Pastoral Visit of the Executive Minister: Visayas Avenue, Quezon City
February 2, 2019
Written by Melissa delos Reyes
Not being a stranger to Visayas Avenue in Quezon City, Philippines, I have witnessed how it has transformed from a once quiet stretch of road to a now bustling commercial area that continues to develop. Different establishments rise in the area almost every year, inviting people from other places in the city and the outskirts to come and enjoy the variety of food and amenities they offer. But despite this progress, many people residing in the vicinity still dwell in depressed areas. Some of them have been hardly getting by—which I believe reflects the worsening condition of the world at present. As shown by statistics, global issues such as poverty, hunger, and unemployment continue to plague this world causing many to lose hope.
However, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) are able to handle problems through the inspiration brought by the words of God that they receive during their worship services to Him. On February 2, 2019, the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, officiated at the worship service at the Local Congregation of Visayas Avenue, Ecclesiastical District of Central. It was also the first worship service that the Executive Minister officiated after his return to the Philippines from a series of pastoral visitations in different countries in Asia early this year.
Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded the brethren in his Bible-based preaching that the unending crises that happen in the world now are proofs of the approaching Day of Judgment. And so they should aspire for salvation even more, remaining active members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo who confidently trust in God and live a righteous way of life.
After the worship service, some of the brethren I had the opportunity to speak with told me their real-life stories as they reflected upon what the Executive Minister taught. Brother Rogel Flores, who has been a choir director for 30 years, narrated, “My wife died. A few years after, I was then confined for many months in a hospital due to an illness; and during that time, my eldest son died in an accident.” His experience was so tragic that he came to say, “I felt like I was being stripped away of everything.”
At present, Brother Rogel is undergoing dialysis treatment. Nevertheless, he has never stopped performing his duties, attending worship services, and participating in activities launched by the Church Administration. He said he does these because it is his firm conviction that: “When facing trials, we should never stop attending worship services to God and calling on Him.” As to why, he said, “The lessons taught during worship services and praying fervently to God are my sources of strength.”
Sister Lydia Caliva’s story has a different angle. She has been hands-on in taking care of her 92-year-old parents in their fragile condition for more than 30 years. Whenever they attend the worship service, her mother, who is unable to walk, needs to be carried down from the second floor of the building where they live and her father needs to be closely assisted while walking. Nevertheless, Sister Lydia and her parents never cease to attend the worship services.
Sister Lydia said, “That is our duty as servants of God—to worship and praise Him—no matter what trials we go through.” It is her faith that they are not at the losing end when they attend the worship services even if it entails sacrifices. As she learned from what was taught by the Church Administration, she said, “It is very important to attend the worship service because it is there where we are also able to confide our worries in God and receive the strength that we need to overcome trials in life.”
Brother Virgilio Vinoya, a deacon and a Buklod officer, shared how he regards the worship services: “Even if we attain all the riches in life, they would be meaningless if we end up forsaking the worship services. When we attend the worship service, we feel God’s presence and our hearts are filled with gladness. No matter how difficult life is, through the help of God, we will be able to face all the problems and challenges in life.”
While I was talking with the brethren, I was also pondering on what Brother Eduardo Manalo taught. He taught from the Bible that those who truly trust in God are confident in what He can do in their life no matter what circumstances they face. They continue to attend the worship services even when they are having troubles in life.
A young member, Sister Precious Asuncion who is a choir member, a local secretary, and a Binhi officer, also shared her outlook in life. She firmly believes that everyone has his own share of trials, even they who are in the adolescent stage. Regarding such, she expressed her decision, “We must stay away from the things that will hinder us from fulfilling the duties that God has entrusted to us.” In order to do so, she expressed, “We should be careful in choosing the people we associate ourselves with and make sure to stay away from bad influences.”
True members of the Church really keep in their hearts God’s commands that the Church Administration teaches. As the Executive Minister taught, those who live righteously—which is one of the traits God expects from those who aspire for salvation—constantly renew their lives. Understanding this, Brother Rogel expressed, “We cannot just choose only the commandments that we want to follow. God wants to see how His servants would heed all His teachings.”
In addition, Brother Virgilio said, “Having received the right to salvation, it is important for members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo to live in accordance with God’s will. Will we only follow and serve God when we are not having troubles in life? No, it is during difficult times that we can all the more show God that no matter what happens, we will still follow and serve Him.”
Despite the brethren’s different difficult situations, they are able to uphold their divine election by obeying God’s commands and to continue standing strong during these hard and trying times. As I also recall the Executive Minister’s Bible-based preaching, I am even more inspired to hold on firmly to my membership in the Church and to follow all the laws of God whatever may come in my journey. This will not only help me deal with the problems that the world brings but also help me make sure of receiving salvation because such actions are what God seeks from those who aspire for it.