“I will explain to them why we are enforcing the law — it is for their protection and safety.” — Neil Sarez, front-line police officer

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The twilight looming over the agricultural town of Pagbilao cues the end of another day. While families at home are getting ready to sleep, police officer Neil Sarez prepares for a long night ahead.

Neil belongs to a team of cops manning the checkpoints of Pagbilao in the province of Quezon, Philippines. From his humble home in Lucena City, he reports daily for his 9 PM to 9 AM shift. Since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, aside from preserving peace and order in the community, part of his work now involves enforcing the town’s quarantine rules. 

While serving his post, Neil and his team come across people from all walks of life — and inevitably, to the constant risk of exposure to Covid-19. Apart from the risk of contagion, having to deal with people attempting to circumvent quarantine rules adds to his daily struggle. 

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“It’s mostly the elderly people who drive without their license that I deal with at the checkpoint. There are also some who insist on going out just to earn and survive through honest means. If only I could help them.”

The declaration of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine immensely affected the normal business operations and livelihood of people. This prompted an exodus of people from the metropolis to their respective hometowns. As Neil narrated, he had encountered some who have travelled from Manila on foot. While he is fortunate that he can still go home to his family every day, it’s already been weeks since he last talked to his wife personally.

“After my 12-hour duty, I stay at the first floor of our house while my family is upstairs. My wife and I can only talk to each other through our mobile phones for safety reasons.”

The whole world is still navigating through uncertainty from a battle against an unseen enemy, but Neil’s high hopes for the future remains unfazed. When the crisis is over, he plans to reconcile with the people he inevitably had misunderstanding while he was on duty. 

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“When this is over, I will apologize to those whom I might have angered and offended, and I will explain to them why we are enforcing the law — it is for their protection and safety.”

He has a short reminder for his fellow front-liners:

“To my comrades, before we perform our duties, let us pray for guidance. I have hope that one day, all these will end, and we will continue serving for the good of our country and for the glory of God.”

“Despite the stinking smell of garbage, I must do my job.” — Michael Gonzales, front-line garbage collector

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When Luzon was put in lockdown on March 16, most businesses and establishments in the National Capital Region ceased normal operations: offices, restaurants, factories, schools, malls were closed down to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

While movement of people had been restricted since then, the delivery of essential services like health care, markets and grocery stores, delivery, garbage collection, continued. People who belong in these groups have been tagged as front-liners — the modern-day heroes who unselfishly perform their work despite the risk posed by Covid-19.

One of these front-liners is Michael Gonzales, a garbage collector and sanitation worker of five years, who has been rounding up trash from homes in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

“I still go to work every day. Despite the stinking smell of garbage that I have to endure, I must do my job. It’s my source of livelihood.”

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Cabanatuan City is the most populous area in Nueva Ecija and the fifth in Central Luzon. If Michael and his fellows in the sanitary services will stop in the performance of their duties, the sidestreets of the city will overflow with garbage, the city will reek, and consequently, the health of the residents will be put at greater risk.

Thank God, they haven’t stopped.

Every day, Michael gets up very early for his 5 AM shift, as his routine is, unmindful of the life-threatening virus infecting hundreds of Filipinos by the hour.

“Even if there’s a virus spreading, I must be brave and depend on the mercy of the Lord.”

He said that a couple of times since the lockdown, he and his fellow collectors have received relief goods from the people in their neighborhood — a small gesture of gratitude for their continuing their service amidst the pandemic.

The community quarantine is still in effect in many areas of Luzon. Everything still remains uncertain and public health and safety are still at risk. 

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But just the same, Michael will still collect garbage and clean up the streets of Cabanatuan even after the quarantine. Despite the risk, as a Christian, he finds comfort in the words of the Almighty written in the Bible.

“Let’s stay inside our homes. Let’s sacrifice so that Covid-19 will no longer spread.”

“I can’t leave my colleagues in this battle. Who am I not to engage?” — Jovic Bermas, front-line nurse, Covid-19 survivor

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The hospital operates 24/7.

