PAMPANGA, PHILIPPINES – A total of almost 1000 newly baptized members from different parts of the Philippines were welcomed in the Members Church of God International (MCGI) last Saturday, August 8, during the congregation’s weekly thanksgiving celebration.
The baptism was held a day before thanksgiving, Friday, after a series of indoctrination sessions conducted worldwide by Bro. Eliseo Soriano, MCGI Presiding Minister, which lasted two to three months.
The newly-baptized offered their thanksgiving to God at 2 p.m. in the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. ADD stands for Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), Bro. Eli Soriano’s 26 years running radio and television program.
For the newly-born babes in Christ, it was another momentous day after the day of baptism, being the first that they have ever truly thanked God and offered Him songs of praises. For them it is the start of a new life.
After the resounding, joyful noise of glorifying the Almighty God onstage, joined by 50 thousand faithful on the convention ground and hundreds of thousands more simultaneously monitoring in six continents, what was supposed to be short testimonies of how these new brethren came to know the Church and Bro. Eli turned into exciting revelations.
A brother in his 60’s, former member of the born again movement, promptly approached the program emcee to narrate his story. He said that he used to offer tithes in his former religion, because that was what they were taught to do.
Upon hearing Bro. Eli’s teachings, however, he said that he abandoned his former belief. He now knows that offering tithes is a commandment to the Israelites and not to Christians, and he even cited the verses he learned during the indoctrination series.
Another one who came forward to share her story was a young lady who exclaimed that she was a former Iglesia ni Cristo member. She recounted that through the indoctrination sessions, she learned that what was being inculcated in their minds about Bro. Eli during their worship services in Iglesia ni Cristo are all lies.
The young lady said she didn’t know that members of Ang Dating Daan were mauled and almost killed by members of her former religion, until she saw it with her own eyes through the video tape played during the indoctrination.
It can be remembered that the life-threatening incident happened in April 2006, when hundreds of INC members cornered and beat to a pulp ADD members in front of Jollibee, a fast food chain in Apalit, Pampanga.
When it was almost time for Bro. Eli to discuss the rest of the day’s topic, one of the newly-baptized, in her desire to testify of God’s deliverance, was given the chance to speak last. A sister in her early 50’s, she described how her gambling, drinking, smoking and other vices stopped when she heard Bro. Eli’s teachings.
When she learned during the indoctrination about how a Christian woman ought to dress herself up, she said she immediately bought herself modest clothes to adhere to the teachings of Christ. The doctrines changed her lifestyle, she said.
Along with the newly-baptized, brethren from abroad including Locale of Vietnam, Locale of Ireland, officers and choir members of Locale of Saipan, Women’s Club of Locale of Japan, were grouped together in giving thanks to God.
There were also the baptizers, the Baptism Committee and Staff, districts in several provinces, the Music Ministry 24/7 (participants of nonstop singing of praises to God), and the August 8, 2009 Celebrants to offer their respective thanksgiving.
Members of the Church of God believe that whenever such a celebration is being performed and dedicated to God, the host of angels in heaven celebrates with them.
A report from abroad made the Thanksgiving Day even livelier. Speaking from the United Arab Emirates through live streaming, Vice Presiding Minister Bro. Daniel Razon said that in different parts of the globe, especially in America, baptism is also nearing.
Through the efforts of Bro. Eli, with the help of God and every member of the Church, “God willing, we will again have new brethren who are non-Filipinos.” he said.