- Posted June 14, 2014 by
Quezon City, Philippines
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Fastest-growing Christian church intensifies evangelical missions as its Centennial nears
MORE than a hundred thousand people gathered in the rural town of Abucay in the historic province of Bataan in the Philippines where the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ – now considered as one of the fastest growing Christian churches in the world -- held another evangelical mission under the project called, “My Countrymen, My Brethren.”
It was held on Friday, June 13, in the sprawling Santana Leisure Farm grounds in Sitio Sibul, and neither wind nor strong rains the previous day stopped it from happening.
Just three days ago, on June 10, a hundred thousand people also attended a similar event in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro held in the vast grounds of the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT). And a couple of days before that, on June 8, such a grand evangelical activity was also held in the Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City, a few kilometers from historic Manila, where hundreds of thousands coming from Metro Manila attended.
On June 2, such an event was also held in Hong Kong, where at least 10,000 people gathered at the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Center. And more such events will be happening soon worldwide, according to the organizers.
To a curious observer, it seemed almost ordinary for this fast-growing Christian Church that was first registered in the Philippines on July 27, 1914, to be able to gather thousands to hundreds of thousands of people in a single venue for an evangelical activity done successively in different parts of the country, and in different continents of the globe.
And for its members and its leaders, this phenomenon can best be explained by one simple thing: this is God’s work in these last days, and no force on earth can stop it.
Its members who tirelessly invite people to such gatherings, and its ministers who tirelessly preach about the “message of salvation” as written in the Bible in these activities have one motivation – that it is God’s will for them to do so. Their goal is for more people to hear God’s instructions regarding salvation.
In what the Church Of Christ considers its Centennial Year, a global campaign called “Abundant Fruit-bearing” was launched by its Church Administration based in the Philippines headed by its Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, to stress the significance of this work.
Its general auditor, Minister Glicerio B. Santos Jr., said these evangelical missions would go on even after the Church’s Centennial celebration on July 27. From its humble beginnings in the Philippines, the Church of Christ is now a fast- growing global Christian Church spread in over 100 countries and territories across the globe.
“God has indeed fulfilled all His promises to the Church in all its 100 years of its existence,” Santos said as he revealed plans for more extensive grand evangelical activities in various parts of the world.
Similar evangelical missions are scheduled to be held in Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur, the United States, Europe and South Africa, Santos said. In the last year, these activities were also held outside the Philippines such as in the Dominican Republic; Milan and Rome, Italy; Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia, and in various parts of the US.
“We will not stop. We are continuing these efforts so that more people will know about the message of salvation and about the Iglesia Ni Cristo which will be celebrating its Centennial on July 27. This is all for God’s glory,” said Santos who officiates the Bible expositions in these events.
“We would like first for you to understand that we, ministers of the Church Of Christ, are not the ones who teach. We merely ask the questions and let the Bible answer. It is God Who is teaching through His Words as written in the Bible,” said Santos at the start of each Bible exposition, such as the one held recently in Bataan.
On Friday, June 13, before the actual Bible exposition, a two-hour entertainment program, with various singers and performers, kept the people glued to their places. More than a hundred thousand people gathered in the venue grounds, carrying umbrellas to protect them from the occasional rain.
One of the crowd favorites was Abe Velasco’s “The Golden Show” where the acrobat showed heart-stopping stunts with comedic twists.
Among the entertainers were young artists as well as veteran Filipino singers Anthony Castelo and Victor Wood. Wood, 68, was known in the 1970s as the Philippines’ “Jukebox King”. Wearing a metallic sky blue blazer, Wood sang “Sweet Caroline” and a Christian song.
Wood was baptized into the Church in January this year. He joined almost every “My Countrymen, My Brethren” activity since last year when he was still undergoing Bible doctrinal studies with the Church Of Christ enduring long travels. On June 2, he also performed in Hong Kong.
Asked why he was joining the said hectic activities that required long land and air travels, he said: “This is my duty to God.”
“I am not just singing to entertain people, but singing to please God so that more people will be encouraged to hear and study His words,” Wood said in an interview after his performance.
After the entertainment program, the main part of the activity, the Bible exposition, started.
The ministers walked on a makeshift stage set up in a vast plain surrounded by mountains and hills. About a hundred choir members in white sang hymns of praises to God before the preaching.
Three huge white tents were set up that can accommodate thousands. Each tent had large LED screens showing the main stage where a lectern was set up before which the two of the ministers stood before the mammoth crowd. Tens of thousands more people that cannot be accommodated in the huge tents, sat on the ground outside the tents where LED screens with large speakers were also set up.
After a short prayer, a message from the Church of Christ Executive Minister Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo, was first read by a minister, thanking all the guests who came. He said that the Church members are doing this out of love for their fellowmen.
In the Bible exposition that followed, minister Santos raised a barrage of questions about Judgment Day, citing verses from the Bible which were all read by another church minister beside him. A large LED screen set up behind them would then flash these biblical verses so that the audience could also see for themselves the verses being read.
The initial verses read were from the New Testament books of Revelation, Matthew, Thessalonians, and John. He ended with verses from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 41:9-13) that referred to the prophesy about the “last messenger of God” in the last days, which the Iglesia Ni Cristo members believe was fulfilled in the person of Felix Y. Manalo, a Filipino who registered the Church Of Christ in the Philippines on July 27, 1914. The church ministers also cite verses in the Bible that they claimed point to the exact date of the re-emergence of the Church established by Christ in the Far East. They also cite verses that refer to the place where this Church will re-emerge in the Far East, the fulfillment of which, they claim, is the islands of the Philippines. Even its growth and global expansion, they said, is prophesied in the Bible.
Such evangelical missions are done in venues that can accommodate thousands to hundreds of thousands of people under the Church’s banner project called “My Countrymen, My Brethren” that was launched in April 2013. These grand activities had since been done almost weekly –sometimes even twice a week.
To date, Santos said more than 50 million people worldwide had been reached by such campaigns in just one year.
Soon, the Church Of Christ will be celebrating its Centennial worldwide on July 27. The center of the celebrations will be held Bulacan, particularly at the Philippine Arena, considered as the “largest domed arena in the world.”