While Tropical Storm Ondoy, international name Ketsana, brought flashfloods that wrecked billions of pesos worth of properties and claimed hundreds of lives in the Philippines, Members Church of God International, a group known to thank God for everything, was not in any way hindered in offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.
“Whether there’s rain, typhoon, or flood, whatever the situation is, whether there is a problem or not, thanksgiving must continue.” This is what Bro. Daniel Razon, MCGI Vice Presiding Minister, said during the congregation’s weekly thanksgiving celebration held Saturday, September 26, at the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.
From his recent visit to the brethren in America, Bro. Daniel once again brought home good news concerning the Church’s evangelical endeavors. He welcomed, for this week alone, about 300 newly baptized brethren all over the globe, including 19 in South America and 17 in Japan. In the Philippines, 93 were baptized in Pampanga, 14 in Bacolod, 12 in Tuguegarao, 6 in Davao, 44 in Daet, and several others in different provinces. There were also newly-baptized brethren in some parts of North America, United States, Africa and Papua New Guinea.
Although tedious, the nonstop preaching of Bro. Eliseo Soriano, MCGI Presiding Minister and host of the religious radio-television program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) allows the Church of God to officiate string of baptisms across continents. Diverse nationalities now begin to perceive the uniqueness of the true Church in terms of faith and doctrines as compared to what they have been hearing all their lives from their pastors. For the first time also, they have seen a different kind of preacher, one that is not hypocritical and who fully adheres to the Bible.
Unlike in the past when most of the brethren abroad are also Filipinos, most of the converts nowadays are non-Filipinos. They now dominate the locales, where the only Filipino is the worker. The choir and Teatro Kristiano (Christian Theatre) groups are no longer Filipinos as well. Yet many of them, whether black or white, have learned to sing in a foreign tongue: Tagalog. To once again let the congregation feel the effect and expanse of evangelization in other countries, Bro. Eli sent a video of three Portuguese-speaking American brethren in their teens singing Hanggang sa Langit (Up to Heaven’s Throne), a Tagalog song.
Debates re-emerge in expositions
In America, people who come to the Bible expositions do not believe right away, Bro. Eli said. They bring their own Bibles; and to those who have none Bro. Eli provides. The exposition would start at eight in the morning and would end at eight in the evening, yet the guests still don’t want to go home. They fall in line to throw some more questions to the phenomenal preacher.
A huge man about six feet three inches tall came to one of Bro. Eli’s Bible expositions, and, believing that what Bro. Eli was saying was wrong, started shouting at the 62-year old preacher. Bro. Eli then told him not to shout and to listen first, and he obliged. Unlike pastors of other religions who insist their errors, when the man saw that he was wrong, he already kept silent. After 2 months of listening to Bro. Eli, the man who thought he could scare a preacher of God by his loud voice and intimidating size was baptized in the Church of God. The video of his baptism was shown for the congregation across the globe.
Along with the continuous Bible Expositions, Bro. Daniel informed the brethren that debates are again taking place. In other countries, since they are not yet familiar with Bro. Eli, there are pastors who are still confident to take the unbeatable preacher head on. Bro. Daniel reported that since Bro. Eli’s debate with the pastor of the Assembly of God a few weeks ago was televised in different parts of America, Assembly of God members and pastors were able to watch, and the one who debated with Bro. Eli was already excommunicated from their congregation.
The now former pastor, after his defeat and excommunication, continuously attends Bro. Eli’s Bible expositions and already wants to be baptized. “With God’s mercy, the one I debated with here last month is already attending in our locale and helping there, that pastor of the Assembly of God. Thanks be to God.” Bro. Eli said.
Recently, another pastor came forward and challenged Bro. Eli. The debate is set to take place on Wednesday, October 7. The challenger is a former policeman and seems to be a brave one, just like the others before him who tried to measure Bro. Eli’s wisdom.
A week earlier as of this writing, another pastor of the Assembly of God came to one of Bro. Eli’s Bible expositions. He was a pastor who taught among pastors. In the Assembly of God, they call him professor los profesores. The 68 year old former pastor said that after listening to Bro. Eli on television, he found nothing against his teachings, because they were all being read from the Bible. Next Wednesday, on the debate, he said that he will call all the pastors that he knows and will let them face Bro. Eli, God willing. “Please do call all the pastors.” Bro. Eli replied.
The fearlessness in Bro. Eli to defend the faith against any resistance was not developed by experience but by faith. As a mouthpiece used by God, none has ever withstood his biblical expertise. Those who tried to dismantle it experienced the same fate. “Here in America, in North and South, their teachings are all the same, the Protestant, Born Again, Seventh Day Adventist, Assembly of God, et cetera. Before I came here I already knew their foolish doctrines. God has already prepared me for this.”
A different style of persecution
Bro. Daniel also expressed his thoughts regarding the scenario in other countries. He said that what is happening here in the Philippines, the kind of persecution the Church of God experiences, is also the case abroad. Pastors of different religions who are being hit by Bro. Eli’s preaching are now beginning to convene, to malign and destroy Bro. Eli.
