The vital role of the Church Administration in these trying times
Fulfilling his God-given mandate to watch over the souls of the believers (Heb. 13:17), the Executive Minister endeavors to help the Church members overcome all their trials and be brought closer to God and His blessings—the greatest of which is the attainment of eternal life.
By JENSEN DG. MAÑEBOG
THE YEAR that eventually turned out to be a bleak one was just commencing when God had already prepared His nation for unusual predicaments through the man whose authority is surely from Him.
On January 28 of the year 2020—when the now popular coronavirus disease had not yet gotten its own official name Covid-19 (history.com)—Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, called for a conference of all ministers and ministerial workers around the globe. Through videoconferencing, he exhorted them to painstakingly teach the brethren how to deal with life’s troubles, as if alarming things were about to transpire.
And just about six weeks after, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic (history.com), and its domino effects soon followed: government-imposed stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, mass layoffs, and global recession, not to mention deaths and cases of depressions.
Many religions consequently ceased operations, but the Iglesia Ni Cristo has continued its active services and worship of the Lord. These series of events highlight the magnitude of the roles carried out by the Church Administration in the lives of God’s people.
Preparing the faithful
During the conference, the Executive Minister gave urgent instruction to hold special gatherings of Christian households. He personally taught the biblical lesson to be delivered in the gatherings.
The lesson conveyed God’s comforting words encouraging the believers to brace themselves—not to be afraid but rather have faith that they will overcome severe difficulties by sincerely seeking God’s help through humble supplications.
It also taught that coping with perilous times involves fervently serving God with all their heart, mind, and soul (I Chr. 28:9) so that when they ask Him for help, they will receive His answer. Church members, the lesson emphasized, ought to “use more effort to make God’s calling and choosing of [them] secure” (II Pet. 1:10 God’s Word).
The Executive Minister reminded that one of God’s commands that Christian families should put more effort in fulfilling is their worship of Him (Heb. 10:25), no matter what their condition in life is. In so doing, he affirmed that they are also able to seek His guidance in dealing with worries in life, as “worship opens doors to all [God’s] goodness” (Ps. 34:9 The Message).
Household worship service
Even while observing the government-enforced disease control guidelines, Church Of Christ members have continued to uphold their worship services to God. Members who cannot congregate at houses of worship for the time being follow the Church Administration’s instruction that they conduct worship services in their homes.
Providentially, the household special gatherings which the Executive Minister instructed Christian families to hold even before the pandemic served as a precursor of this worship gathering.
During the household worship services, the head of the family reads the Bible-based messages they receive from the Church Administration. The messages containing God’s teachings intend to safeguard the brethren’s spiritual welfare, inspiring them to be firm in faith and be filled with hope in what God can do for them, especially in the time of crisis.
There are also hymn-singing, prayers, and giving of offerings just like in congregational worship services done inside houses of worship
(I Cor. 14:15, 26). Church members fully believe the Lord Jesus Christ’s promise that when two or more of them gather together in His name, He is there among them (Matt. 18:20) by means of His Spirit, which strengthen their spiritual lives (Gal. 4:6).
Livestreaming worship service
The livestreaming of worship services, which started to be implemented by the Church Administration years earlier, is another reason Iglesia Ni Cristo members have been able to fulfill their primary duty to worship God even during the pandemic.
In this mode, a minister or ministerial worker leads the congregational prayer and teaches God’s words from a house of worship or chapel, while the brethren attending are in different sites, like in the confines of their own homes.
The livestreaming worship services administered by the Iglesia Ni Cristo Central Office are usually streamed from the chapels housed in the Pilar Manalo-Danao Multimedia Center (PMD) building in the INC Central Office complex in Quezon City. Hundreds of remote sites from many ecclesiastical districts outside the Philippines connect for livestreaming worship services which are conducted in various languages.
The livestreaming worship service was launched by Brother Eduardo Manalo in 2014, years before the pandemic started. He himself regularly officiates livestream worship services through which he is also able to reach out to the brethren even if they are in different countries and time zones.
Successfully spreading the gospel
Through means in consonance with health safety protocols, the Church Administration has steadily pursued its mission to spread the gospel of salvation (Mark 16:15–16). Through mass media and social media, it continues to broadcast the Church’s radio and television programs and the members share the links of online evangelical programs to their friends and acquaintances.
With God’s help, these result in many new converts being added to the Church through regular baptisms held around the world, while observing health protocols.
