By Remedios M. Reyes
I was in third year high school, as far as I remember, when I heard Bro. Eli Soriano on the television program “Ang Dating Daan.” Whenever my elder brother watched the program, I would pass by our living room pretending that I was not interested. The fact was that I was curious about what it was and so I listened.
The first discussion I heard was about the creation of man, stating that man was the masterpiece of God. That the location of our body parts where God placed them was the best place where it was best intended. This includes the location of our eyes, nose, ears, eyebrows, the shape of our fingers and other body parts. Bro. Eli also said that fingers may be of different sizes but you will notice that when you eat using your fingers they were perfectly designed to serve the purpose. My impression then of Bro. Eli was that he was a logical person and a keen observer. He appreciated the logic of his surroundings even to the least of creatures.
From then on whenever my brother watched the program, I would secretly listen to the voice of the preacher and pretend that I was busy doing my projects and assignments. I listened secretly because I was studying in a Catholic school. But I did enjoy Bro. Eli’s teaching from the Bible.
After a year of listening, my brother got baptized on August 25, 2000. I was already in my fourth year high school when my faith in God caused me to regularly attend Catholic mass and other religious activities in school. I also joined the Children of Mary Immaculate or COMI and became a lector or reader during mass celebrations. I also frequently took the lead when praying the rosary. At that time I still didn’t know that what I was doing was against the teachings in the Bible.
At school before our classes would start, we would conduct our “Morning Praise” wherein we sing praises and share Bible messages and interpretations. I would always volunteer to share because I have lots of ideas and information which I learned from watching the “Ang Dating Daan” program. My teacher and classmates noticed that I have different interpretations because I used the Bible as my basis for my interpretations. Their usual ways of sharing were in forms of telling stories and personal experiences. So, whenever I talked they listened and said that I was controversial because my beliefs were different from theirs. At one instance, I told them about Jesus Christ breaking the rule on a Sabbath Day. I also didn’t use the name YAHWEH but instead I refer to God as YHWH or Father in heaven.
Days and months passed and many questions accumulated in my mind. I began to ask my classmates, friends and my teachers if there were many erroneous teachings in the Catholic Church. I asked my favorite teacher to watch the “Ang Dating Daan” program. She was my teacher in Business Distributive Arts Department and she taught basic marketing and accounting subjects. She was also the one who inspired me to pursue my accounting course in college. At times I would write her letters and we became teacher-student best friends. I also gave her Bible verses and some of the teachings of Bro. Eli.
I didn’t know how to express my thoughts and share my ideas so I would always look for people who cared to listen and answer my inquiries. One day, my friends and I decided to join the BIGKIS club which was a group managing our school magazine. My friends were better writers than I and they passed three to five essays while I passed only one article. But when the magazine was published, I was happy to learn that my article was chosen among the others. In my article, I wrote about what man had destroyed that cannot be repaired and only God can repair these. However, that part had been edited by our chairperson and was changed to “that what we need is just BALANCE, BALANCE AND BALANCE. “
I had different beliefs and I understood that I had been edited that way because – I was proud to say – I learned those ideas from Bro. Eli Soriano. I always had debates with our teachers because I would often ask them why they do this and that. I would ask, “How come?” “What is the meaning of this and that?” and questions of that kind.
I also heard from Bro. Eli Soriano that we need to be true and honest, to be clean in our lives and avoid lies and fraud. There is one event during our third quarter examination when many of our classmates cheated. There was a “leakage” of notes and answer sheets. I was so brave to stand as witness against the cheating that took place. I felt fulfilled when I had told the truth because I know that I have done my duty.
But every exercise of freedom comes with responsibilities. I was persecuted for telling about their anomalies and wrong doings. I was accused of being a grade-conscious student and as a joke, I was threatened to be salvaged or killed. Many became angry at me and there was even one girl who asked me not to pinpoint or tell her name because she will lose her place as honorable mention in class.
But there were also those who encouraged me and accepted their punishment promising not to cheat again. There were times I felt alone because my close friends had withdrawn their support for me. Despite all these, I didn’t lose hope and my principles pushed me to fight for my advocacy. I wanted them to learn their lesson. I was so idealistic that I didn’t want them to grow up the same as the corrupt politicians, preventing them to do things that may be similar to the corruption and fraud we hear of in the government.
When it had come to pass and the graduation day was at hand, my best friend-teacher told me not to join the “Ang Dating Daan” group. After a lengthy discussion, she said, “Follow your will if you found the truth in that group.” Came vacation and I had the time to watch the program. I was so convinced then and was planning to join the group. I refused to study in St. Scholastica’s College in Manila because it was a Catholic school and because I saw a lot of graven images of saints in every corner of the campus. At that time, I already knew that idolatry was strictly prohibited in the Bible being an act of blasphemy and abominable in the eyes of God.
Eventually I told my brother that I wanted to join the Church of God. I also informed my mother about my plan but it was not easy because she was so devoted to the Catholic Church. She advised me not to join the group and even threatened to kick me out of our hose and not to send me to college. I was so helpless because I was still dependent on my mother.
It was hard to decide and I thought hard of what to do. I knew I needed to escape my mother’s eyes but still I decided to attend a worship service with my brother in the Church of God. During the prayer lead by Bro. Daniel Razon, the Vice-Presiding Minister, I felt the presence of God. I cried and prayed hard for Him to enlighten my mind.
From then on, I kept on watching the program and attending church gatherings. Finally, I made a decision that I would join the “Ang Dating Daan” group. I was ready and willing to give up everything: my family, my studies, and my future, just to serve God.
On May 3, 2002, I was baptized by Sis. Baby Reyes at the ADD Convention Center, Apalit, Pampanga. I was so happy and felt fulfilled that moment because I was ready to die and face eternity if it was God’s will. Eventually my Mom accepted my decision. I did not need to leave our home and I even pursued my studies in college.
At the start, it was not that easy to face persecution. I always cried because people didn’t understand me. I chose the way of God and I knew the fact that there would be loads of trials and persecution that will be manifested. It is better to experience sacrifices in this world, if the price is God’s kingdom.
I am willing to accept those consequences of the Christian way of living. I hope someday that my Mom, together with my loved ones, will glorify and serve our God Almighty in the authentic Church of God with the true and most sensible preacher of our time, Bro. Eli Soriano who was sent in this last dispensation. I pray to God for His guidance and mercy. To God be the glory.
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