- Posted June 22, 2014 by
Quezon City, Philippines
Iglesia Ni Cristo continues to proclaim God's message in great assemblies
A mammoth crowd attended the relief and evangelical mission of the Church Of Christ or Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), which observers say could be the fastest-growing Christian church in the world. These photos were taken during the June 20 "My Countrymen, My Brethren" activity held in the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum in Palawan, the longest island province in the Philippines.
The coliseum was literally filled to the rafters. But even outside, people filled the huge grounds of the city coliseum, turning it into a virtual sea of people – both young and old. Police gave a crowd estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 people. Organizers gave some 25,000 goody bags containing five kilos of rice each after the event in the evening.
A minister who spoke before the Bible exposition said such huge evangelical missions under the Church's project, "My Countrymen, My Brethren," are not just happening in the Philippines but in about a hundred other countries all over the world where the church is already established. Members of the church all over the world have been actively inviting guests to attend such events called evangelical missions as the church leadership headed by its Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo launched a global church campaign called "Abundant Fruit-Bearing.".
The activities are further intensified this year, 2014, considered the Centennial year of the Church Of Christ which will be celebrating what it described as "100 years of God's blessings" on July 27.
The celebrations will be conducted in various sites all over the world. But the main celebration will be held in the just-completed 55,000-seater Philippine Arena touted as the largest indoor or domed arena in the world. The Church Of Christ caused the construction of the Philippine Arena in the province of Bulacan using only voluntary monetary offerings from its members worldwide. It will be inaugurated in July before the grand Centennial celebration of the Church.
Last June 15, the church also conducted a big evangelical mission in Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan, Cebu, where the Catholic faith was first spread in the Philippines in 1521. Historically, it was also in Mactan island where, in April 1521, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in battle by Datu Lapu-Lapu for which the city is now named.
The belief of the Church of Christ that there is only one God, the Father, and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a man and not God, runs counter to the belief in the divinity of Christ by the Catholic and Protestant churches.
It further teaches that it is the only true church established by Christ Whom its members worship as their Lord and Savior.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church of Christ was registered on July 27, 1914 in the Philippines by a Filipino, Felix Y. Manalo whom detractors claim was just an ordinary man with no scholastic achievement. But church members believe that the church’s emergence in the predominantly Catholic country in the Far East at that time was the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy as written in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 62:11, Isaiah 43:5-6; Isaiah 46:11) regarding the re-emergence of the Church established by Christ in the last days. The INC believes the first-century Church of Christ was apostatized after the death of the apostles.
They also believe that Felix Y. Manalo, who registered the church on July 27, 1914 was the fulfillment of the prophecy regarding “God’s Last Messenger.” While Manalo did not intend the registration of the Church of Christ in the Phillippines to be on the exact date of the start of World War I, historical records proved that the date of the church registration in the Philippines indeed coincided with the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on Serbia that signaled the beginning of the first World War. The Church of Christ believes that even the exact date of the re-emergence of the church was prophesied in the Bible, as well as the place of its re-emergence.
It also teaches that the members of the Church of Christ that will re-emerge in the last days would come from the Protestant and Catholic churches. The INC believes that the Protestant and Catholic faith are the ones being referred to as the “north” and “south” in Isaiah 43:6. The Protestant faith is predominant in northern Europe and North America, while the Catholic faith is predominant in the southern regions of the world, particularly in Southern Europe and South America, according to Church of Christ doctrines that cited not only the Bible but historical references as well.
Because most of its biblical doctrines ran counter to Catholic and Protestant precepts, its members suffered from intense persecution, especially in the beginning, including Felix Manalo who came from a predominantly Catholic family. The Church of Christ does not refer to Felix Manalo as the founder, but only as an instrument -- as God’s last messenger for the church’s re-emergence in the last days.
One hundred years later, the Church of Christ that was first looked down upon in the Philippines in 1914 has now spread to a hundred more countries all over the world, with buildings of worship uniquely distinctive with its towering spires and slightly Gothic theme adapted with modern designs. Thousands of such “houses of worship” now dot the Philippine islands, becoming landmarks in the towns where they are built. Outside the country, such worship buildings were also constructed for the Church of Christ worship services. Often, the Church of Christ buys properties and church structures of other religions which were already abandoned or put up for sale. They then renovate the places and structures to fit the design and use for church worship services and offices. Currently, there are 35 buildings of worship being constructed outside the Philippines.
In the last five years, the Church of Christ has been registered in 17 more countries, and has built seven more church district offices and two more main office buildings outside the Philippines. In the Philippines, 59 buildings of worship are currently being constructed, in addition to 50 buildings of worship that had already been finished construction and offered to God for worship services. At least 2,740 new ministers were also ordained in the last five years
INC General Auditor minister Glicerio B. Santos Jr., said the church will continue to conduct huge evangelical missions all over the world even after the church’s Centennial celebration.
The evangelical missions under the banner project “My Countrymen, My Brethren” have been conducted almost weekly – sometimes even twice a week – in various parts of the Philippines and in other countries since it was launched in April last year, reaching more than 50 million people worldwide, Santos said.
To date, the Church of Christ members come from 124 races around the world in about a hundred countries.