In Historic Thanksgiving, Celebration Marks Bro. Eli’s 50th Year of Service to God and Humanity

April 7, 2014 – Bro. Eliseo Soriano had a historic 50th year in service celebration with Members Church of God International (MCGI) delegates from all over the world during the International Thanksgiving to God (ITG) of the first quarter this year.

“I am thanking God that in spite of all the difficulties (that) I met along the way, all the problems and preoccupations everyday, every hour, until now I am with you standing,” said the Presiding Minister in a poignant welcoming remarks.

Presiding Minister to MCGI, Bro. Eli Soriano walks along the aisle of the makeshift convention center and reveals biblical wisdom amid Latin American and Filipino delegates.
Presiding Minister to MCGI, Bro. Eli Soriano walks along the aisle of the makeshift convention center and reveals biblical wisdom amid Latin American and Filipino delegates (Photo by Richard Viray, Photoville International).

The international evangelist prayed that the brethren who attended with him may “find the grace and the favour of the Lord,” and wished for them to “remain in faith until the end.”

Thousands of Church members from various countries, wishing to meet Bro. Eli in person and celebrate his 50th year of baptism, pilgrimed to South America to offer the sacrifices of Thanksgiving to God.

For the bulk of Filipino brethren in the South American-set ITG, the gathering was a big opportunity to meet Portuguese and Spanish-speaking brethren for the first time.

Now five decades, Bro. Soriano has been preaching God’s words via different means. Starting out with a pulpit and bullhorn, the international preacher has now reached souls in six of the seven continents through 24-hour-a-day preaching over radio, television, print, satellite and the Web.

Fulfillment of A Prophecy

ITG is a quarterly event commemorated for three days with the Philippines as its long-established venue. Thus, moving the quarterly thanksgiving event to South America was the first in the history of the Church of God.

According to Bro. Eli, the historic and festive South American-hosted thanksgiving is a realization of the prophecy written in Zechariah 8:21 (And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.)

Never before has there been in the history of MCGI that pilgrims of different nationalities would come to one nation to celebrate the International Thanksgiving to God.

Previous years’ celebration in the Philippines of the ITG would only have representatives coming from the provinces and countries in Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe and North America but not from Latin American countries.

The April 5-7 in South America had allowed brethren from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Peru, and Venezuela, among other Central and South American nations to join the offering of the sacrifices of Thanksgiving.

The presence of contingent from North America and Canada also made their presence felt.

Brazilian brothers and sister, who offer their sacrifices of thanksgiving and greet Bro. Eli Soriano on his 50th year in service, fill the stage of the makeshift Convention Center setup in South America.
Brazilian brothers and sister, who offer their sacrifices of thanksgiving and greet Bro. Eli Soriano on his 50th year in service, fill the stage of the makeshift Convention Center setup in South America. (Photo by Richard Viray, Photoville International).

Rejoicing from East to West

Unsurprisingly, church members of different nationalities were overwhelmed with the experience.

“My heart was really glad!,” remarked Brazilian native, Josiane Mariano. “I felt a love so warm, and a feeling which even words cannot write,” she added. “For everything that happened— since our arrival at the venue to meeting our brethren from different parts of the world,” Mariano said that the event was very memorable.

Anna Licu, one of the Filipino delegates from Canada, shared how grateful for she is for this opportunity. “I am extremely thankful to God because I was given the chance to be with our preachers, brothers and sisters from around the world in this thanksgiving celebration,” she exclaimed.

“I am very, very happy. I just cannot really explain [what I felt for the last three days],” shared Aileen Ravalo, a Filipino representative from Australia. “It was overwhelming that despite the difference in languages, I can still see the faith the brethren has,” she added.

Meanwhile, congregants from the east of the globe also travelled to join in the celebration. The ADD Convention Center in the Philippines was also fully packed with congregants numbering about a hundred thousand attendees.

This is aside from the more than 700 MCGI chapters that were opened to accommodate more members and guests in farther provinces. Brethren from other parts of the globe also joined the revelry via Internet and satellite facilities.