It sits in the innermost part of London, England. With about 360 beds and an untainted history older than the two world wars of the 20th century, it is regarded as one of the major medical facilities in Europe.

It has two zones: green and red. The green zone handles various conditions; the red zone is purely for Covid-19 cases. This zoning system was only introduced when a number of the hospital’s health professionals have been tested positive for Covid-19 in the past two months. One of them is Jovic De Leon Bermas, a Filipino.

Jovic is in his fifth year working in the hospital, and in that span of time, he confessed that he has never seen a catastrophe like the Covid-19 pandemic. The 33-year old senior emergency room nurse said that the news of a strange infection — reported as a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China — reached his facility’s awareness in January this year. The news was not taken seriously, a reaction similar with the initial reaction of other countries. By the end of February, the number of suspected Covid-19 patients in the hospital increased exponentially. But still, he was not alarmed.

There was no personal protective equipment (PPE) then. Guidelines and policies were set up, but were not strictly observed. He followed his routine just like his colleagues. Triage patients. Noted down complaints. Chest pain? UTI? Abdominal pain? Severe headache? Past medical history. Nature of symptoms. Medications taken. Vital signs. 

March 21, Saturday. After toiling a 12-hour shift, Jovic was greeted by low grade fever with gastrointestinal difficulties. Sore throat. Headache. Muscle and joint pain. He also had sleeping troubles.

He was shivering the whole night even if the heater was on full blast and his thick, smooth duvet covered him.

“I was frightened. I was puzzled about what might happen next.”

He wondered how he got infected. As a tenured nurse who works in the emergency department pictured with a relentless influx of suspected Covid-19 patients, one would assume he got the virus while on duty.

He cried. So hard.

He had no relatives in London. Curled up, he thought about his family, his colleagues, his boss, his brethren in the church. How would they react?  He was horrified, unable to process the gravity of the situation.

That night, in a little room just three minutes away by foot from his workplace, he pondered on his life, his fate. Alone.

Since he had normal breathing patterns and no shortness of breath, he self-quarantined. He did not leave his room.

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Day 2. On top of the symptoms which had manifested on Day 1, his body temperature for the second day reached 39 degrees Celsius. He was shivering. He had colds. He stayed in his bed all day.

Day 3. He experienced intermittent fever. He started to lose some of his vital senses: smell and taste. Consequently, he lost his appetite. However, he forced himself to eat to regain strength and for his body to absorb the nourishment and boost his immune system. But he was still lethargic.

Day 4. Jovic was able to successfully work on some simple tasks without putting much strain on his body. His upper back was sore. He had to work on semi-Fowler’s position where the upper body is elevated to 45 degrees. There were traces of improvements on his condition. Even so, he gave in to the invitation of his bed. His sleeping pattern had been disturbed. He slept for four hours, at best.

On April 2, the 12th day of his self-isolation, he got his nose and throat swabbed by UK health workers for his Covid-19 test.

Two days later, he received a message. “I’ve tried to call you but haven’t been able to get hold of you. I hope you’re starting to feel better. Your swab has come back positive for Covid-19.” 

Yes. Positive. Written in bold letters.

Jovic didn’t feel anything when he got the result. He expected it. He prepared for it. The test, he thought, was just a mechanism to make it official, for doubts to subside, for the process of acceptance to begin.

Naturally, when he informed his family and friends through chat and video calls of his sorry state during his first week of self-quarantine, everyone was filled with emotions. They cried. They worried. They wished they were with him. They asked him to resign and to just return home. But he downplayed their request.

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“I can’t leave my colleagues in this battle. If everyone’s scared, who will take care of the sick? What if my loved ones become ill? Will the health workers just give up on them because of the strange climate we’re in? There are those who have already retired but are now courageously manning the frontlines to help, to contribute, to be part of the solution. Who am I not to engage?”

