IGLESIA NI CRISTO CHURCH OF CHRIST

Church Of Christ at 105: Steadfastly marching on in Christ’s victory procession

By JENSEN DG. MAÑEBOG

SINCE THE DAY of its registration with the government in the Philippines 105 years ago, the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) has admittedly been through a lot. Its journey officially began concurrently with the eruption of the First World War, and has continued to the Second World War, as well as with the ensuing insurgencies in the country and other social unrests and upheavals in the world. Many of these, plus the various malicious ploys of its detractors, had their own share of hindering this God’s work—which, nonetheless, all proved unsuccessful.

That the Iglesia Ni Cristo officially started on July 27, 1914—concurrent with the outbreak of World War I—is by no means an accident. God prophesied the period of its emergence as “ends of the earth” (Isa. 41:9-10; 43:5-6), which would be signaled by a war global in scope followed by another world war involving nations and kingdoms among others (Matt. 24:3, 33, 6-8). Likewise, it was not a stroke of luck that this salvation work of God has surpassed all the trials, for the Bible testifies that “the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Isa. 41:20 New King James Version) and God Himself declared “I will work, and who can hinder it?” (Isa. 43:13 American Standard Version).

In commemoration of the Church’s 105 years of existence, members “give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds” and “sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy” (Ps. 107:21-22 New International Version). God’s constant guidance, fellowship, and blessings to the Church ever since are manifested in the “victory procession” or the parade of victories that God has blessed the Church with:

“But thanks be to God! For in union with Christ we are always led by God as prisoners in Christ's victory procession. God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost.” (II Cor. 2:14-15 Good News Bible)

Iglesia Ni Cristo members thank God for appointing in the Church an Executive Minister, currently Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, who valiantly leads the Church in the proper way of serving the Lord toward the perfection of faith. Through his leadership, God-given Church victories include the following:

(1) The Church continues to spread all over the world, now having more than 7,000 congregations in 152 countries and territories, with membership comprising 147 nationalities. One of its memorable expansion works is its registration in Rome, Italy on July 27, 1994. Hence, this year, the Church celebrates the silver anniversary of the restoration of the true Church in the city where apostasy from the true Christian Church was deeply entrenched. Each year, more and more pastors, preachers, and leaders of other religions also denounce their faith to join the true Church Of Christ.

(2) There is a constant increase in the number of Church officers, ministerial students, and ordained ministers. Through the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) School For Ministers (SFM) which currently has 13 extensions (seven in the Philippines and six in other countries), the Church produces many ministerial workers who are then assigned to different parts of the world to help in spreading the words of God and edifying the brethren.

(3) The Church is able to uphold the continuous construction and renovation of big and magnificent houses of worship for its local congregations in various parts of the globe as well as office buildings, and other Church infrastructures. The Church has also been acquiring and converting into its houses of worship some buildings and especially places of worship sold by other religions. The Philippine Arena—the world’s biggest mixed-use indoor theater housed in the Church’s 140-hectare Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory) complex in Bocaue, Bulacan—has been used as venue of the Church’s big events and celebrations.

(4) Through its socio-civic activities (medical and dental missions, blood donations, clean-up drives, relief and rescue operations, INC Giving, Summer Pre-Kindergarten Program [SPKP], resettlement and housing projects, eco-farming programs, livelihood projects, and Gulayan sa Bakuran) and social service institutions (Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, UNLAD International, Inc., INC Social Services Office [SSO], New Era General Hospital, Christian Medical Dental and Paramedical Society, Felix Y. Manalo Puericulture, Maternity and Family Planning Center, New Era University, and Society of Communicators and Networkers or SCAN International), the Iglesia Ni Cristo has been able to provide aid to the needy and treat people—members and nonmembers alike—with compassion and love (Matt. 19:19; Gal. 6:10).

Especially through its Aid For Humanity (Lingap sa Mamamayan), the Church extends help to those in dire need like the victims of severe calamities. Many times, the Guinness Book of World records had bestowed recognition to the Church for its notable humanitarian missions.

(5) Additional multidimensional programs for faith-edification have been launched and continued through the Church’s Christian Family Organizations office (CFO). Various programs such as This is KADIWA, Binhi Summit, Buklod Night, conferences of the Christian Society for the Deaf (CSD), Christian Brotherhood International (CBI), and Christian Employees Association cater to brethren of specific categories and interests. The Songs of Faith, Love, and Hope, Band Together, and the International Piano and Voice Competitions cultivate brethren’s talent in music as they promote Christian music that inspires. The EVM Art serves as an avenue for brethren to express their faith through visual arts. The INC Unity Games and EVM Cup, which foster athletic skills, develop brotherhood and unity among brethren.

INCinema, InCenterstage, and CEBSI Films, which tap the brethren’s film making and stage play creativity, artistically instill Christian values and share the true faith. Some of the Church-produced films have received awards and recognitions from local and international award-giving bodies.

Faithful members mention these blessings of God not to blow their own trumpet, but to fulfill the Lord’s prophecy concerning them, “they will someday honor me before the whole world” (Isa. 43:21 New Living Translation). Full of love and care for the welfare of their souls, the Executive Minister reminds them that the parade of victories is not meant to make them complacent and lax but to inspire them to uphold before the world the true culture of Christianity outlined in the Holy Scriptures and never extinguish the fire of the Holy Spirit that works in them (I Thess. 5:19 Plain English Translation).

Church Of Christ members all over the world thus actively involve themselves in all Church activities like the intensive edification of all brethren and the intensive propagation of God’s words (through missionary programs like Worldwide Evangelical Missions; My Countrymen, My Brethren; Welcome, My Brethren; Evangelical Mission On Air and Online; Pasugo: God’s Message magazine distribution; sharing of articles from Pasugo.com.ph; and outreach-evangelical missions).

On the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the Church, Iglesia Ni Cristo members conduct thanksgiving to God to acknowledge that they are not only His creation but that they are also His people (Ps. 100:1-4 NIV). Above all, they thank God for the Bible’s testimony that members of “the true church of Christ” are the ones who will dwell in “the heavenly city of the living God” (Heb. 12:22-23 Remedy) to receive salvation on Judgment Day (Dan. 12:1 GNB).

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