PAMPANGA, PHILIPPINES – Just a week after the brethren in South America gave thanks to God for bringing Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), from the east to the western part of the world to preach the gospel, another 105 souls from the same continent submitted themselves to baptism and joined the brotherhood of Christians.
Last Saturday, September 5, through live video feed emanating from outside the Philippines, Vice Presiding Minister Bro. Daniel Razon welcomed more than 200 new brethren across the globe, including the 105 Americans, during the Thanksgiving Day at the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. About a hundred were baptized in the Philippines, while others were from different countries such as Australia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
Happy to welcome the new brethren, Bro. Daniel gave thanks to God for the new fruits of Bro. Eli’s perseverance in propagating the righteousness and the word of God. “This is the work of God in us: to call those who will serve Him, to call people who will be elected in the Church, to call souls who will be worthy of His kingdom and be part of His glory which He promised us.”
A video footage of the baptism in South America was shown to the thousands in attendance in six continents monitoring through live streaming. As they were immersed in water, recipients of the holy baptism were seen in tears, realizing how important in their lives the moment was. They were all non-Filipinos. God’s calling is being fulfilled beyond race, language and color, thus the fulfillment of Galatians 3:28.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Through the leadership of Bro. Eli, the most queried Bible scholar and host of the religious program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), MCGI conducts continuous indoctrinations as well as Bible expositions in different parts of the world. And this, the continuous propagation of the righteousness and the word of God, entails a lot of sacrifices, especially on the part of Bro. Eli.
“This is no joke.” Bro. Daniel explained. “We know that we have to spend a lot of money, time and effort. We can consider it a herculean task.”
Bro. Daniel recounted how that a few decades ago, Bro. Eli didn’t even think nor imagine that he will ever go out of the Philippines. During Bro. Daniel’s school years until the time he worked in the broadcast industry, the Bible studies they conducted were just in nearby provinces. Their small vision of covering the whole country compelled Bro. Eli to use the media.
Bro. Eli started broadcasting simultaneously in about 12 local radio stations, one in Laoag, in Baguio and in other provinces. Later on, he saw the need to widen the scope of broadcast to cover a wider audience. After simultaneously broadcasting through radio, which started in 1980, and through television in 1983, only then were they able to reach the corners of the Philippines.
Still, Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel didn’t think that there will be events that will force Bro. Eli to go out of the country. In 2005, the harassment posed by enemies of truth influential to the government culminated to imminent dangers to Bro. Eli’s life, and therefore to the congregation he leads, which signaled his supposedly temporary exile. He did not immediately see that there is really a direction that God is pointing to, where the mission of saving souls shall breathe new life. Now, it has become clearer what is spoken of in Matthew 24:14.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
“There is no big thing that God cannot do.” Bro. Daniel resolved. He noted how that in various parts of the world where Bro. Eli goes to, the reception to the word of God is even warmer, the expansion and increase of the brethren is much faster. Comparing the past to the present, Bro. Daniel said that when they started preaching the gospel in the Philippines, if there were 20 or 30 persons who submitted themselves to baptism in one occasion, that was already many.
Now, people being baptized in different locations, like in some parts of Africa, in Papua New Guinea, and in other continents, come in groups, sometimes starting from the pastor down to the members. They are able to listen and get enlightened by the teachings and righteousness of God in so many ways the congregation had never imagined before.
“We didn’t even think of these things.” Bro. Daniel said. “Now we are in a state wherein we have to intensify the more our diligence to allow the righteousness and teachings of God reach more souls, whatever their race is.”
Hand in hand with preaching the gospel to other countries, however, is the growing challenge of language diversity. The problem now is not just the dialect. During the infancy of the Church of God in the Philippines, it was not too complicated as many of the brethren speak other dialects, such as Cebuano, Ilocano and Kapampangan. It was easier to go to the Visayas region, or to Mindanao, or to the remote areas of Luzon. Now, outside the Philippines, it’s a totally different case.
In the eastern part of the globe, there is Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, which has several dialects, including Cantonese, Mandarin and Fukien. In the western part, there is French, Italian and many other languages. In America alone, there are many places to go to. The brethren in South America actually speaks Portuguese. To be able to cover all of America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia, Bro. Daniel disclosed that they are now thinking of getting more satellite services.