From the very first time that I was able to listen to Bro. Eli, I right away believed in him. I readily felt that he was speaking with authority. He knew very well what he was saying.
By Rodel Mangiliman
It was in the year 1981 that my father developed great interest in reading the Bible. During Saturdays and Sundays, there was regular Bible-sharing session being held in our house. My father would invite people coming from different faiths, and there in our house, they would engage themselves in some sort of discussions.
My father spoke the loudest. I was impressed with the Biblical wisdom that my father displayed then. All the while, I thought that he acquired all those knowledge from his constant reading of the Bible. I realized that he simply learned all those things from the rebuttal of Bro. Eli Soriano to the other members of the panel in the program “Dis is Manolo and his Genius Family.”
My father admired so much the way Bro. Eli answered the questions of the people. He listened to the program regularly and the next day, he would enthusiastically recount to us what happened that night in Mr. Favis’ program. My father would gladly share what he had learned from Bro. Eli.
Gradually, we, too, had lost interest in Catholicism. There were nights when I would be joining my father as he listened to the “Genius Family.” From the very first time that I was able to listen to Bro. Eli, I right away believed in him. I readily felt that he was speaking with authority. He knew very well what he was saying.
I would have a wonderful time listening to him. Since then, I’ve felt his sincerity. Whenever his turn to speak would come, he would use it wisely and fully. He was the most awaited speaker. I would say that, since that time on, my father and I were instantly great admirers of Bro. Eli. Despite that, it did not enter in our mind to join that group that he was leading, primarily because we didn’t have any idea how to go about it. Besides, we thought that their group didn’t have any member in Pampanga. We also felt that Bro. Eli was quite far.
We had by then grown cold on the Catholic faith, and we were really looking for a religious group that we could join in so we examined the faiths of people who were going to our place and using the Bible. In 1986, we joined the Baptist church. That time, we were thinking that any church would do except the Catholic Church. But despite the fact that we were already members of the Baptist group, we continued listening to Bro. Eli in the “Genius Family” program because he had captured our hearts.
Time came when my father had some disagreements with our Baptist pastor because he had heard Bro. Eli exposed the wrong doctrines of the Baptists. He quit this group after some disputes with our pastor. I, too, was not satisfied with their teachings. In fact, I learned more from listening to Bro. Eli’s program.
One time, I visited my parents. My father and I talked about Bro. Eli. That time both of us were already very eager to join his group, so we decided to send him a letter. He dictated to me what I had to say, and I mailed the letter. Less than two weeks after, Bro. Eli sent to our house three people (Bro. Candong, Bro. Efren, and Bro. Lito). They held a Bible Study in our house. Unfortunately, I was not able to listen because I was living apart from my parents. I was then a working student in Republic Central Colleges in Angeles City.
The next time that they come to our house, I decided to listen. And for reasons which I could not explain, I just found myself crying when they sang Hymn 74. I was moved by its lyrics but I did not show them that I was crying. I was ashamed to be seen crying. Besides, they wouldn’t understand how I felt. After that gathering, I borrowed their booklet of hymns. I copied hymn 74, and I tried to recall its melody. That was the first congregational song that I learned, and up to now, it is my favorite song.
I also copied the notes about the previous topics which I missed, but which my brother jotted down. I read all the verses that were cited in the bible. The time came when my family would undertake baptism in the Church of God on July 5, 1989 but I left behind due to my schedules. When I saw the rapid changes in the life of my family after baptism, the more I dreamed to be a part of the Church of God.
With God’s mercy I was indoctrinated later on. My indoctrination was over in just a day and a night. We started in the morning of July 17, 1989 and ended at 2:30 AM the next day.
I was baptized on July 18, 1989 by Bro. Lito Quizon in the river of San Marcos, Calumpit, Bulacan. My vices were gone since I became a member. I learned the value of a God-given life. And in continuing with the gatherings, Bro. Candong and Bro. Efren inspired me and served as my guides when I was just a newcomer in the Church. The more so I desired to study the scriptures.
I didn’t plan to be a church worker. I just wanted to learn the teachings of God. After a few months, Bro. Candong brought me to a workers’ screening in Bliss 1, Magalang, Pampanga. I wasn’t aware it was a screening because I thought he would just teach me the topic I missed in the Bible Public Meeting.
I became a worker afterwards and with the mercy of God, I persisted. I started as a half-timer first in San Nicolas, Magalang, Pampanga in October 1989. My first assignment was the locale of Minalin, Pampanga in May 1990. I was no exception to the trials being experienced by workers who were just starting with their duty. My time was divided into three: as a church worker, as a worker in the farm, and as a student.
I sought for Bro. Eli’s permission twice if I could quit the Workers’ Ministry because I was thinking of my family. I wanted to finish my studies because among my brothers and sisters, I was the only one who was given the chance to enter college. The first time that I asked for Bro. Eli’s permission, he told me, “I myself, gave up my schooling despite the scholarship that was being offered to me. They were even planning to send me abroad with a P12, 000 allowance per month. But I did not mind it. Bro. Josel likewise had thought of quitting the ministry. But what did I tell him? I asked him, If you go to school, are you sure you would be able to do what you wanted to do for your parents? Do you realize that God can do more on the things you can’t do?”
I was silent when I heard what Bro. Eli said, but his words renewed my conviction to continue performing my duty as a worker. The second time I came to him to ask his permission, he told me, “If Paul cowered because of afflictions he encountered, he would have backed out.” I contemplated on his words, and I finally understood what he meant. With the help of God, and with the pieces of advice given to me by Bro. Eli, I was able to continue with my service to God.
After some years, I was appointed as a Sector Leader in Pampanga Division and in May 1995 I was given the sensitive duty of officer-in-Charge (OIC). At first, I couldn’t believe that I was assigned as an OIC because I felt I wasn’t qualified for the position. With God’s help, I tried diligently to do the responsibility given to me. Then in February 1997 I became a baptizer in our organization. Although I felt I was not worthy in this task, I prayed that I can perform well. Year 2001 we became Ministers-in-Charge and the more I felt fear for the heavier role entrusted to me.
I am thanking God for His unspeakable goodness and love, and for giving us truthful leaders: Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel, I have learned to value and to perform well the duties given to me. I am now one of the luckiest men living under the mercy and love of God. Thanks be to God.
First published in Believer News Magazine, Feb. 2005