Highlights of the celebration include the offering of sacrifices of thanksgiving, songs and dances of praises, and the revealing of another biblical wisdom about God’s intent of creating man through a topic prepared by Bro. Eli and MCGI’s Vice-Presiding Minister, Bro. Daniel Razon. #

(Written by Sis. Emmy Borromeo)

Newly Baptized Testimonials: March 21, 2014

Read short testimonials of faith from some of MCGI’s youngest brethren baptized on March 21, 2014 at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Sis. Herminia Rio, 54, Former Born Again, NCR

On Being Baptized
I feel good, and light. I’ve been listening [to Bro. Eli Soriano] for a long time on radio and television.

On MCGI Leaders
I hope that they continue to spread the Good News.

~o~

Sis. Roxanne Maglangit, 24, Former Catholic, Cavite Province

On Being Baptized
I’m happy; I’m super happy! I feel light inside, and I can’t explain what I feel.

My boss is a member of The Old Path [the Church of God International]. Whenever my boss went to the locale, I would go with him and I listen [to Bro. Eli Soriano].

On MCGI Leaders
Bro. Eli, Bro. Daniel, thank you so much for the good teachings that you gave us.

~o~

Sis. Lourdes Cruda, 49, Former Catholic, NCR

On Being Baptized
I felt that my sins left me, and the burden I used to feel have I already cried out. I’m so happy. I haven’t experienced this all my life. It’s like that. You can’t explain it.

I started listening to Bro. Eli [Soriano] only last year, about November. I attended the indoctrination, that’s when I really understood [the Gospel]. I felt light. The fear I used to feel is gone.

I used to have many problems, but they’re gone. It’s like I feel safe with the things I heard from the Bible. Whatever problems I may have [like] if there’s no food, it’s like you won’t always worry.

On MCGI Leaders
May they be given longer lives to lead many more who will have understanding. Like me, I was Catholic, but it’s only now that I understood everything, because that wasn’t taught in Catholicism, the Bible [I mean].

My grandparents were just always rosary, rosary. But I have never read the Bible. It’s only now that I’ve read the Tagalog Bible, because we were told to only hold the rosary.

It’s only now that I grew old that I awoke in righteousness; it’s only then that I learned the truth. I searched the Bible, and I see that he [Bro. Eli Soriano] is right. All the commandments of God really are there!

But why are these things only brought up now? Why didn’t Catholicism teach these things? So I decided that I will transfer already, because my soul is like always searching, always thirsty; I couldn’t understand, “Where is the right one?”

Your mind is confused. You’re always thinking that it’s like you’re just floating, searching for the truth.

~o~

Sis. Dolores Pablo, 62, Former Catholic, NCR

On Being Baptized
I feel happy, and light and also blessed. I feel like an important person; also, I feel free.

It was on radio, just about one month [when I started listening to Bro. Eli Soriano]. It started in February, in the middle of February. It was just one month that passed, then I decided to undergo indoctrination already.

I heard him once, then [the radio signal was lost and] I was searching for him on the radio as I was alone in our house. Then when I was working, I heard his voice again, and the signal was lost again. I didn’t know what station it was since I was from another country, from Germany.

Then I searched for [the radio signal] again, but I couldn’t find it. I kept turning the [radio dial]. One time, I searched for it again as I was feeling sad; I missed his preaching.

Then, when I [found] it, I became always happy. And I didn’t change the station ever. When I needed to turn [the radio] off, I would just pull the plug.

I would then be happy and strong whenever I worked. Radio is okay for me, since my eyes get weary with television. I’m happy though I’m alone with the dogs, and Bro. Eli only.

On MCGI Leaders
To Bro Eli and Kuya (Big Brother) Daniel, I wish to continue here, to grow in faith. May the Holy God bless us all, and may you lead many more to change lives.

~o~

Sis. Christine Piedad, 29, Former Born Again, Cavite Province

On Being Baptized
I’m happy, and the feeling is light.

When I was in the water, I was telling [a brother] that it’s like you were shaking, because when asked, you should answer honestly. So I felt like crying with my answer. Like, right now I feel like crying, because it’s a different feeling when you’re really turning back to the Lord.

