Then I saw people gushing over to take photos of Bro. Eli. “Is he a superstar?”
By Nina Del Rosario
I was raised a Roman Catholic. I had never explored other religions before – made no time, spared no effort, simply was uninterested. Except that one time my brother invited me to attend a bible exposition by Bro. Eli Soriano.
I had no idea who Bro. Eli was. I was uninterested to join and since my mom was Bro. Eli’s number one fan, she asked me to accompany her. The segment, ‘Ask Brother Eli, the bible answers’ didn’t have any impact on me but I was impressed.
Then I saw people gushing over to take photos of Bro. Eli. “Is he a superstar?” I wondered. Nonstop bible expositions were held which drew my attention. Then I began asking questions to Bro. Eli personally. Listening to him, I felt like a small child excited to learn to count and learn abc’s from her father. My mom and brother are members of the Church of God International. My brother invited me several times to attend the gathering which I had to decline because I was terribly busy at work; weekends were supposed to be holidays but I still had commitments to fulfill.
In 2008, (from Singapore) I was re-assigned to Australia. I saw how laid back life there is in Australia; there were lots of places to visit, yet shopping centers close before sunset, and for newcomers it could really be lonely.
A year after, I invited my mom to visit and meet my fiancé sometime in June. My fiancé and I got her back and forth to the Locale Chapter in Sydney. She attended weekly thanksgiving where I had chances to listen to the topics. I soon found myself practicing some of the doctrines unaware.
During my mom’s visit, she fell terribly ill. She was suffering stage 4 cancer which had spread throughout her body. It was secondary lung cancer which metastasized to her brain, later to her bones and to her kidney as well.
Four weeks before I brought my mom back to the Philippines, I was told that my company would be changing its business model and all of us had to go. Then I was offered a position in Dubai which I refused because: it was far, my fiancé lives in Australia, and I didn’t want to relocate. I partly decided to collect my severance payment and leave since it was enough for a lifetime saving.
We all know cancer is a fatal disease but many of us have no idea how to cope with it.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, it was the moment I saw how God works His own ways. It was only God’s hand that showed the way that led us to a lot of good-hearted people. God assured that we are never alone; He showed us mercy right in our faces.
Without asking our financial capacity, the doctors explained to us that my mom had to undergo brain surgery. We knew that the cost of brain operation plus the services of two well-known brain surgeons in Asia would cost millions. The doctors never mentioned financial capability in any of the discussion.
Straightaway, I asked my company that I will have to collect my severance payment to pay the medical bills. Thereafter, I found out that the release of my severance payment would take some weeks so I had to look for options to raise funds instantly.
I called my best friend in Singapore and told her what happened. “Nina, please tell me if there’s anything I can do, money or support, if you want me to accompany you, I will”, she said. It deeply touched my heart. I made no bones and told her I needed money to set out my mom’s brain surgery. Without thinking twice, my bestfriend handed over her family savings for my mom. She withdrew her time deposit meant for her son from the bank. We were saved once again.
I remember when I informed my mom that my company was closing. We both wondered why this was all too sudden. Why shut the business while we are profiting well? But I was all alone analyzing things. My mom had lost her recent memories including that of her trip to Australia after the surgery.
Why was I pulled out of the company in which I had served for more than a decade? Was it to accomplish something bigger and better – to take care of my mom and to use my severance payment for her hospitalization?
After two months of stay in the hospital we brought her back to the house. God gave us the best caring home nurses, but still we faced another challenge: cancer medicines are not easily accessible. It was then that God used a lot of people to help us secure medicines. Each time we were disheartened, out of nowhere somebody informs us exactly where to find medicines.
In November of 2008, my mom celebrated her first birthday in spirit; it was with God’s mercy she had reached a year of service to the Lord. Mom had become part of the Members, Church of God International (MCGI) led by Bro. Eliseo Soriano as Presiding Minister.
