By Sis Nedie Español
I am a former member of the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo.
Last October 15, 1999, I became a memberof the Church of God, International and after six months, my eldest daughter followed. My biological sister followed too, a few months after that. After a year, my husband, the late Bro. Romy Español who was an active and staunch minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo joined us in the Church.
Even before, I felt that the teachings and doctrines of my former religion were unbiblical. After the birth of our daughter, Monette, Bro. Romy told me to scrap off all time and effort in attending worship gatherings of the INC. For him, he said it would be better if we leave him alone in ‘tolerating’ his Church’s iniquities because we needed its ‘service’ to survive.
We actually lived together for twenty years. He was a well-known minister of the Iglesia and yet from his very mouth, I have learned that Jesus Christ was not man but God, and that the very Church adhering to that misleading belief was not of God. And the most beguiling but distinct of all was that Felix Manalo was never a Divine messenger.
I can still remember the time when we used to watch Bro. Eli Soriano’s program on Channel 13, around two-thirty ‘til three-thirty in the afternoon. I was well-informed because Bro. Romy himself was watching the program. One evening, he was visited by some suspended INC ministers. They were hanging out while singing their popular videoke songs when suddenly the machine malfunctioned. Bro. Romy switched the cannel to T.V. mode then to RJTV29 (The Ang Dating Daan (ADD) program was moved then to Channel 29).
I was listening to their conversation while they watched the program. Later on, I heard Bro. Romy talking about the Church of God being the TRUE Church and Bro. Eli being the authentic Divine messenger. I was so shocked hearing those statements from him and I was certainly puzzled the whole night. I then decided to locate for any Ang Dating Daan locale to immediately subject myself to indoctrination.
Gradually, my mind was cleared of all doubts and worries: The Church of God is the TRUE Church. No man can question or contest its existence and authenticity. I profess my fidelity to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and guarantee my faith to the Church. Eventually, I underwent the Holy Baptism; the most precious moment in my life. My tears just flowed unceasingly. And I thought Romy would definitely get angry with me because he was still an INC minister, then my husband, but spiritual persecutor.
I just simply said to myself: “I love that man and I will love him more especially at this point in my life that I have known the genuine teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ…I will do that even though he had pointed a gun at me and risked my life after performing my divine obligations.”
Although I’m an active member of the Church of God, I would prepare everything for my husband before I leave the house. But there were times when he tried to stop me from attending the worship services. All I could do was cry and pray to God. Later on, he would comfort me saying: “Go ahead. Bring your son with you.”
I would leave the house in a hurry while crying and unburdening all my cares to God. I knew he was having an affair with a very young girl and that she was carrying his child. The only thing left in my mind was the truth that God is just. He would remember us when he was sick or sorrowful. I knew that he recognized my deep faith in the Church and the enormous respect I render to Brother Eli. And maybe he had been witness to my courage and strong belief in the Church.
Sometimes he would ask me if I was not getting tired of attending indoctrination sessions, Bible studies, and other activities. My mother even commented once while I was watching Bro Eli’s program: “Nedie, since you were not excommunicated [from the INC], why don’t you join us again?” My father was against my decision of leaving them. I just simply asked him as a response to his unutterable vexation, “Was that a lesson you have learned from your messenger?”
I knew them, my family, their religious service, and other matters regarding them. But did they change for good? Absolutely not! Everything was the same as if they have learned nothing. I talked seriously with my mother, telling her that this is the only happiness I would rather have in life and begged her to respect my decision. I also told my relatives that they can say all the evil things against me but never say anything against the Church and Bro Eli.
I and Monette were attending a Thanksgiving when Bro. Josel Mallari advised us that we had a visitor. To my surprise, it was Romy! He was observing the goings-on inside the convention center. And around one-thirty in the afternoon, my youngest son, Ramon informed me that his father was leaving. But I would discover later on that he never left the convention center. He just hid himself in the midst of the people seated in the bleacher and listened secretly to Brother Eli’s topic.
He used to do that several times until one time he said: “How will I be able to speak with Bro. Eli? I need to tell him certain things. I might be of help in exposing the INC’s unbiblical practices or to push the debate between them and the Church of God.”
Despite the hardships, trials and afflictions, I gave my utmost gratitude to God because last August 3, 2002, my husband was baptized. Before he passed away, he was able to partake, in his own little way, in the propagation of the Gospel especially in exposing the INC’s atrocities.
Bro. Romy once said: “The Holy Scriptures is right. There is a true religion and that is the Church of God written in the Bible.”