The Members Church of God International (MCGI) celebrated a New Year in the Lord, thanking the Almighty Father for His lovingkindness and merciful safekeeping of His people throughout the entire Christian year. As the month of Nisan (the first month in the Hebrew calendar) year 5781 begins, the Church is looking back at the year 5780 to commemorate how God blessed and guided His people.
(March 25 to June 22, 2020)
The start of the New Year was met with the news about a fast-spreading disease caused by a new and deadly coronavirus, called Covid-19, which eventually became a pandemic. As many areas in the Philippines and around the world were placed under lockdown, MCGI initiated efforts to reach people, especially those in the indigent communities for they were the worst affected by this unforeseen situation, as their movement had been restricted.
Under the leadership of Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, the congregation, motivated by Christian love, donated food supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to different cities and municipalities all over the Philippines and in several other parts of the world. Bro. Eli Soriano himself donated one million pesos to the City of Manila, which was one of the first to be severely hit by this disease in the country.
Upon Bro. Eli’s instruction, the MCGI Digital Clinic was made a 24/7 Digital Clinic, providing a free and accessible line of communication between people with symptoms of Covid-19 and other ailments, and the medical practitioners. By this efficient telehealth service, MCGI played a vital role in early contact-tracing and quarantine of those affected by COVID-19. This service is open to everyone, whether a member of the Church or not. (Read more: mcgi.org/covid-19)
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel to use online technology in conducting church gatherings, such as Prayer Meetings, Worship Services, and weekly Thanksgivings. Even though this manner of congregating is already being used by brethren in areas where there are no coordinating centers, the Church administration decided to adopt it to the entire congregation so as not to compromise the health and safety of the members.
“The gift I ask from you brethren is — whatever good thing you wish to do for me, do it for your neighbors instead.” — Bro. Eli Soriano, April 3, 2020
In April 2020, the whole congregation also offered its first quarter Special International Thanksgiving via video conferencing platforms. Before the lockdowns, the majority of the brethren used to flock to the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Philippines, and in other huge venues in the Philippines, in Brazil, and in other parts of the world for the three-day quarterly celebration.
Bro. Eli, who celebrated his Sabbath Anniversary and 73rd birthday, spoke to the brethren asking a simple gift. And that was, for them to extend help to those in need, especially to those whose livelihood had been affected by the pandemic.
As Covid-19 continued to wreak havoc to humanity, MCGI started Serbisyong Kapatiran, a nightly program during weekdays exclusively meant for all the Church members. This gave Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel an opportunity to check on the condition of the brethren all over the world. Aside from this, the online program also features segments, such as the granting of simple wishes of indigent members, job matching, Christian short films, and the brethren’s story of faith.
In mid-May, the MCGI Music Channel on Youtube was officially launched. And on May 25, 2020, Bro. Eli started the first Global Prayer for Humanity, which encouraged people from all walks of life, regardless of their religious affiliations, to join in seeking for the protection and mercy of the Lord amid the health crisis and other natural disasters that mankind is experiencing. The Global Prayer for Humanity goes live, from Monday to Friday, at 9:30 p.m. Manila time.
Toward the end of the first quarter of the Hebrew calendar, another first in the MCGI history happened. The Church, through its flagship program, Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), conducted an online Live Mass Indoctrination. Before the pandemic, this Church event used to be held in different MCGI coordinating centers here and abroad, and those who want to learn the doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ need to attend it personally. This month-long online sessions provided a greater opportunity for more individuals to study the authentic Christian doctrines, which are being observed by all the brethren in the Church of God International.
(June 23 to September 18, 2020)
The more accessible and streamlined approach for Mass Indoctrination contributed to a record-breaking number of newly baptized brethren. On June 27, more than 6,000 souls were baptized and became members of the Church of God International! This feat was one of the things the congregation celebrated during the Second Quarter International Thanksgiving to God, still held online on July 3.
In July, MCGI also launched its 24/7 multilingual community prayer broadcast with hourly schedules. Starting with four language prayer translations namely, English, Tagalog, Portuguese and Spanish, the 24/7 multilingual community prayer broadcast has expanded to 11 languages to date, now including Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German, French, Nepali and Bahasa Melayu. (Read more: mcgi.org/24-7-hourly-cp/)
Following the success of MCGI Teatro Kristyano’s first online film festival on July 26, Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon started the production of Christian Drama, with the help and participation of the Church’s artistically inclined young members. Kristyano Drama, as it is now called, is being aired on the Philippines’ public service channel UNTV 37 and affiliated Youtube channels. (See: mcgi.org/teatro-kristiano-christian-drama)
As the daily Worldwide Bible Exposition and Bible Studies continued, more and more people were able to participate through their computers and mobile devices while they were at the comfort of their own homes. The strict quarantine measures had provided many souls with the opportunity to seek and hear the word of God!