She became bedridden after the surgery that she had to be taken care of 24 hours a day 7 days a week. She didn’t want to open her eyes, beginning the latter part of October, for some reason. But on her birthday, her face glowed once again, her eyes opened brightly, and her smile – the smile that I will never forget – was the same old smile I used to see before she fell ill. She even held her left hand up in the air like a baton master when we sang her the birthday song. My heart was filled with mixed emotions. My family and I were seeing another miracle from God – the God of my mother’s faith.
After the celebration, she was back to bed.
Three months later, my mom passed away – in my own hands, in her family’s care, in the hands of the people who loved her deeply. As I typed these words and recollected the events, I realized how strong God has made me after all that has happened to my mom.
Who could bear a single moment to see your dying love one die, catching her last breath and most of all you tried to revive her but nothing can be done anymore?
I had seen every single suffering my Mom had and I am very thankful to God that He made her rest. He took away all her recent memories and that was one of God’s ways of taking care of her, and of us.
Had she not lost her memories, it would have been a hundred times harder to bear emotionally. God knows our limits and He will never put us to a test which we won’t be able to endure – that’s what I believe.
I know that ONLY God knows what lies ahead. I would NEVER question His powers. I would BE THANKFUL for all the problems, and try to see what He’s teaching me in times of trouble. After her death, I went back to Singapore only to do two things (1) Process my fiancée’s visa back to Australia and (2) Get a temporary job in Singapore while waiting.
I started processing my visa around the third week of January 2009. As I was collecting my documents on my way back home (before I went back to Singapore), I thought I had the complete requirements (at least according to the list). Something happened along the way for some reason: My friend’s statutory declaration was delayed for two weeks, the declaration of my future brother-in-law was wrong; the embassy was asking me to provide police clearances from the three countries where I used to live for more than twelve months of the past decade. I tried to cool down myself – just another bad day Nina, relax.
So priority Number One became priority Number Two and vice versa. Priority Number One now is to find a job. I had been to countless interviews both for permanent posting and for temporary ones but nothing had happened. All were unsuccessful.
I wondered why no one wanted to hire me when I have good education, unrivalled experience, etcetera. So I said to myself, okay then, go back and push my visa processing. I spent much time expediting my documents, hassled a lot of people, and since I was dealing mostly with government offices, nothing could have been faster than two to three weeks of process time. No choice. I had to wait again.
While I was having a bad day, I shared breakfast with my brother. All of a sudden he invited me to listen to Bro. Eli’s bible expositions – I was very quick to say yes not realizing the gravity of the invitation. After I said yes, I thought, what have I done? Is it the doctrines already?
I took two doctrines each time, so I finished quickly, except for some questions such as: What’s going to happen to me since I am engaged to a non-church member? Am I supposed to break up with him? I would attend thanksgivings regularly and listen to both Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel. To my pleasant surprise, the topic, which Bro. Daniel was teaching, was exactly the same question I had in mind.
My question was answered by God through Bro. Daniel. There were other questions I had in mind which had been answered in most of our congregational services. Since I finished quickly, I had to wait for other candidates for baptism to finish as well as there was a problem with the passport of the Minister-In-Charge who will baptize us – so again, I had to wait because of another delay. By now I had learned that delays are blessings in disguise and ways to teach people to remain patient and calm.
From these experiences, I have learned a big lesson: No matter how well you think you have planned for your life, God will always make sure that He will give you the best. I had my own priorities but were obviously not along God’s dispensation. He had taken away everything to simplify my life.
Looking back five years ago, I had a very high profile and busy job, earned a lot of money, and had no time for God. Then in His own way, He transfered me to Australia (for me to start living a simpler life and learn to become unassuming). My mom passed away and I went back to Singapore where I had received my indoctrination. So, are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Hadn’t my mom passed away would I have received God’s doctrines whole-heartedly or would I still be in the same old profane living? Brothers and sisters who are reading this, there are no coincidences or mere simple events in life. Everything happens for a reason and I strongly believe that all things work according to God’s plan.
I am very happy that I have been given the opportunity to be in the true Church of God, through God’s help and mercy, through our leaders Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel. On the 5th of April 2009, another soul has been reborn. I am happy to be with my biological family in this Church.
I can now say, I consider my faith my greatest achievement in my whole life. To God be the Glory!