He didn’t report to work for 28 days. During his isolation period, he was assisted by his best friend Gisele, a Filipina nurse, for his everyday needs. She cooked sinigang (pork and vegetables cooked in tamarind-based broth), adobo, (pork or chicken that is steeped and cooked in soy sauce and vinegar) and other meals for him, prepared lemon tea with honey and ginger, and bought fresh apples, bananas, and clementines for snacks. For fever and pain, he took paracetamol. To stop the virus from multiplying, he opted for zinc fortified with copper, vitamin C, and Carcetin (powerful bioflavonoids). He also welcomed the advice of getting high doses of vitamin C via IV injection or drip since he was trained to do the procedure.

To keep his spirits high, for weeks, he religiously watched the live broadcast of Kuya Daniel Razon and Bro. Eli Soriano on Instagram and YouTube through KDR TV. In the program, Kuya Daniel interviewed medical doctors and experts to heighten the public’s awareness on the intricacies, extent, and projections of Covid-19. Bro. Eli, as one of the speakers, provided biblical truths for the viewers to understand God’s message about pestilences and plagues, and why crises like Covid-19 happen to humanity.

His faith in God kept him afloat in those trying times. He said that like the morning sun, the verse Philippians 4:6-7 reverberates with rays of hope in his being: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

As of this writing, the United Kingdom has more than 165,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 26,000 reported deaths. The hospital where Jovic works has registered 89 casualties because of the infection. In the whole of the UK, 100 health workers have lost their lives due to the virus.

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Now that he has fully recovered and has returned to work, Jovic is enraptured to perform his duty as a nurse again, now that the hospital’s leadership has made some key decisions and adjustments in handling Covid-19 cases. He simply cannot find it in his heart to abandon the oath he took, his colleagues who have been with him through thick and thin, and the opportunity to show love and compassion to others. He hopes that by doing his job with sincerity and dedication, God will show him mercy and guard over his loved ones who are miles away.

The soon-to-be convalescent plasma donor, front-liner, and Covid-19 survivor has this to say:

“I would like the public to know that all patients who will be going to the green zone during my shift will be served as best as I can while observing safe distancing. I will look after them like they are family. And if there is a need for me to go to the red zone — with full personal protective equipment on — I will, without a doubt, say yes.”

Editor’s Note: Bro. Jovic requested the editorial staff not to disclose the name of the hospital where he is working.

A Mother’s Love

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A woman becomes a mother on the day that she conceives a child. For nine months, she has to endure certain inconveniences and discomforts, while observing care and caution for the sake of the child in her womb. But all the travails that go with child-bearing are readily forgotten the moment she gives birth to her child. Nothing is remembered but the joy and bliss that the little fragile creature brings.

A mother’s love can be felt in the simplest of things, from home-cooked meals to folded laundry, and warm hugs to comforting words. Though there are days when these small efforts go unappreciated, a mother’s love is one of the truest forms of love one can have. A virtuous woman, according to the Bible, is described in Proverbs 31:10-31.

In the Members Church of God International (MCGI), mothers are celebrated and loved every day. Watch these messages of love and appreciation of some of our brethren and children in the Church for their mothers, each expressing their gratitude to God for having them in their lives.

 

“Great are mothers for humanity,
they should not only be remembered for one day.”

Bro. Eli Soriano

 

Funny

She is always so funny and exciting. She is so sweet.

When asked for a word to describe her mother, little Sherilean Salvador said her mother is funny. Her mother never fails to make her laugh and smile, that is why she is thankful to God for her.

Behind her tired eyes, a mother makes time to craft creative activities just to get her child excited. Seeing her child happy is consoling. From silly faces to amusing jokes, a mother will do anything to put a smile on her child’s face.

Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.

(Proverbs 23:25, KJV)

 

Nice

“I hope you stay strong and healthy forever and ever.”

For Dhanes Mangiliman, her mother is someone she and her family can’t live without. As she’s the person who looks after them, she describes her mother as nice.

The selfless acts of a mother show the great care she has for her loved ones. She is a heroine. Even though it could mean less comfort for her, a mother finds power in taking care of her loved ones and making sure they are safe and secure. It is through kindness that she is able to fulfill her duty as a caretaker of the household.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

(Proverbs 31:28, KJV)

 

Compassionate

“My mom really means the whole world to me.”

