Amidst Disasters and Political Strife: International Congregation Celebrates

This is a perfect timing for an international Congregation to give thanks after a wave of disasters and political strife struck different parts of the world.

As early as the second week of March, tens of thousands of worshippers marched to the ADD Convention Center in Pampanga, Philippines. Delegates throughout and outside the country arrived in throngs, while coordinating centers in five other continents have also readied their places to accommodate the attendees.

This first quarter thanksgiving is significant for the Congregation for many reasons.
This first quarter thanksgiving is significant for the Congregation for many reasons.

The Members Church of God International is celebrating its International Thanksgiving to God for the first quarter of this year from March 25 to 27, singing praises, offering thanksgiving, and studying of God’s word.

This first quarter thanksgiving is significant for the Congregation for many reasons. MCGI had vigorously widened its broadcast mileage in the past three months, specifically to include Bolivia, Argentina, Portugal, Uruguay, and India in its evangelization efforts. The latter two already have established coordinating centers in response to the growing number of brethren an interested people. More centers are expected to be set up soon.

Bro. Daniel Razon, vice presiding minister to MCGI, discussed a topic before the tens of thousands of congregants who attended the three-day International Thanksgiving.
Bro. Daniel Razon, vice presiding minister to MCGI, discussed a topic before the tens of thousands of congregants who attended the three-day International Thanksgiving.

The increase in membership in the West was hastened by the 24/7 broadcasts over Latin-American televisions and Bible Expositions held in various places. Inquiries about the doctrines of the Church multiplied in a few months. Bro. Eli Soriano, presiding minister to MCGI, said of this in his sermon as “quenching spiritual thirst in the West.”

Bro. Eli also thinks of these evangelization developments as the “realization of the Church’s responsibility to show and share the light and knowledge that God gave [us].” Even with persistent censures and criticisms, MCGI continues to broadcast the Gospel, and in doing so, Bro. Eli said, “We feel humbled that we have become instruments in making the truth we have learned known to every place we go.”

Bro. Eli Soriano answered a question posed by one of the guests during the International Thanksgiving service.
Bro. Eli Soriano answered a question posed by one of the guests during the International Thanksgiving service.

The continuous preaching added 4,107 new members for the first quarter. This number includes a majority of Filipinos, Papua New Guineans, Indians, Africans, and Latinos.

Another celebrated achievement of the Church is the institution of the synchronized international prayer on March 6. Members pray together in MCGI chapters worldwide at an agreed time, 10 p.m. in the Philippines via satellite and Internet facilities.

(Written by: Cecile Vizcaya)

Bolivia and Portugal Welcome MCGI Broadcasts

Members Church of God International is now broadcasting Spanish and Portuguese versions of the award-winning Ang Dating Daan in Bolivia and Portugal this month. The debut of the two language broadcasts hosted by Bro. Eli Soriano, the presiding minister to the MCGI, are latest additions to the organization’s increasing presence in South America and Europe.

Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) is the longest running religious TV program in the Philippines that in the last five years saw international expansion.

El Camino Antiguo (The Old Path) program in Bolivia is shown daily from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Universal de Television (UNITEL). After just one week of broadcast, listeners were already asking for indoctrination and religious services, according to Bro. Eli.

In Portugal, O Caminho Antigo (The Old Path) is carried by Channel Kurios TV, with schedules from Monday to Sunday, at 8:00 p.m. (20:00).

Demands for Bible studies and baptism from people in Argentina and India have increased following the inauguration of broadcasts in these nations. To respond to these needs, Bro. Daniel Razon, vice-presiding minister to MCGI, said that deployment of Church workers and translation efforts will be increased.

“We need to communicate with all kinds of people from all nations with varying languages,” said Bro. Daniel. “This is why we do all that we can to translate. So we need to move, each one of us, brothers and sisters; we have an obligation.”

The “Ang Dating Daan” or “The Old Path” is MCGI’s religious radio, TV and web program broadcasting for more than two decades now. Today, translated versions of the “Ang Dating Daan” are shown in six continents.

(Written by: Pol Arellano)

Filipino Escapes Before CTV Building Collapses in Christchurch, New Zealand

Escaping minutes before the Canterbury Television (CTV) building in Christchurch, New Zealand completely collapsed, Rosendo Ramos was able to find his way out of the debris and pull out a New Zealander to safety.