I’ve been listening for almost one year through UNTV, his [Bro. Eliseo Soriano] Bible Expositions. So when I got indoctrinated, I continued with it. I already knew that I was firm in wanting to be baptized because all my questions have been answered.

Also, I am able to listen to him daily. So when I got indoctrinated, I really accepted the teachings, so I decided already [to be baptized].

On MCGI Leaders
Bro. Eli, Bro. Daniel, thanks because you became instruments of God for people to turn back to Him. I was really surprised with the Mass Baptism, because there are really many here! And the the [system] is easy. It was delightful. Thank you.

~o~

Sis. Elaine Jasmine Garcia, 15, Former KNC, Cavite Province

On Being Baptized
I’m happy because all my sins have been forgiven.

My mother and father led me here as they have long been members. I was the only one left that was not yet baptized as I was still young before.

On MCGI Leaders
Bro. Eli, Bro. Daniel, may the Lord keep you. I hope that we will get to see you in person.

~o~

Bro. Mark Alfie Dela Cruz, 21, Former Catholic, Laguna Province

On Being Baptized
I’m happy, and I feel so light. It’s like all the evil in me is gone. It’s just been three weeks since I first listened to [Bro. Eli Soriano].

On MCGI Leaders
I hope that they’ll be able to help many more people to turn back to God.

~o~

Bro. Amado Certeza, 55, Former Born Again, Bulacan Province

On Being Baptized
I feel like a child again.

I feel more comfortable now. I have been a member of many organizations; I was even a Born Again member, but when I heard Bro. Eli on radio where my listening began, I couldn’t worship anymore in the Born Again group where I attended before. I was seeing that it was wrong already from what Bro. Eli preached.

I have long been interested with questions, and the answers to the questions are given answers by the Bible. There is no interpretation. It’s really the Bible who speaks. That’s what [amazed] me.

Another thing that inspired me was that he [Bro. Eli Soriano] didn’t build his own Church, but just joined it. That’s the point that really became my [basis], because all other churches are established by men. So I got really interested with that. It’s the Lord’s will that I be baptized here.

It’s been two years that I’ve been listening [to Bro. Eli]. When I got a cellphone, I was able to watch him on television, until it was broken due to my constant watching.

Before it would last for two hours with me watching. But it’s broken now, so I was forced to buy an small transistor [radio] — the old kind, so my listening would continue. I feel like I’m hooked on listening already.

On MCGI Leaders
For Bro. Eli, may you have a longer life and good health that many more will be with us in the coming times.

~o~

Bro. Ronaldo Cayanan, 18, Former Catholic, NCR

On Being Baptized
It feels like it’s so light because all your sins are removed from your body, from your heart.

My aunt always listened to the radio. Then like coincidence, she chanced upon listening to Radyo La Verdad, so we both listened [to Bro Eli Soriano].

On MCGI Leaders
May they continue spreading the teachings of God.

~o~

Sis. Maria Teresa Cruz, 47, Former Love Flock Member, Manila

On Being Baptized
I feel good and light.

My cousin brought me here. At first, I didn’t know much yet, and I felt new to [the kind of preaching]. But when I saw it already, when I understood the teachings, I was enlightened.

On MCGI Leaders
Bro. Eli, I’m sorry at first, but now, thanks be to God that I heard you fully.

~o~

Bro. Domingo Munda Jr., 40, Former Born Again, NCR

On Being Baptized
I felt relieved, like a newborn baby. It feels comforting.

I have been to many religions, but what I experienced here is different. I have also been baptized in another religion, but I didn’t experience this kind of… It’s just really different.

I was living outside the country before, when I got invited [to attend a Church service]. I got to attend twice, but I didn’t continue anymore. They didn’t explain to me also that there was an indoctrination

Now, I have a co-worker who is also a brother in the Church. Then, I learned that there was an indoctrination, so I attended.

On MCGI Leaders
Bro. Eli, you are helping many people turn back to faith; especially those who do not know anything about faith, they gain knowledge of it.

I also thank him because if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today, and the others as well who got baptized. I pray for him; we pray for him, that he be stronger and that his life be longer that many more souls will be brought here to Apalit and be with us as believers in God.