Without the love, care, and support of Ron Rodriguez’s mother towards him and his siblings, he believes they wouldn’t be where they are today. He is thankful to God that they were able to achieve the things they want in life through his mother.

From a child’s first crawl to his first few steps, until he leaves her sight to pursue his dreams, a mother will always be his support, even as he has achieved his goals.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

(Proverbs 31:27, KJV)

 

Protective

“She’s not just a mother but also a friend to me.”

For Sofia Louise Rodriguez, her mother is someone she can completely rely on. She knows her as her first teacher and is proud to say that until today, she still learns a lot from her.

Mothers teach us lessons that they have already learned themselves. They go through the pain to spare us from the things they have suffered. It is in a mother’s nature to protect her child at all cost.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

(Proverbs 31:26, KJV)

 

Survivor

I pray that God will bless you with a long, happy, and healthy life.

Survivor this is how Elisa Dallo describes her mother. She always includes her mother in her prayers, for her to have a long, happy, and healthy life.

Scars that heal, tears that dry, and broken hearts that mend are the things that mothers experience. Although they undergo immense pressure, they are able to handle problems with calm and grace with the help of God. They are beautiful survivors that smile through all kinds of pain.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

(Proverbs 31:25, KJV)

 

Compassionate

My mom is a constant source of love, comfort, and support.”

For Maru Oritz, she is indebted to her mother for the sacrifices that she had made. According to her, those are debts she cannot repay. She will always be thankful to God for her mother.

A mother is the best gift God has for a child. For a child to have someone who will love him through and through, in spite of his shortcomings, is a blessing to thank God for every single day.

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

(Isaiah 49:15, KJV)

 

Hard-working

My mom is an inspiration to my life.”

Mark Elliar knows that his mother worked very hard abroad for their family. This got him and his siblings to study, eat, and have what they need and want. She continues to be his life’s inspiration.

A mother loses time for herself to work for the needs of her family. In order to provide for her children, a mother sometimes does the most painful thing leave her children. As time passes, children often forget the efforts of their parents, unmindful of the sleepless nights and tiring days parents go through to give only the best for their children.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

(Proverbs 31:31, KJV)

 

Caring

“My mother is everything to me.”

Jeffrey Eaily vividly recalls how at one time he got sick, his mother never left his side. For that and a whole lot more, he considers that his mother plays an important role in his life.

In times of sickness, a child will always look for his mother. She is a child’s thermometer, medicine, doctor, and everything in between. Throughout a person’s life, a mother’s care is a source of comfort for any ache or pain.

As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

(Isaiah 66:13, KJV)

 

Love

My mom is a hero because she helps me when I am hurt.

Elisa Remanases described her mother as love. Elisa says her mother showers her with love and care especially when she is hurt. She is her hero.

When an infant wakes up in the middle of the night, he finds solace in his mother’s soft embrace. When play-time gets reckless, mom speeds to her child’s rescue. During our most pain-stricken days, a mother’s care is always ready to offer relief. A mother’s love can stop the loudest of tantrums and cover the deepest of scars.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

(Proverbs 31:21, KJV)

Love Your Parents Everyday

“Every day is a day to love a father and a mother!”

Bro. Eli Soriano

Friends may come and go, relationships can turn sour, but the love of a parent to a child lasts a long time. Though such love is repaid by fits of rage and protest, a parent will always treat his child with gentleness.

Thank God every day for your parents and tell them how much you love them. Pray for them always.

MCGI to Hold Second Feast Dedicated to God on November 24

mcgi-feast-dedicated-to-God-Fiesta-ng-Dios
The Music Ministry and Teatro Kristiano offered songs and dances of praise to God during the first Feast Dedicated to God celebration last February 24.

The Members Church of God International (MCGI) will be holding its second Feast Dedicated to God (Fiesta ng Dios) on Sunday, November 24, to culminate the celebration of Ang Dating Daan’s 39th year. Church members and guests will be treated to sumptuous meals, entertainment, and fun activities. The celebration aims to spread God’s love through the joyous occasion.

