Because I was a drunkard, I asked him if there was anything wrong with drinking. I saw that he was drawing all his answers from the verses of the Bible.
By Sonny Catan
One time, I came home drunk. During those times, I would listen to religious programs, so I turned on our television set to Channel 13. All of a sudden, my attention was caught by a preacher. I listened to him. I at once admired the courage that he displayed so I decided to continue listening. And without me noticing it, his 30-minute program was over. Too bad, I didn’t learn who he was.
It was in 1989 that I got the chance to listen to the program of Mr. Manolo Favis in DZBB entitled, “Dis is Manolo and his Genius Family.” While listening, I was able to recognize a familiar voice – the voice of the preacher that I heard in Channel 13. I learned that he was Bro. Eliseo Soriano.
I became a regular listener of that program. He was, indeed, remarkable. In fact, the callers were always looking for him. Among the pastors there, he always gave the clearest answers to queries. I was very much impressed. I shared this with my colleagues in the Born Again group, and I also encouraged them to listen but they gave me no positive reply. They said that the group led by Bro. Eli is a cult. But despite that, secretly, I kept listening to Bro. Eli. I preferred listening to him because he is really one of a kind.
In 1990, I decided to send Bro. Eli a letter in my desire to find a church locale that was near our place. After a few days, I started looking for a coordinating center of that group. I went to Gaya-gaya, Bulacan but what I found was the coordinating center of Haligi’t Suhay – another church group. Fortunately, I did not find anybody there so I just decided to go home. When I went home, I listened to his program “Ang Dating Daan” over DZME and I was so happy when I heard my letter to Bro. Eli being read over the air.
I later found out that one of their church locales was close to our house. This was the locale of Tala. The worker that Bro. Eli sent to me was Bro. Rolan Ocampo.
I saw Bro. Eli for the first time at the locale of Tala. I even got the chance to ask him a question in a Bible Study there. Because I was a drunkard, I asked him if there was anything wrong with drinking. I was satisfied with the answer he gave me, and the more I became impressed with him when I saw that he was drawing all his answers from the verses of the Bible.
From that time on, I also began attending gatherings even though I was not a member yet. My regular attendance to their gathering made me think that I was already a bona fide member so I attempted to give also my contribution in the box. However, the worker assigned in our place told me that they could not accept my contribution because I was not yet a member of the congregation. He told me that I should first be indoctrinated, and if I accepted the teachings, then I would be baptized.
Even before I became a member of the Church of God, I had made a promise to God that I would be serving Him. This happened when my uncle died in an accident. I prayed for God to save his life, and this prayer was coupled with a promise that, in return, I would be serving Him. The Lord granted my prayer. Later on, I decided to undergo indoctrination as the first step towards the fulfillment of my promise to God.
My decision to be indoctrinated was triggered by my belief that the Church of God is an organization that is of God. From Bro. Eli, I had also understood the importance of making oneself a member of the Church. I was indoctrinated by Bro. Rolan, and I was baptized by Bro. Ato Tobias on January 21, 1991 at the river of San Marcos, Calumpit, Bulacan. Barely five days after my baptism, I became the president of the youth sector in the Church. At the back of my mind, I was quite apprehensive because I was very new in the congregation, but through the help of God, I actively got involved in the Church activities.
When I joined this organization, my mother and my relatives were angry with me. They became angrier each time they would learn that I was trying to convert my other relatives. They said that I had gone out of my mind. But I had no problem dealing with my father, elder brother and Sister Cecille, our youngest. These things did not influence my faith. I held firmly to the teachings of God that I understood from Bro. Eli. Through God’s mercy, Bro. Dennis, my cousin, and my friend, Bro. Bong Bodeña, likewise became members of this group.
I developed great admiration for the workers that were being taught by Bro. Eli. They discussed the topics very clearly. I became interested in entering the Workers Ministry because I wanted to be of some help. When I was a trainee, I was working in Paranaque and after my work, I would rush to review topics that we had studied.
Like most of us, I experienced some problems in my pursuit to serve God. Six months after I became a member of this group, my mother drove me out of our house. Despite this thing, I was never disheartened. I sought refuge in the house of Sister Nydia. Later on with God’s help, I was given my first assignment as a half-timer at the locale of Gumaok, San Jose, Bulacan in 1991. My solo assignment was in August 1992 at the locale of Marilao, Bulacan.
After several years, a very sensitive duty was entrusted to me. I became a baptizer in November 4, 1995. There was a typhoon signal number 4 the first time I officiated baptism. I was with Bro. Efren Baquing that time. However, the storm didn’t hinder us from performing our duties.
I became an Officer-in-Charge for Cavite and Rizal in 1995. Initially, I was worried that I might not be able to fulfill my responsibilities as an OIC. I left everything to God because I believe that this assignment came from Him. This, I did again when I became a Minister-in-Charge in 2001. I never really dreamed that I would become an MIC. Whatever is the will of God for me, I will gladly follow. I value my duties more important than my own life. And I learned this principle from Bro. Eli.
Indeed, I am very thankful to God because despite many problems that have come my way, I am still able to fulfill my duties. I was very grateful to become a part of a congregation that is of God, and have conscientious leaders, like Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel, who have been untiringly doing everything for the sake of our salvation. I believe that God sent them to us. Thanks be to God.
First published in Believer Newsmagazine, Feb. 2005