~o~

Bro. Lloyd Macinas, 18, Former Catholic, Manila

On Being Baptized
As Bro. Eli said, it feels really light; it’s a new life.

And though you have been baptized already, you must strive to follow the Word. The “Once Saved, Always Saved” doctrine is not true. So I believe that we must work for our salvation, for eternal life; it must really be worked for.

By midnight, there’s no more television [regular programming]. So I was searching for something to watch, until I saw him [Bro. Eliseo Soriano], and heard his preaching.

He said, “This is prohibited.” I didn’t have interest in such things before, but when he said, “In the Bible, baptism is free, and also [marriage],” it got me thinking.

There really was no fee for those things. Those who do such are rendereing injustice. That’s why they earn big.

I noticed that I was also disinterested already with Catholicism, as I saw that the priests are rich. Whereas they should be following the lifestyle of Christ, a lifestyle which is not extravagant.

I’ve been listening to Bro. Eli for a long time, about one year now. When Bro. Eli invited [through television] to attend [indoctrination], to just listen, [I went].

It’s unlike in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, where they will force you until your time is wasted already in saying no. With Bro. Eli, he won’t force you. It’s you who will decide.

On MCGI Leaders
For Bro. Eli: Good work. May you continue striving, and may God lengthen your life that you may be able to save other souls.

Newly Baptized Testimonials: March 14, 2014

Read short testimonials of faith from some of MCGI’s youngest brethren baptized on March 14, 2014 at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Sis. Bernadette Razo, 27, Former Catholic, Pangasinan Province

On Being Baptized
I’m happy because I waited so long for this opportunity. I’m an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) from Jordan in the Middle East.

I knew about The Old Path through a friend. We got to chat and catch up with each other. Then, she learned that I had a problem, the kind that when you wake up, you feel hopeless.

She then said, “Try listening. It may help you.” Then when I heard Bro. Eli, it’s like I couldn’t leave him anymore.

So whenever I have time, I listen nightly and when I have vacant time during the day. With God’s help and mercy, I am able to continue till this day that I was baptized.

I’ve been [listening] since April 2013. I’ve been waiting for almost a year, so now, thanks be to God for giving me this day that I have been baptized.

On MCGI Leaders
For Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel, may they continue leading many more souls to turn back to God with His help and mercy.

I thank God that I knew Him, through their preaching of the doctrines that you would not hear from other religions. With God’s help and mercy, may I be able to continue till the end.

~o~

Bro. Ferdinand Capalad, 48, Former Catholic, Cavite Province

On Being Baptized
I’ve long been wanting to be baptized here in the Church of God, with Bro. Eli, so I’m very happy.

To tell the truth, I felt different [when I was being baptized]. I was really crying and crying, because like other people wanting to turn back to God, I want that as well.

I always seek the Lord. And it shouldn’t be when we only have many problems, but also to thank Him as well for all the blessings He gives.

May I always be able to attend gatherings despite work, to find ways to attend in Church services.

On MCGI Leaders
To Bro. Eli, I’m thankful and I pray to the Lord that, if He will, his life will be longer. If it would be okay [with God], may the days of his life be like those born in ancient times in the Bible.

But just the same, I’m thankful that I found him through always watching television. God willing, I hope to see him personally [for I’m thankful] to be with him in the Church.

Though now he’s far away, [I feel] his spirit as I watch him. He’s always in my heart as though he’s nearby.

I hope I can bring my family here into the Church of God in the coming times.

~o~

Sis. Jasmin Acuña, 70, Former Catholic, Rizal Province

On Being Baptized
I’m Jasmin Acuña. I’m a Professor Emeritus in UP. I’m a psychologist. I teach leadership, human behavior and organization.

I’ve long been searching for the true religion, because I know that Catholicism has flaws. From a historical perspective, I know that it’s really wrong.

I read from the Bible, as I study the Bible, Christ said that the Church He will build will never be destroyed. So I went to Protestantism, as I was really searching. But they were also lacking in teachings.

Then, I got sick. I got aneurism, and so I was forced to stay at home, in bed. I was lying there and I had no entertainment, so I turned to television. That’s where I found it.

I was looking for the Church of God, because what’s known is the Iglesia ni Cristo [INC], the Mormons, the Seventh-Day Adventists.