The Feast Dedicated to God was first held on February 24 this year, a week after MCGI Overall Servant Bro. Eli Soriano called upon the MCGI congregation to join him and celebrate the event. MCGI coordinating centers around the globe were decked in their most festive, and bountiful meals welcomed the disabled and impoverished guests who were prioritized by the Church.

“Ours is a biblical feast. It is a feast for God Almighty,” explained Bro. Eli. “We will do this because we want to obey the whole doctrine of Christ,” he added.

mcgi-feast-dedicated-to-God-Fiesta-ng-Dios
Vibrant colors filled the streets of Apalit, Pampanga, leading to the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center as MCGI brethren paraded and sang songs of praise to God during the first Feast Dedicated to God Celebration on February 24.

“The celebration was enlightening. I felt so much joy! It was the perfect event to bond with family, friends, and brethren. The event helped strengthen my faith,” Frances Poniente, a participant in the first Feast Dedicated to God from Chicago said in an interview.

mcgi-feast-dedicated-to-God-Fiesta-ng-Dios
Brethren and guests who attended the first Feast Dedicated to God in one of MCGI’s coordinating center in Meycauayan, Bulacan were provided with free food and refreshments. Children were the first to be served among hundreds who came to celebrate the event.

“My heart was filled with joy during the celebration. It was a wonderful feeling uniting with brethren from different parts of the world to hear more biblical wisdom and teachings from our preachers,” Erica Borges of Dublin remarked.

With God’s help and mercy, the event is expected to bring in more guests, fun, and excitement to all in attendance.

Finding Poverty and Hardships Not Hindrance, Members in Locale of Magata Give Thanks

At the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, the Locale of Magata offered their song of praise on stage amidst hundred of members in their thanksgiving number for God on March 9, 2013.
Amidst hundreds of members in a thanksgiving number for God, the Locale of Magata offered their song on the stage of the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga on March 9, 2013.

With about 90 members, the Locale of Magata converged with the tens of thousand congregants at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga one regular Thanksgiving service. These members were prepared spiritually to offer their sacrifice of thanksgiving. With kids in tow, they marched on stage to sing their song of praise. These members can still vividly recall their Thanksgiving on March 9, 2013.

“For God’s innumerable kindness, we agreed to offer our thanksgiving as a locale,” remarked Bro. Nestor Vasquez who is one of the pioneer members of the Locale of Magata. “With His grace we were able to, little by little, contribute and raise funds for our fare going to Apalit.”

Ain’t No Valley Low Enough

A far-flung highland of Rizal province in the Philippines, the town of Magata is an area where transportation and electricity are not available. It is as if in this modern-day world, Magata failed to catch up.

Some pointed to the area’s mountainous topography as one to blame why modernity didn’t yet reach Magata. As a result, locals subsist mostly in charcoal trade, raising goats and planting vegetables.

“If we want to make it to our thanksgiving on time, we must leave Magata at around 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. to get to Tanay between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.,” explained Sis Juanita Resureccion, another pioneer member of the locale.

“We have to be on our way to Tanay as early as possible so we don’t miss the public transport,” added Sis. Juanita. The ‘public transport’ she was referring to is a big customized jeep built for the terrain that can even carry people on its top. It only makes one trip per day. “If we’re unlucky and our vehicle got into trouble during the trip, it would take us up to 2 p.m. just to reach Tanay.”

It is from Tanay where they ride regular means of public transport that can take them to Pampanga. City folk can only imagine the inconvenience and discomfort Magata-dwellers bear just to travel to Tanay, let alone another province like Pampanga.

Receiving Love, Giving Thanks

One of the primary reasons why the locale members of Magata offered thanks was because of the installation of a water pump to boost their water supply. “We are also offering thanksgiving because of our preachers, who never forget to care and show their concern for us,” Bro. Nestor further added.

Bro. Daniel Razon learned of Magata’s water problem during one of the Vice-Presiding Minister’s Visita Iglesia activities earlier this year. Bro. Daniel learned of this problem that affected locale members’ daily subsistence. In his willingness to always take advantage of opportunities to do good, Bro. Daniel visited the location of the brethren in Magata and had a water pump with a hose installed.

