibly hard her husband’s daily living had become as he had great difficulty in eating and speaking. She remembers even today how her heart ached seeing her beloved spouse wither and eventually pass away.

Throughout her husband’s sickness, Sister Beatriz recalls, he never missed to attend a worship service. “While our family then was deep in weariness and pain, we all remained active members of the Church performing our Church duties,” she shared.

For her, this test made her understand that she is never on her own, as God is always by her and her family’s side. She expressed, “The Almighty Father did not forsake us. My children and I mourned. However, He guided us in times when we were weak.”

Almost a decade has passed after their sad experience, but she continues reminding her children, who now have families of their own, to never fail in performing their obligations to God and to always put in their hearts and minds the teachings they receive in the Church.

“I always tell them, do not forget to pray to God, and never lose hope whatever we all encounter. We promise God to fulfill our Church duties and that is what we will all do no matter what happens. And when the burdens seem too heavy to bear, we can wait expectantly that God will always act for our sake.”

‘Tunay na mabuti ang Diyos’
Isabela, Negros Occidental
Sinulat ni April Ann Denaga

May hindi malilimutang pangyayari sa kaniyang buhay si Kapatid na Noelo Ciocon, pangulong diakono ng Lokal ng Isabela, na nagugunita niya kapag sumasapit ang anibersaryo ng kanilang lokal. “Agosto 29, 1998—nagkasakit ang nag-iisa naming anak at dinala sa ospital,” pagsasalaysay niya. Ilang linggo na lamang at itatalaga na ang gusaling sambahan ng lokal nila noon. Bilang pangulong diakono, maraming gampanin ang nakatakda sa kaniya para sa napipintong pagsapit ng okasyong iyon.

“Kinabukasan, nagsimula na ang panata para sa pagtatalaga ng gusaling sambahan. Sa panahong iyon, ako ay litong-lito sa sitwasyon na nang ako ay may mahalagang gampanin ay nasa pagamutan ang aking anak. Ang naisip ko—ito ay pagsubok ng Diyos sa aking pananampalataya, kung ano ang aking dapat na ipagpapauna.”

Itinuring ni Kapatid na Noelo na ang pangyayaring iyon sa kaniyang buhay ay isang pagsubok ng Diyos sa kaniya. Kaya, inilagak niya ang buong pagtitiwala sa Diyos,

“Nagpasiya ako na ipagpauna ang makatupad ng aking tungkulin. Ipinaubaya ko sa Panginoong Diyos ang kalagayan ng aking anak.”

Ang desisyong iyon ang kinikilala niyang dahilan kaya kinalinga siya ng Diyos. Gumaling sa sakit ang kaniyang anak at masiglang tumutupad ngayon ng tungkulin bilang mang-aawit sa lokal. “Dulot ng pagsubok na iyon,” ani Kapatid na Noelo, “lalo pang tumatag at tumibay ang aming pananampalataya at pagtitiwala sa Diyos.”

Kapatid na Noelo Ciocon at ang kaniyang pamilya

Sa 53 na taon na pagiging kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo, at nagsimulang humawak ng tungkulin bilang Pangulong KADIWA ng lokal, si Kapatid na Noelo ay 30 taon nang pangulong diakono ng lokal, at ang kaniyang buong sambahayan ay mga maytungkulin din sa Iglesia. Ang hangarin ng kaniyang puso at ng kaniyang pamilya ay magkaroon sila ng sapat na magagamit araw-araw at, higit sa lahat, maitaguyod ang kanilang paglilingkod at pagtupad ng tungkulin.

Sabi ni Kapatid na Noelo, “Itinuro ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo na ang magagawa ng Panginoong Diyos ay hindi natin kayang mahulaan. Ang mabuting hangarin ng puso ng Kaniyang mga lingkod ay Kaniyang diringgin at nagkakaloob Siya ng higit pa sa ating hinihiling.” Kaya, sumasampalataya siya na dahil sa kasiglahan ng kanilang sambahayan sa paglilingkod sa Diyos ay nagkaloob Siya ng malaking biyaya sa kanilang pamilya. “Ipinagkaloob pa Niya na makatapos at makapagtrabaho ang aking anak,” wika ni Kapatid na Noelo.