“They have a different style,” Bro. Daniel added. They sell Bibles at $60 each and say that those are from Bro. Eli. They also download and reproduce the CDs and DVDs of Bro. Eli that are being shown on television, as well as video files and clips, and sell them at $34 a DVD. And if in the Philippines many born again denominations preach 10% or tithes, in America they collect a total of 30%: 10% for the Father, 10% for the Son, and 10% for the Holy Spirit.
Behind Bro. Eli’s endless travels
Thanksgiving to God is one activity that MCGI does not neglect, much more its leader. No matter the obstacles, Christians will not fail to give thanks to God for everything that happens in their lives. In traveling to these assemblies, however, Bro. Eli’s difficulty in America is a different story. After the Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines, from 7 am to 5 pm, worship service follows which lasts until 8-9 in the evening. After the worship service, brethren in the Philippines can go home and rest.
In America, what follows is another whole day affair, the English version of the Thanksgiving Day. After the English version, exposition follows. After the exposition, Bro. Eli will travel for 24 hours to another exposition, which starts at eight in the morning until eight in the evening. The only break time he gets is a 1 hour lunch break and a 30-minute coffee break. After the exposition—a whole day of answering queries of people from all walks of life—Bro. Eli will again travel for 16 hours.
“There are three locations here where I go to conduct expositions and one in the Philippines, so a total of four expositions a week, with God’s help. So you see how busy we are. This past week we were very busy, almost every day. We were on the road for three days, and four days on exposition. Even if my body hurts from traveling, the exposition continues.” Bro. Eli explained to the brethren.
In the vehicle as he travels, Bro. Eli is still working. He makes topics and outlines for worship services and thanksgiving days. While on the road, he administers to the Church in different locations, chatting with the workers and Ministers-in-Charge. Thankfully, managerial jobs today can be done from afar, and through modern technology, Bro. Eli is able to administer all over the world wherever he is. He is the type of preacher who is not fond of resting.
…but the labourers are few
Three thousand kilometers from where Bro. Eli conducts Bible expositions, there are places that are being reached by his television programs. People in those places haven’t seen Bro. Eli personally, but they are already being indoctrinated. Three have already been baptized, and more than 30 others remain under indoctrination. Many other places like this await workers to come to them.
“Hurry up those who are studying, there are many places waiting, there are no workers.” entreated Bro. Eli. “We lack workers here. There’s a place here that is very far from ours, about 3000 kilometers. I haven’t reached it because I am busy here in three locations where we go to conduct expositions.”
Bro. Eli receives thousands of email from different locations in America. One of the emails said, “Come to us already. We have left our church. We do not attend anymore. What will you have us do? Come here already!” Another email requested, “Bro. Eli, I have here a big stadium, come here and I will not ask for any payment. Just come here and let us congregate here.” These are the people waiting but are very far from Bro. Eli’s location, about 4-5 thousand kilometers from end to end. Bro. Eli himself is overwhelmed by the sheer size of the country he is in. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.
“There are many invitations, and I cannot respond to them all. And I am already old. I want our program on television to be broadcasted live so that even if I am just here people can ask me questions. But it’s very expensive here. The expenses for a one-hour broadcast here is more than the expenses of UNTV in a month. And we only broadcast here for one hour. If only I can broadcast here for three hours that will be a great thing.”
Bro. Daniel disclosed that the Church now has one channel broadcasting 24/7 like UNTV all over Europe. The Church also maintains different cable channels. “We need more workers to help us to propagate our faith and the word of God in different parts of the world.” he added.
Bro. Eli’s name has become very popular even in Russia. The enemies of truth, by propagating lies in the internet saying that Bro. Eli is a rapist and other gossips, have made Bro. Eli’s name very popular. People then became interested and searched in the internet, and then were able to hear the doctrines. Now they are waiting for baptism.
“I pray God that we’ll have more workers here to help me in administering to the people and the brethren. We need workers here who know how to speak English.”
Responding to the urgent call
In response to the growing needs of global evangelization, Sis. Luz Cruz, Bro. Eli’s reader and an old Church worker, reported in front of the congregation the actions being taken by the Evangelical Ministry. “We are teaching some (workers) here in the Evangelical Ministry. It’s been going on for two weeks, and district servants and regular workers are attending. They are more than 30, and with God’s help they are ready for deployment abroad.”
“We also opened a new Level 1 Workers Training, it just started and 300 came in. The Level 2 Workers are less than 200.” she added.
Before the thanksgiving ended, a video was played showing a foreigner from Spain who was able to listen to Bro. Eli through his broadcast. The Old Path is already being watched in London, in Spain, in Germany, and all over Europe, which is expected to bear fruits after some time, with God’s mercy. “Bro. Eli, thank you very much that your program is being broadcast all over Europe which I am watching these days.” said the guest from Spain.
MCGI will celebrate its 3rd Quarter International Thanksgiving to God on October 2-4 at the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center. Whether another Ondoy or Ketsana arrives, brethren all over the country and from abroad are expected to come and celebrate another monumental event, which most other congregations forget: to give thanks to whom due thanksgiving. “I will go also.” (Zechariah 8:21)