The Locale of Magata stands on the mountains of Rizal Province in the Philippines. Residents here subsist mostly in charcoal trade, raising goats and planting vegetables.
The Locale of Magata stands on the mountains of Rizal Province in the Philippines. Residents here subsist mostly in charcoal trade, raising goats and planting vegetables.

“The location where we get water is really far. Most of the time we rely from our non-member neighbors who have water hoses. Unfortunately it seems our water supply is cut off during our Saturday Church service or when brethren come visit the locale,” revealed Sis. Juanita.

“With God’s mercy, our prayers were heard and Bro. Daniel assisted us in getting the hose installed.” This kind gesture caused them to feel very blessed again as a locale. As a group who “seldom gets attention from the government,” said Sis. Juanita, they felt relieved with Bro. Daniel’s urgent response to their woes.

Small Wish Granted: (Truckload of) Bread

But it wasn’t the first time they had been recipients of the compassionate acts of Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon. In the Munting Pangarap (Small Wish) project of the MCGI Leaders, one member’s wish was granted in 2001.

“There’s the wife,” said Sis. Juanita, pointing to Sis. Maribel who was laughing on her chair. Asked what Bro. Datoy’s wish was, Sis. Maribel said her husband unblinkingly replied: “Bread. Just bread will do, Bro. Eli.” The modest request touched the hearts of Church members who witnessed the video recording of the gift-giving event played in a Thanksgiving service that year.

When other members from the locale asked him why he only requested for bread, Bro. Batoy casually replied, “Because we very seldom get a taste of bread in the mountains.”

More Than Bread

When the wish was granted, the Dela Cruz family and all of the Magata brethren were surprised not to see baskets of bread, but a whole truckload. Sis. Maribel, recounted that her children didn’t ask for rice during meals that time, but bread instead.

The bigger surprise however came together with the mountain of bread that were delivered to them — by the MCGI Leaders themselves. “It felt surreal,” expressed teary-eyed Bro. Nestor, as he recalled his reaction upon seeing Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel in person.

Youths lining up at the entrance to greet brethren and guests at the Locale of Magata in Rizal Province.
Youths lining up at the entrance to greet brethren and guests at the Locale of Magata in Rizal Province.

“It was a time when you just know that no one can compare our Church to other religions,” stressed Bro. Nestor. “Leaders of other churches wouldn’t even make the effort of reaching out to members like us, especially not to a remote place where we live in. I then realized that our Church satisfies what the Holy Scriptures prescribe to leaders, to visit and see members face to face. And Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel really do.”

The Church leaders also had a satellite dish installed so the brethren there can connect via satellite to Church services. Due to difficult transport facilities and fluctuating electric supply, all Church services in the locale are conducted on Saturdays.

Apart however from the water pump and satellite dish, Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel gave them a generator for use in Church gatherings as well as in indoctrination sessions. According to locale officers, all these helped resolve problems like poor attendance of members who mostly encounter problems making trips back and forth to the area.

Life Goes On

“It’s very hard to get a stable source of income, it was tough even for us. That’s why some of us experienced temporary setbacks from attending our Church services in the previous years,” told Bro. Nestor. “But with God’s mercy, our leaders’ guidance and the assistance of our assigned workers, we were able to pack Saturdays with prayer meeting, thanksgiving and worship service. We’re very thankful.”

With all the daily struggles, not to mention the kind of discomfort they must endure, the Locale of Magata members are a hearty lot of people. Easily laughing at jokes, especially when they remember funny memories shared together as brothers and sisters in faith, they shed tears of joy for their overwhelming gratefulness despite their status in life. These people feel blessed and awed for having faithful leaders and a kind God.

“We have several batches of newly baptized brothers and sisters, which is part of the other big reasons for our thanksgiving. Even if our leaders are physically distant from us, we can feel God’s love and provisions. He has never left us alone, through Bro.Eli and Bro.Daniel,” added Bro Nestor.