More Church officers and workers for the Lord’s harvest field
Through the able leadership of the Executive Minister, there has been a constant increase of 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 21 extensions (14 in the Philippines and 7 abroad), the Church Administration continues to produce many ministerial workers who are assigned to different parts of the world to help in spreading God’s words and edifying the brethren.
From January 2020 to September this year alone, a total of 206 new ministers were ordained and 1,920 took their oath as regular ministerial workers.
Edifying the faith of Christian families
Multidimensional programs for faith-edification have been launched and continued through the Christian Family Organizations (CFO). Mainly conducted online for the moment, programs such as This Is KADIWA, Binhi Friendship Day, Buklod Night, Christian Society for the Deaf (CSD) conferences, and Christian Employees Association (CEA) meetings continue to cater to brethren of specific categories.
Through Songs of Faith, Love, and Hope, INC Unity Games, INCinema, and CEBSI Films, the Church Administration continues to cultivate brethren’s talents and instill Christian values.
The Church also launched timely activities like webinars discussing tips to cope with stress and livelihood opportunities to help those whose jobs were affected by the pandemic.
Constructing houses of worship and other edifices
Complying with government-imposed work and health protocols, the Church Administration has not been hindered by the pandemic from constructing and renovating houses of worship, office buildings, and other Church infrastructures.
The Church also procures worship edifices being sold by other religions and converts them into suitable Iglesia Ni Cristo places of worship. During the pandemic, its recent acquisition is the more-than-a-century-old former St. James Anglican chapel in Neepawa, Canada, which it formally acquired on February 12, 2021. And even in far flung areas, the Church builds chapels where the faithful conduct their services to God.
From 2020 up to September 2021, the Church has built and renovated 185 houses of worship. This is in obedience to His command to “build [His] house, so that [He] may take pleasure in it and be honored” (Hag. 1:8 New International Version).
Providing aid to those in need
The Church Administration perpetually pursues its charitable missions in obedience to God’s will to provide aid to those in need and treat people—members and nonmembers alike—with compassion and love (Mat. 19:19; Gal. 6:10).
When the pandemic struck, the Church Administration immediately mobilized the concerned ecclesiastical districts to tender support to the affected brethren. Through its Lingap sa Mamamayan (Aid to Humanity), INC Cares, and INC Giving projects, the Church has been distributing goods, food, care packages, including personal protective equipment to frontliners and households in various countries—even to nonmembers.
Food packs, health care, and cash donations have also been given to some local governments, public schools, nursing homes, and elderly facilities.
On Brother Eduardo Manalo’s birthday on October 31, 2020, the Church conducted the Worldwide Aid to Humanity to help relieve the plight of people affected by the pandemic.
Through the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, the Church also punctually responds to calamity victims such as those affected by typhoons and the recent eruptions of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines.
To help create livelihood opportunities, the Church Administration establishes self-sustainable means of livelihood, such as its eco-farms in various places like Africa. In 2020, it established its first eco-farm in the USA in Shoshoni, Wyoming.
The Executive Minister has also allowed the Ciudad de Victoria Complex in the Philippines to be used as a mega-quarantine facility housing Covid-19 patients and healthcare workers. The Church has kept open the gates of the New Era General Hospital even for nonmembers. The hospitals’ own Molecular Laboratory opened on March 5, 2021, enabling it to get faster results of swab tests.
Fulfilling his God-given mandate to watch over the souls of the believers (Heb. 13:17), the Executive Minister prays for Church members to overcome all their trials and be brought closer to God and His blessings—the greatest of which is the attainment of eternal life.
On his birthday on October 31, we, Iglesia Ni Cristo members, pray that God may always provide him with long life, exceptional wisdom, and good health for the sake of God’s nation in these last days.
We also promise to bring spiritual joy to him—not only on his natal day but also every day—by living as true Christians should. As Apostle Paul stated, “I am very happy because you are living as you should and because of your strong faith in Christ” (Col. 2:5 New Living Translation).
When we abide by God’s teachings, which we learn from the Church Administration, not only do we bring spiritual joy to the Executive Minister; most of all, we please and glorify the Lord God. As the Apostle Paul stated:
“Finally, our brothers, you learned from us how you should live in order to please God. This is, of course, the way you have been living. And now we beg and urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to do even more. For you know the instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” (I Thess. 4:1–2 Good News Bible)