So that was my benefit for being sick: I found the true Church. I was really glad when I found it, because it wasn’t advertised; there are no churches [like the Catholics’]. You don’t know what to do. I didn’t understand then about the indoctrination.

Then, I asked my driver, Bro. Lito, as he is a member already. So that’s how I knew it. And I’m really very glad.

I’m 70 years old already, and I’ve really been searching for the true Church, because I see that there are faults [with my previous religion].

I studied three courses in divinity school. I saw the faults of Catholicism: The inquisition, there are so many.

You really know that it’s not [the true Church], but what choice do you have? That’s the religion you grew up in? And you don’t know what it is. So it’s hard. But that’s how it is.

On MCGI Leaders
At first, when I wasn’t accustomed to his way [of preaching], I was turned off. But then I would listen again, because what he says is good. So I would listen again and again.

But perhaps sometimes he gets tired, because the questions are repeated over and over again. Those who haven’t heard the answer before would ask about it again.

Perhaps it is so. But I’m thankful to God that we have a preacher like that. [Because if no one will do it] nothing will happen.

Also, may God give them more resources for [the Gospel] to spread even more. Because like this, there are many being fed, many being [helped]. So that’s my prayer.

But actually, I have no doubt that it is God who will make a way to make things happen. It’s like that.

I saw that also in my life. I got aneurism so that I could listen continually. I listened continually: morning, noon, night time, to the point that I would already memorize what he’s going to say.

~o~

Sis. Lilibeth Aquino, 43, Former Catholic, Laguna Province

On Being Baptized
Based on what I’ve learned, there are really many wrong things in religion I grew up in compared to the doctrines I studied.

I felt light; it’s like my sins were gone. The anger I felt in my heart, I felt I needed to forgive already.

My husband is already a member here. He brought me here before, but I wasn’t ready then. Now, I voluntarily approached the worker to be indoctrinated.

When he was here [in the Philippines], he really wanted me to become a member. I didn’t want to then. I said to him, “There is a tie for that, for the Lord to call me.” And now the time has come for me to be in the right path.

On MCGI Leaders
May they continue their good intention for the brethren, and for people like me who once did not know the right path to be led here.

~o~

Sis. Lorna Abille, 46, Former Catholic, Laguna Province

On Being Baptized
The Church of God is really different from all the religions I saw. I saw that this is the true one, so I decided to become a member.

It’s a different feeling; no one can explain it. It’s like one baptism whose beauty can’t be explained by anyone. It’s really sacred. If a member will really be obedient here, this is really the path to holiness.

My boss is already a member of the Church of God. He conducted Bible studies at work. And for the longest time he did so, I wanted to [really listen].

I listened, but by parts only. Until one time, perhaps it is the will of God that I be transferred to another section where I’m not too busy. That was the time that I got to listen continuously to the doctrines, and be here in the baptism.

So I said, it’s a gift from God. He said that it was also God’s will as I’ve long wanted to become a member, but there were many hindrances.

On MCGI Leaders
I thank Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel, because of them, because of the teachings they gave me, I learned goodness in all things. Everything is written in the teachings, in the doctrines that God gave them. I understand everthing, and I’m thankful. May God will that until the end, I may obey them.

~o~

Bro. Ronaldo Agabao and Sis. Pilar Bajado, 64 and 30, Former Seventh-Day Adventist and Catholic, Manila

On Being Baptized

Bro. Ronaldo: Really, really happy! I know I’ve found the truth and I know that I’ll stay in this faith, and be saved. There is no other [faith] unto salvation but this.

I used to ignore Bro. Eli. When I watched him on television, I said, “This is just a cult. This is just money-making.”

[There was someone] who addressed me “bro,” but I didn’t know that he was from The Old Path, that he is from the Church of God. I told him, “If you believe in God, this is the true religion” [referring to The Old Path].

He was surprised at me, because I ignored the show. I said, “That’s just money-making.” But for some reason, it’s like there was something that urged me to watch an [episode] of the show.

Before whenever I saw it, I would erase it [from the channel lineup], or turn off the TV. [But then], I tried listening to it one time.