Kinikilala ni Kapatid na Noelo na ang lahat ng ginawa ng Diyos sa kaniya at sa kaniyang pamilya ay bunga ng pagtitiwala niya sa Diyos. Pahayag niya, “Tunay na mabuti ang Diyos. Ang magtiwala sa Kaniyang magagawa sa pamamagitan ng pagpapanata ay napakahalaga sapagkat sa pamamagitan nito, diringgin Niya tayo.” Ang isa sa mga mensahe sa mga pagsamba na tumatak sa kaniyang isipan ay ang lalong pagpapakasigla sa pagtupad ng tungkulin at lalong panghahawak at pagtitiwala sa Panginoong Diyos.

Sa kabila ng lalong bumibigat na pagdadala ng buhay ay taglay pa rin ni Kapatid na Noelo ang matibay na pananalig at pagtitiwala sa Diyos. Pangako rin niya, “Bilang pangulong diakono, lalo akong magpapasakop sa Ama at sa Pamamahala sa anumang tagubilin at tuntunin sa pangunguna sa aming lokal.”

‘Hindi ipagkakait ng Diyos ang ating kailangan’
Hagonoy, Taguig City, Metro Manila
Sinulat ni Gerlie Barete

Hindi na bagong bagay sa mga hinirang ng Panginoong Diyos ang makaranas ng iba’t ibang pagsubok—ito ang paninindigan ni Kapatid na Neftali Cardozo o mas kilala bilang Ka Tali, pangulong diakono ng Lokal ng Hagonoy, bagaman hindi naging pangkaraniwan ang mga dumating na pagsubok sa buhay niya.

“Noong malapit nang ipanganak ang aming panganay, nasuri na ang batang nasa sinapupunan ng aking asawa ay walang buhay. Nanganib din ang buhay ng aking kabiyak dahil sa kalagayan ng bata. Nang pagkakataong isinugod sa ospital ang aking asawa, ako ay nasa pagtupad sa pagsamba.” Nang naiparating na sa kaniya noon ang kalagayan ng kaniyang mag-ina, sinikap ni Kapatid na Neftali na panatilihing nakatalaga ang kanyang sarili sa isinasagawang pagtupad at taimtim na ipinaubaya sa Panginoong Diyos ang kalagayan ng kaniyang asawa.

Nang muling suriin ang kalagayan ng kanilang anak ay napatunayang buhay pa ito—taliwas sa naging resulta ng unang pagsusuri sa bata. At nang makarating si Kapatid na Neftali sa ospital ay maayos na ang kalagayan ng kaniyang mag-ina. “Nagpapasalamat ako sa Ama sapagkat maayos na naisilang ang aking anak at hindi naapektuhan ang aking asawa. Sila ay naligtas sa panganib.”

Kapatid na Neftali Cardozo

Batid ni Kapatid na Neftali na ang pangyayaring ito ay isang pagsubok lamang sa kaniya at itinuturing niyang pag-ibig ng Panginoong Diyos.

“Lalong pinatatag ng karanasang iyon ang aking pag-asa na kapag ang lahat ng bagay ay itiniwala natin sa Diyos, hindi Niya ipagkakait na ibigay ang ating pangangailangan,” ayon pa sa kaniya.

Pinangungunahan ni Ka Tali ang kaniyang buong sambahayan sa masiglang paglilingkod sa Diyos. Lumaki ang lahat ng kaniyang mga anak na masiglang tumutupad ng tungkulin. Walang anumang bagay ang hinayaan niyang humadlang sa kanilang paglilingkod, kahit pa ang kadalamhatian. 

Palibhasa’y prayoridad ni Kapatid na Neftali ang pagtupad, banggit niya: “Bago pa nagkaroon ng pandemya ng Covid-19, ang aking maybahay ay namayapa na. Masaklap mang maituturing subalit nagpatuloy pa rin ako sa pagtupad ng aking tungkulin at pagdalo sa mga aktibidad at gawain.”

Puspos na ng mga karanasan si Ka Tali na may 74 taong gulang na. Palaging payo niya sa kanyang pagdadalaw sa mga kapatid, “Natutuhan natin sa Pamamahala na huwag tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa bagkus lalo tayong magtalaga at magtiwala sa Diyos sa panahon ng mga pagsubok. Sa mga karamdaman, ipinagkakaloob ng Ama ang kagalingan, sa mga paglalakbay, ipinagkakaloob Niya ang proteksyon. Dapat ay makita lamang sa bawat isa ang matapat na paglilingkod sa Kaniya.”

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