By Sister Ella Canono-Longoria
PNW District Correspondent
SEATTLE, Washington – Located just 24 miles south of Seattle, Washington, the Tacoma Dome which is the world’s largest arena with a wooden dome, became the venue of the first ever Pacific Northwest Outreach Evangelical Mission under the Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko (My Countrymen, My Brethren) project of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
Brother EDUARDO V. MANALO, the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo enjoined the brethren in this part of the world to show our love for our fellowmen. Brethren in the ecclesiastical district of Pacific Northwest responded with enthusiasm. The event was held last December 14, 2013, Saturday, with almost 5,000 guests and over 2,000 brethren from as far as Spokane, Washington and Albany, Oregon traveled to the dome in 150 buses, as well as in their own private transportation.
Some of the brethren and guests from Bremerton even took the Washington state ferries across the Puget Sound to be able to participate in this very special outreach activity. Brandon Hart, who drove for about 28 miles from Port Orchard said, “To learn about God, an hour drive is nothing, and I would even drive further to attend other events the Church of Christ will be sponsoring”.
Due to the early arrival of the members and their guests, the Exhibit Hall opened its doors earlier than the scheduled 12:00 noon start. Everyone had a chance to avail of numerous services that were provided by the members of the Church. Over 25 booths of free services, resources and fun activities were available to everyone. Guests patiently lined up to be served by the brethren. Services rendered included (1) job enhancement resources (2) stress management (3) massage therapy (4) eye examinations (5) health and wellness (6) flu shots (7) fitness and nutrition (8) blood pressure testing and (9) dental care.
Sister Thelma Guadiz, a registered Nurse at the Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton said, “more than 231 flu shots were given”. Hundreds of people not only receive oral hygiene goody bags, but most of the dental booth guests had a chance to have an initial dental examination. Guests were very thankful because most of them did not have dental insurance. “Because they cannot afford the high cost of dental care, having had a consultation during the Outreach event gave the guests an idea of what to expect when they are given the final treatment plan,” says Sister Kathleen Saturay, DMD.
Leslie Jenkins from Lakewood who brought along her young son said, “This event is very helpful for a single parent like me who lives in a housing program and on my own. My son and I really need help in medical and dental services and job enhancement resources”. Henry Williams, team leader for the Job Enhancement Resources booth said, “Hundreds of CDs were given out to guests with information on how to start the job search, things to know about resume writing, improving interviewing skills, and many job resource links. Our Church advisors for this booth provided valuable advice that will help guests improve their ability to gain employment in this competitive job market.”
A family man from Everett, Baldemar Ramirez came with his wife and 2 children, along with his mother-in-law. Speaking in Spanish and translated into English by Brother Bob Longoria from Burien, said, “This is really a good opportunity not only to learn about the Church of Christ but also to benefit from the free services being provided to us today”.
The healthcare and job enhancement resources services provided at the event were very appropriate considering the current statistics on healthcare insurance and job unemployment:
- “Over one quarter of Americans between the ages of 18-64 do not have any health insurance.
- The Center of Disease Control (CDC) released a new study showing 59.1 million Americans do not have health insurance and even worse, the people who cannot afford it are increasingly members of the middle class.
- In Washington, 14.2% of people over 18 (or 945,589) and 6.4% of people under 18 (or 101,614) do not have health insurance.
- As of 2006, there are 166,174 people unemployed in the State of Washington.
Halfway through the event was the most important part of the activity, the preaching of the words of God which was conducted by Brother Glenn R. Gomez, the Pacific Northwest District Minister. He expounded on the history of the Church of Christ from its humble beginnings in the Philippines to where it is today, with houses of worship built all over the world and worship services being conducted in almost all of the inhabited continents of the globe. He clearly emphasized that these accomplishments could not have happened without the help and guidance of the Almighty God.
“This event is a wonderful experience for me especially to hear about the words of God, and to me, that’s the most important thing about this event,” commented by Jose Flores Dioniso from Seatac. Lucille Hemmen from Seattle says, “I have gone to a lot of booths and had my blood pressure taken. I was waiting for the preaching part because that is the main thing I came here for.“ “This event is great, I feel so good out here, and I feel so loved” added Lessie Small (Lucille’s mom), also from Seattle.
Stephen Osei, who is originally from Ghana West Africa and lives now in Seattle, attended the event with his friend Larry. Stephen had just finished his studies of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and now is preparing for his baptism next month. He said, “I am here today because I would like to know more about the Church of Christ and to meet other brethren from other local congregations”. “I felt the Lord today during the preaching and the singing of the hymns.” says Brandon Hart. His mom, Shirley Hart added “I love the way the word of God was preached, it was very clear. The minister was easy to understand. I really enjoyed listening”.
After the evangelical mission was conducted, several booths became available for the guests so they could ask questions to the ministers who answered them by quoting passages from the Bible. Hundreds of guests expressed interest that they would continue attending Bible Studies on doctrines of the Church.
A concert presented by Band Together and some young brethren followed the evangelical mission. Attendees were entertained by members of the Kadiwa and Binhi, as well as the Children’s Worship Service members through songs that are all originally composed by Sister Melissa Conde, Brother CJ Stogsdill and Sister Annabel Fernandez.
Based on the many testimonials received, the INC Outreach Program and Evangelical Mission truly enlightened the lives of the guests and brethren who attended. Our Almighty God was truly with us on this day. We are very pleased that were able to help many people in the states of Washington and Oregon, not only with the vital services that were provided to them but most importantly with the message coming from our Almighty God.
Brother Glenn R. Gomez contributed to this report.