My questions were the same as those asking [on television]. All were answered one by one. I was an Adventist. Then I heard Bro. Eli [expose] the teachings of Ellen G. White that are erroneous, a false prophetess’ wrong teachings.

Since then, I didn’t watch anthign else but The Old Path program. I watched only that. At night, my [TV] is turned on, and that’s where I’m tuned in.

Sis. Pilar: We watched together. One time he said, “Watch this because this is the true religion.” So I watched it.

At first, I just listened. He said, “If you have a question, it will be [answered].” Then, I have this question since I was a kid that he [Bro. Eliseo Soriano] was able to answer. That’s when I got amazed at him, and decided to become a member.

But I didn’t have time then as I worked, and my hours were fixed. Now my schedule is broken, so I could squeeze it in. Then Bro. Ronnie [Church Worker] allowed us to have a special schedule, as we could not make the Mass Indoctrination. So I became a member today.

I feel happy and blessed that I got baptized.

On MCGI Leaders

Bro. Ronaldo: If I weren’t able to watch The Old Path program, I wouldn’t have known the truth. So I’m really thankful for The Old Path and for Bro. Eli. So when I see Bro. Eli, I’m going to tell him, “I love you Bro. Eli!”

Sis. Pilar: Thank you. Thanks be to God for because of you, we found the true doctrines.

ASOP Finals Set On Historic South America-Hosted International Thanksgiving

Come April 5-7, 2014, the Members Church of God International (MCGI) will not only see in South America host its International Thanksgiving to God (ITG) for the first time, but hear new songs of praise as well.

The bi-annual A Song of Praise (ASOP) Finals is usually done a day after MCGI’s quarterly thanksgiving. This time around, the songwriting festival will coincide with the three-day ITG event as members worldwide gather in ADD Convention Centers connected via Internet and satellite.

During the last ASOP Finals in 2013, the dates of the Year-End Finals this April is shown on a big led screen at the ADD Convention Center.
During the last ASOP Finals in 2013, the dates of the Year-End Finals this April is shown on a big led screen at the ADD Convention Center.

ASOP song entries from different countries are to be presented during breaks of the ITG or “Pasalamat ng Katawan” (Thanksgiving of the Body), which will start at 5 p.m. in the Philippines and 6 a.m. in South America.

The ASOP Year-End Finals and the ITG are a few days shy of MCGI’s celebration of the Christian New Year.

MCGI follows the Hebrew calendar observed by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The religious group welcomed the first of Nisan Year 5774 at sunset of March 31, 2014.

The big LED screen at the ADD Convention Center cast a silhouette of MCGI's Teatro Kristiano dancers during the ASOP Finals in 2013.
The big LED screen at the ADD Convention Center cast a silhouette of MCGI’s Teatro Kristiano dancers during the ASOP Finals in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Frederick Alvior, PVI)

The ASOP Music Festival is MCGI’s songwriting festival that started in 2004 that encourages members to write original, perfect songs of praise to God. It branched out on television as a weekly program being aired by UNTV television channel.

Apart from the ITG and ASOP Finals, it is also Bro. Eliseo Soriano’s 50th Year celebration of service to God and humanity. The MCGI Presiding Minister will reach his 50th spiritual birthday on April 7.

Bro. Eli is the host of the Philippines’ longest-running religious program, Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path). Both the program and Bro. Eli have won multiple accolades throughout the years. Recently, the Dangal ng Bayan Awards gave Bro. Eli Soriano the Best Bible-Based Television Evangelist title.

Metal frames of MCGI's Convention Center in South America stand tall as the venue awaits completion to accommodate delegates from various countries around the globe.
Metal frames of MCGI’s Convention Center in South America stand tall as the venue awaits completion to accommodate delegates from various countries around the globe. (Photo courtesy of Joshua De Leon, PVI)

For the special event, delegates from the Philippines to London to the USA and Canada are flocking to the newly-built convention center in South America.

As MCGI Leaders Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel Razon remarked in a recent Thanksgiving service, it is the fulfillment of the prophecy written in Zech. 8:20-21 where servants of God from different countries go to one place to seek the Lord of Hosts.

(Written by Rigor Arellano)


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