An average of 30,000 devices tuned in daily to the program’s livestreaming on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter! Tens of thousands more monitored via video-conferencing applications and live satellite feeds. On August 3, Ang Dating Daan began its second batch of online Live Mass Indoctrination Sessions, which also continued to garner thousands of viewers.
In mid-August, MCGI 24/7 Chorale celebrated its 12th year of non-stop singing of praises to God through the very first digital convention. During this event, which was made available on select social media platforms, a video, which provide a flashback of the history of this particular Church endeavor that started on August 9, 2008, was shown. To date, the participants in this 24/7 singing have grown to more than 12,000, coming from different parts of the globe.
On August 23, 2020, Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Uly Villamin launched The Unheard Truth podcast, which has already drawn more than four million downloads to date. In its weekly live airing, Bro. Eli tackled biblical facts that no pastor or religious leader has ever preached. The podcast was streamed on major podcast platforms, including Spreaker, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify.
(September 18 to December 15, 2020)
On October 5, 2020, the MCGI inaugurated the MCGI-UNTV Health Facility. This state-of-the-art medical establishment in Malolos City, Bulacan aimed to service patients under investigation (PUIs) and those with mild Covid-19 symptoms for free.
The facility has passed both the rigid standards set by the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as an isolation facility for Covid-19 patients. The WHO representative who inspected the building even commended the facility for its use of modern technologies, such as the negative room pressure with air filtering system to ensure clean air in the building and avoid cross-contamination among patients and staff members. It started accepting patients on October 6, 2020.
In the same month, the Church officially launched the MCGI Free Store in order to serve exclusively the brethren who are in need of aid and assistance. It was also a plan of Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel to extend the help being offered by the MCGI Free Store even to the non-members of the Church, here and abroad.
This quarter also marked the 40th anniversary of the Ang Dating Daan program, which has expanded from being a local radio and television program to an international multi-platform religious program translated into different languages.
(December 15, 2020 to March 12, 2021)
Toward the end of December, Bro. Eli’s first and final live online biblical debate for the year took place. The veteran televangelist debated and won against Brazil-based Seventh Day Adventist Pastor João Pedro Torales on a theme pertaining to biblical sabbaths.
Bro. Daniel’s 37th Sabbath Anniversary on November 28 was commemorated with the brethren sharing short testimonials of their unforgettable and fond memories with “Kuya” (Big Brother) Daniel, and the lessons they learned from him in those encounters.
Despite several delays, “A Song of Faith: Inspired by Music in the Time of Pandemic” was successfully held as an online event of the MCGI Music Ministry. Several new songs were featured including an original composition by Bro. Sonny Catan.
Meanwhile, Audibible, the podcast where Bro. Eli reads one chapter of a particular book of the Bible per episode, launched on December 12.
On January 20, 2021, Bro. Eli revealed and discussed the 67th book of the Bible – an epistle mentioned in the book of Acts, which was agreed upon and written by the apostles to the brethren in various churches. This wisdom had been taught to the congregation prior to Bro. Eli’s public discussion about it as an answer to one of the guests during a Live Bible Exposition in Europe, Israel, Africa, the Middle East, and North America. Coincidentally, this was also the day Joe Biden was sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States.
On February 11, 2020, our beloved Bro. Eli Soriano was made to rest by the merciful God. The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, notable politicians and personalities, as well as celebrities, offered their sympathies and condolences to the family of Bro. Eli and to the whole congregation. This gesture was a testament to the international televangelist’s impact on the lives of many people in the Philippines and abroad. He passed away at the age of 73.
It was a God-given privilege for the congregation to have a teacher, preacher, and evangelist as compassionate, dedicated, and honest as Bro. Eli Soriano, whose life he had dedicated to leading souls back to God. The brethren’s grief over Bro. Eli’s passing was readily overtaken by the feeling of hope which was given to them by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the comforting of the Holy Spirit. Taking over the Church leadership is Bro. Daniel Razon, Bro. Eli’s primary assistant in overseeing the congregation. As he assumed Church leadership and administration, Bro. Daniel emphasized to the brethren the need for all of them to remain steadfast in the faith; and, united and zealous in the performance of each and everyone’s duty, in looking after one another, and in doing good works to all, especially to the brethren in faith, as taught by Bro. Eli. (Read more: mcgi.org/bro-eli-soriano-rests-56-years-of-serving)
Even after Bro Eli’s death in the flesh, MCGI continues to air his recorded preaching (Bible Expositions and Bible Studies) on multiple platforms as if he was still doing them live. In fact, only a few weeks after his passing, the Church started another series of Mass Indoctrination using his recorded videos. This event was warmly received by people, even posting record-high viewership since the congregation started streaming its indoctrination sessions.
Toward the end of the year 5780, MCGI became busy preparing for the global launch of the MCGI Free Store, which is now open even to non-members of the Church. Beneficiaries of the MCGI Free Store are given the privilege of getting what they need, for free.
Thanks be to God!