“On February 22, at about 12:50 p.m., the ground shook,” began Ramos as he told his survivor story to a UNTV reporter on its evening news program, Ito Ang Balita.

“I was on the 3rd floor of the CTV building talking with an administration staff member of Kings College language school regarding student visa,” Ramos said via a Skype interview that was aired days after at UNTV. He said that he came to New Zealand to prepare for the International English Language Testing System or IELTS when the 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the city.

Bro. Rosendo Ramos is one of the many Filipinos who survived the wrath of earthquake at Christchurch, New Zealand recently.
Bro. Rosendo Ramos is one of the many Filipinos who survived the wrath of earthquake at Christchurch, New Zealand recently.

“The administration staff member and I hid under the table. Moments later, I felt the whole fourth floor fall on the ceiling,” continued Ramos as UNTV connected him to the rest of the nation and the world via Untvweb.com.

“When I opened my eyes, it was very dark, and [the place] was full of dust; I could also inhale the asbestos. It was as if I were in a very tight coffin.”

Trapped together with Ramos at the time were about 60 to 120 people, including a group of overseas students. By the next day, police reported that there was no chance of survival and no signs of life from the CTV building where fires had burned overnight.

Using his cellphone as a flash light, Ramos struggled to find their way out. “Then, I saw a very thin streak of light; I followed it. I broke what needed to be broken, pushed wood, stones, cement.”

As soon as Ramos made his way out through a window, he took the New Zealander by the hand and got her out of the building. A police officer saw them and led them to the park nearby. An aftershock ensued and minutes later, the building collapsed completely right before their eyes.

“It was terrifying,” he said. The police officer who aided them said that it was his first time to see such a disaster like what happens in the movies.

“Thank God I escaped with only minor abrasions. I had no serious injuries,” Ramos said. “The lady greatly thanked me for saving her. But I replied, ‘No, it was the Lord who saved us. Thanks be to God!'”

Rosendo Ramos is a member of the Members Church of God International (MCGI). Last February 26, Bro. Eli Soriano, presiding minister to MCGI, said in the Church’s weekly Thanksgiving service that he was thankful to God that none of the members residing in Christchurch were harmed in the catastrophe.

Mentioning Psalms 50:23, he further urged everyone across the world connected via the Internet to give thanks for the Lord’s saving grace, and to pray for those who are still hoping for a strike of good news about their missing relatives.

To date, the death toll of the Christchurch quake is 154 with more than 240 people missing and unaccounted for. Seventy people were reported to have been rescued alive.

(Written by: Jay Arellano)

MCGI Donates 1,900 Blood Bags to Red Cross

Members Church of God International donated 1,900 blood bags to the Philippine Red Cross on March 13 this year, the group’s first simultaneous mass bloodletting for 2011.

Forty-four MCGI centers across the nation opened for the said event: seven in the National Capital Region, 18 others in Luzon, five in Visayas, and 14 in Mindanao.

This effort is just another of the many public service advocacies and commitments that MCGI, presided to by Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, are continuously doing.

MCGI held its first bloodletting drive in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Teri Quilon)
MCGI held its first bloodletting drive in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Teri Quilon)

The bloodletting drive was organized by MCGI in cooperation with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), the Kamanggagawa Foundation, and local network UNTV.

The Philippine National Red Cross is the Philippine government’s arm in sending aid to victims in disaster and conflict-stricken areas. It also provides humanitarian services, such as community health care and blood donation and distribution activities. The PNRC is the localized extension of the International Committee on the Red Cross based in Geneva, Switzerland.

MCGI received a special citation from the PNRC in 2009, naming the former as an outstanding blood donor, for giving a total of 2,689 bags of blood from January to October. Mass blood donation drives continued throughout the following year, the latest one on December 12 nationwide.

Donors underwent thorough evaluation before being allowed to donate blood. (Photo courtesy of Teri Quilon)
Donors underwent thorough evaluation before being allowed to donate blood. (Photo courtesy of Teri Quilon)

For their commitment to blood donating, MCGI leaders established an international Church agency, the Blood Donors Society. The said group organizes blood donation events and coordinates with both private and public institutions that promote the same principles as the PNRC such as awareness campaigns and volunteer searches.  Weekly, the BDS conducts bloodletting at MCGI headquarters in Pampanga.

Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon have been supporting public service activities such as blood donation drives. Their concern for the well-being of people having blood diseases and problems extended to their purchase of several dialysis machines to give treatment to people with kidney problems – for free. The machines are stationed at the ADD Infirmary in the MCGI Central Office in Pampanga.

(Written by: Cecile Vizcaya)

Worldwide Synchronized Prayers for MCGI Starts

To aid to members across six continents, MCGI uses Internet and satellite technology to bring different Church services like studying biblical topics and conducting synchronized prayer.

Beginning March 6 this year, at 10 p.m. (Philippine time), the whole congregation of the Members Church of God International will begin a worldwide synchronized prayer time with a live feed emanating from Pampanga, Philippines.

Members of the Church of God are found in all six continents.

Worship centers nationwide and overseas will participate in the ceremony through satellite or by accessing the link that the MCGI Broadcast Department provides.

Through the worldwide community prayer, Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon encourage all to live a prayerful life. “Prayer is our weapon against the evils in this world,” said Bro. Eli.

Prayer is a basic doctrine in the Members Church of God International. All Church gatherings, either spiritual or socio-civic, begin and end with prayers.

The doctrine on prayer may be heard and learned in the two-week indoctrination process. Today, a new set of indoctrination sessions starts in all Ang Dating Daan or MCGI coordinating centers nationwide; sessions begin at seven in the evening.

For more information on prayer and indoctrination, visit MCGI.org’s Q and A section for visitors.

(Written by: Cecile Vizcaya)

MCGI Servants are Finalists in Shorty’s TV & Journalist Categories

The international evangelist makes use of Twitter to reach to his followers on social media and answer their queries of faith.

Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon are both finalists for the 3rd Annual Shorty Awards for 2011. Bro. Eli made it to third place for television while Bro. Daniel earned the sixth spot for journalist. The announcement was made last February 15, this year.

The Overall Servants to Members Church of God International have been on Twitter for almost two years. Their combined followers now stand at 32, 122, increasing regularly.

The eliminations were held for more than a month, which started January 3 this year. Nominations lasted until February 11 for all 30 official categories.

Nominations were cast through the official Shorty Awards website. Voters were asked to complete a statement telling their most compelling reason for endorsing the Twitter account of their favorite nominee – in exactly or less than 119 characters (The character counter showed only 54 characters to be typed in a tweet box, since the first 65 were allotted to a template).

In an interview with Shorty Awards, Bro. Eli Soriano revealed how he makes his tweets unique and worth following – by “basing my tweets in logic and common sense with the guidance of the Word of God,” he answered.

He also hoped that someday in Twitter “truth in dissemination of information” will start trending, and that people will use it more often “to find avenues of understanding and connections for a swift delivery of messages beneficial to everyone.”

In the same interview, Bro. Eli said he refuses to shorten words and phrases that refer to God and His name, even famous quotes from respected historical personages.

For him, Twitterific on his iPhone is his favorite Twitter application.

Finally, he advised Twitter newbies to “be as truthful and humane in using Twitter, as almost all venues of human communications are corrupted by lies and deceit.”

Meanwhile, Bro. Daniel Razon in the Shorty Awards interview urged people to check out and follow his account through a verse: “Try to follow me and there you will see, how I compose my tweets and how unique [they] can be.”

As a broadcast journalist by profession, Bro. Daniel uses Twitter to share wisdom, information, knowledge, issues, news, and views. The preacher also answered in the same interview that he is actually not inclined to shorten any word of his tweets, and he maximizes the characters allotted for each.

Furthermore, when he tweets, Bro. Daniel thinks of connecting with the people who look at his tweets in the right perspective. As a public servant by heart, Bro. Daniel imparts not only “a mind that thinks” but also “a heart that cares and a spirit that says there is much to share.”

He advised Twitter newcomers to “make use of the space worth following, as each tweet we make reveals the kind of character we have.”

The Shorty Awards is deemed as the “Oscars of Twitter”, and gives due recognition to people and organizations who produce the best short and real-time content on Twitter and social media.

The Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts and Sciences will determine from among the finalists who will crop awards. The awarding ceremonies will be held at the Times Center in New York City on March 28.

(Written by: Cecile Vizcaya)


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