Compared to my former religion, I didn’t hear teachings like I heard from him. I couldn’t feel any joy. It was more of a standing-and-sitting gathering and some segments of kissing a saliva-coated statue.
By Cesar Martir
I never expected that I would be affiliated with the Members Church of God International (MCGI). This group is more known by their popular Ang Dating Daan TV program hosted by Bro. Eliseo Soriano. I was just a security guard in Manila before. When I was assigned in Sucat, Parañaque I stayed in my brothers rented house. One time, when I was sleeping, a dream came to me. It was like I was in a big dark house. I was walking inside it, trying to know who the owner of the house was. It was as big as a mansion. There was no one inside but me: alone in this vast darkness. Time passed, and I saw strands of light coming from a slightly-opened window. At last, a window! By that window I managed to get out that dark house. It was hard getting out but it was a success.
Once outside the house, after passing through that narrow window, I saw Caucasian people in all-white attire. Everyone was holding white balloon. They were all so white that it made me think that they were angels. All of them are walling around my horizon. The land was covered with clouds, I couldn’t see soil. Even though it was like that, I still continued to walk ahead. Then I woke up. I didn’t know what that dream meant. I was confused about it, so I didn’t mind thinking about it.
Opportunity came; I got a small lot area in the Fourth Estate. I built a house there and settled. I am I used to be a drunkard and was zealous into being one. I easily managed to get company because of this. I had been to many places in our area because of this habit. What I didn’t know was that there was a member of MCGI residing in our area. There came a time that my friends and I hanged out in front of their house for booze.
We had a small conversation. He opened a topic about The Old Path (Ang Dating Daan). Then, he invited us in a gathering in Sucat. That is the place where I first heard Bro. Eliseo Soriano, in a live Bible exposition in 1996.
It was very memorable; my friend was a man of valor. He was courageous enough to ask questions to Bro. Eli. He asked Bro. Eli to show him the tablet where the commandments to Moses were written. An awakening, that’s how I could call it. Bro. Eli convinced me with his answer. This man is really telling the truth. His answer is really sensible. He is right: that tablet is impossible to be found today!
For the second time in this same year, I had again been invited. Not the same as the gathering that I attended before though. It was an indoctrination session. They said that I only have to listen, nothing more and nothing less. But since I had to work, I disregarded the invitation.
It was in 1997 when I was again invited to an indoctrination session. Now, I did what I hadn’t done before. I tried to respond to the invitation, and I was not sorry for what I did. I kept on attending until the indoctrination sessions were over. Every time I finished a session, there was a noticeable joy in me that reflected on my face. I couldn’t explain that happiness. I just knew I was really happy.
I got affiliated with this church with no feelings of uncertainty. What I do know is that, I just followed what my heart told me. I couldn’t forget what I have heard in the doctrines. It felt like I was floating. It felt like I was free and fresh.
The moment I heard Bro. Eli, I was certain that he is different from other pastors, mostly, if I heard him live. Compared to my former religion, I didn’t hear teachings like I heard from him. I couldn’t feel any joy. It was more of a standing-and-sitting gathering and some segments of kissing a saliva-coated statue.
When the priest utters “amen,” everyone in the mass is compelled to reply “amen” too. I can’t find any happiness with that. Unlike in Ang Dating Daan, there is a lot to learn, like when Bro. Eli discussed about “God’s own earth.” It was so amazing that it still remains in my mind.
April 13, 1998, I was baptized. We were fifteen at first until we became four: two men and two women. We were baptized in Old Central in Apalit Pampanga. Looking back now, I think this was what my dream meant – me with the people in white apparel, with white balloons, and walking on clouds.
One of my principles now that I learned from Bro. Eli is: “Even if I would just be in a corner, I want to be in heaven.” I thank God that although before, I didn’t take heed of His teachings, He still found ways to have me in His fold.
I am one who had donated my other kidney to a brother. Bro. Gari Galvan and I met in this way: When they announced in the congregation that they needed some volunteers that will stay in the Convention Center to clean it, Bro. Gari Galvan was one of those who stayed to do the cleaning. I remember some of his companions were Bro. Daniel Laguinto, and Bro. Eric. They were the people who cleaned the Convention Center before. To that announcement many volunteered. Luckily, I was one of them.
I was with my friend Tony; we joined the team who stayed at the Convention Center to clean it up. It became a habit to us. Every time, after every thanksgiving, we joined the work force in cleaning. Later, I decided to remain in this place for good.
Before, I was commuting to and from our house at Fourth Estate. But, when I heard that there would be a ministerial test to be held in Apalit, I decided to stay. I became a guard for the Church’s library.
Later, Bro. Gari got sick; they said it was kidney failure and donors were needed. Kidney donors are hard to find. Since our brother needed help, five of us volunteered to give him one of ours. Checkups were administered to us, hoping to find a good match for our brother-in-faith.
I was certain at that moment that I could give one of my kidneys just to extend my brother’s life. The only thing that was in my mind that moment was a phrase from the Bible that Bro. Eli used to mention to us, in the book of I John: “Whosoever has properties in this world, when he did see his brother in need and not give mercy to him. How will the love of God remain in him?”
This was the only thing in my mind that moment.
Five of us had our blood checked. No one had matched the patient’s blood type, except me. I was the lucky donor to our brother, Gari. Through the help of Bro. Eli, an operation was done to Gari and me. Thank God Gari became fine; he continued his service to the church. He only needed maintenance medicine to remain healthy. Amazingly, the financer of his operation was also the supplier of his medicine. I really admire Bro. Eli for that deed. He is truly a messenger of God, not only in words but also in deed.
(Cesar Martir is a Security Guard at La Verdad Christian College).