His final words,  “As part of our request for our thanksgiving, we pray to God that before He takes Bro. Eli from us to rest for the time being, may we all be able to see him again personally, here in the Philippines.”

Like the disposition of the members of the Locale of Magata, most congregants of Members of the Church of God International (MCGI) can list a measly piece of bread for a wish. They do not grumble, complain and curse when they suffer. Life’s struggles and troubles are part of the package to these Christians. They endure hardships yet they are zealous to offer songs of thanks and praises. It’s their way of life in Christ.

(Words by Apple D. Arco)

(Photo by Rovic Balunsay)

Two Means that Lead to One End: New Life in Christ

Standing before the MCGI Chapel, the Peralta couple went to Apalit, Pampanga, Philippines on March 22, 2013 to be baptized in the Church of God International (MCGI).
While their means of hearing Bro. Eli Soriano were different at first, the Peralta couple was glad that they ended up joining the same Church that he leads.

After staying in the U.S. for many years without a religion, it was in the Philippines where Bro. Aurelio and Sis. Felicitas Peralta finally found their peace of mind after hearing God’s word through the preaching of Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon. 

At first, the ways that became instrumental for the couple to know the truth were different: one through television, the other through radio. In the end, the old couple shared a new beginning together, the day they were baptized unto the Church of God in the Bible.

Two Means, One End

Sis. Felicitas recalled how her nephew learned that she was already watching Bro. Eli’s Ang Dating Daan or The Old Path program on television. It was that day when her nephew who visited her in their house in Marikina that Sis. Felicitas was discovered watching the religious show.

“‘I didn’t know that Auntie listened to The Old Path?’ he said,” she recounted.

“Do you know him?” was the quick question Sis. Felicitas asked him. 

“I’m [a member] there, Auntie,” replied her nephew. Right then and there Sis Felicitas asked her nephew to take her to the nearest MCGI chapter. She recounted that her nephew sought from a Church member through a phone call for the address of the locale nearest their place. Incidentally, it was the same location where the couple would undergo their indoctrination sessions.

In Bro. Aurelio’s case, it was his brother-in-law that helped him find his brethren in faith.

“One time when there was a blackout, my brother-in-law bought an emergency light. He bought me a small radio too,” Bro. Aurelio began narrating the first time he learned that a very unconventional preacher like Bro. Eli exists.

“My in-law turned on the radio and he switched it there,” referring to Bro. Eli’s program on Radyo La Verdad 1350. It didn’t take him very long to realize and be convinced of the teachings that Bro. Eli speaks of in his program. “Why, I’ve waited long to hear that!” Bro. Aurelio exclaimed, eagerly telling his in-law afterwards to “research it.”

One and the Same

The couple arrived from Seattle, Washington to the Philippines on September of year 2012. Being away from loved ones in the Philippines for over a decade, Bro. Aurelio and Sis. Felicitas had many things to attend to even weeks after they landed on their home country.

The means and instances of hearing Bro. Eli for the first time may be different for the Peralta couple. Still, Bro. Aurelio and Sis. Felicitas were glad that it was the one and same man they both have enjoyed listening to. 

“When we got here in September last year… we always listened to Bro. Eli on UNTV,” said Sis. Felicitas. “It’s as if I’ve heard so many things that I only heard now.”

Before their baptism, the old couple live a decade with no religion in the U.S. after leaving the Pentecostal Church for good. “That’s why I’m very happy that I was able to come here for vacation,” Bro. Aurelio stressed. “My mind was enlightened. Everything changed somehow.”

The parents of six daughters, all of whom with their own families now, wished that their children could listen to Bro. Eli too. 

“Bro. Eli narrates very well,” said Sis. Felicitas, expressing afterwards her hope that the MCGI Leader will continue to preach to humanity. “It seems that there’s nobody who perseveres like him. Many people who don’t know what is really true, what is really good must hear him out.”

The Peralta couple was baptized on March 22, 2013 at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

(Words by Art Cruz)

(Photography by Kenji Hasegawa)


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