Last Sunday, my wife came home visibly upset after performing her usual duty of counting offerings. I found out later on that while counting was going on, one of the head deacons came into the Finance office, got everyone’s attention, and started harping about coffee table books and other UNLAD memorabilia, how only a few signed up for them when all officers are required to buy them. The Resident Minister came up next, angry that not all Pasugo magazines have been sold and castigated the Finance officers for not doing a good job of selling them! All these while counting was going on.
What has happened to us? Are we so desperate for cash that we have turned the house of God into a marketplace? I thought commerce was forbidden inside Church compounds and yet here we are, while officers are still performing, merchandise is being sold, or more accurately, being forced upon them by no less than the Locale Leadership!
I love my wife. I don’t like seeing her unhappy especially after performing her duties. She didn’t used to be this way. Gone is her usual bounciness, replaced by quiet introspection and reclusiveness. She tries to shield me from what she thinks may harm my faith, perhaps because she’s afraid that, as a non‑Filipino convert, my faith may not be strong enough to withstand the profound internal issues that now confront the Church. But as I carefully listen to what she’s not able to tell me, I hurt for her even more. What burden my poor wife must carry, trying to spare me from the wickedness that has befallen the Church! She doesn’t know I am tougher than I look. I am neither blind nor deaf, you see. And even in my advanced age, I can see that the Church I joined many years ago is very much different from the Church of today…
I joined the INC under the patient tutelage of, in my opinion, one of the best ministers our school has ever produced -- a young worker at that time, now an older, seasoned minister. He encouraged critical thinking, urged me to ask questions and challenge the Church’s teachings. At times, we debated, argued, temper would flare (admittedly, just my own) and on occasion, I would walk out. Always though, after I had cooled off, reason and logic would prevail and I would return to our studies. As I progressed in my spiritual journey, my faith grew and a friendship was forged with this worker, whose integrity, intelligence, and calm disposition I came to admire and respect. We’ve stayed in touch after I was baptized and he’s moved on to his subsequent assignments.
I remember him now because, to me, he represents everything that was good in the Church. I am sure there are more ministers like him still around, but they seem to be a dying breed. Materialism and greed have seeped in to the ministry. Ministers are lured by power and all the perks that go along with a lofty title. Once seated in a position of power, they will do just about anything to hold on to it.
In the Church, money changes hands all the time, usually, in return for personal favors. It’s no longer a question of whether ministers can be bought, it’s a question of “How much?”. Almost everyone these days has a price. It seems the higher up the ladder one is, the higher the “rate” becomes, hence feeding the desire for a higher office.
In recent years, the Church has undergone an abrupt change in character and culture. These are among the changes I’ve oberved:
1. While we continue to build and buy houses of worship, unbeknownst to the brethren, we’ve also started to sell some of them. Even when evidence stares us right in the face, we still deny our actions.
2. We’ve also started to engage in commerce and diverted Church funds in pursuit of seemingly lucrative investments, some turning out to be risky ventures. In this regard, we’ve become like the Mormons, except, they are more adept than us at investing and in managing their investments long term.
Neophyte at the game, we tend to take a more cavalier approach to investing, not really thinking things through enough before we act. Worse, it appears we spend more time thinking about how we can conceal our actions from the brethren, or the reason for those actions, while we come up with justification for diverting funds meant for building houses of worship.
3. Our new method of propagation has provoked ire among the masses. It appears that whatever blowback we got from the media, we deserved. In our desire to increase our numbers (remember the “Double the Serial Number” campaign?), we’ve resorted to what can only be described as “bribery”.
While giving out bags of goodies in exchange for attendance at our evangelical missions may be OK to do in poor countries such as the Philippines, it is insulting to do in countries with more advanced economies. But even in poverty‑stricken areas in the Philippines, from what I hear, and contrary to what was officially reported, our overt acts of generosity did not produce massive numbers of TRUE AND FAITHFUL converts.
4. And just when you think it is impossible to sink any lower, we’ve developed a nauseating obsession for the Guinness book of records. We’ve shamelessly used medical/dental missions and other seemingly community‑oriented activities to call attention to ourselves, all to gain the praise of men!
5. We’ve built an arena in the Philippines, one so grand, in fact, the largest of its kind in the world, supposedly for God’s glory. But less than a year after such display of extravagance, it appears we don’t have a viable plan for maintaining that monstrosity on our own. In a pitiful attempt to generate much‑needed revenue to cover the staggering maintenance cost, we now host events that compromise our Christian principles.
6. In the meantime, the Executive Minister appears to spend a lot of time abroad. Much to our initial delight, he has taken the time to visit congregations outside the Philippines — places his father and our former Executive Minister, perhaps due to his failing health, was not able to go to.
Ironically, while he’s shaken hands and exchanged pleasantries with the brethren during these pastoral visits and during Balikbayan Day at the Central Office, in truth, the Executive Minister has become UNREACHABLE to ordinary members.
It appears, his council of ministers has done a great job of insulating him from life’s harsher realities. They bring him one good news after another while secretly conspiring to hide from him the cancer that continues to grow and destroy the Church. Perched high above the skies, from his ivory tower, he has lost touch with reality. He only believes what he is told by his trusted advisors to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. This, I believe, is the major pitfall of the current administration.
Alas, the brethren have taken their sentiment to the social media, Not an ideal medium for airing one’s grievances and certainly unconventional for a very private organization such as ours. But what choice did the brethren really have?
Sadly, in spite of all these and the brethren’s desperate cry to reach THE UNREACHABLE Executive Minister, the only response from him thus far has been a deafening silence and threats of expulsion from those in his council.
My heart aches as I write this, Brother. I observe these things but I am helpless to do anything about them except to hold a nightly devotional prayer in silent unity with you and the others.
I shed tears of sadness as I long for the Church of old. The one my wife introduced me to. A Church so pure and unadulterated. The Church I did not immediately accept but took the pains to understand. The Church that I have eventually grown to love with all my heart and promised to serve until death.
What has happened to that Church? What has happened to us?
Yours in Christ,
A non‑Filipino brother in anguish
I can only imagine how hard it must be for you and your wife to go through all these, and the way I see it, your wife’s approach in dealing with the situation is to shut everything out in her hopes that it would not affect you and your faith.
My advice is for you and your wife to have a heart-to-heart talk about the situation and your observations and talk it out on how you can go through this together.
Reassure her that you did not join the Church because of her or any other reason, but because you were “called” into the Church by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, no amount of worldly errors can take you away from our Lord God and His chosen people.
What you and all the other brethren in the world are experiencing right now is probably the biggest and greatest test of our faith. God allowed us to go through this test, not because He does not love us, or because He has forsaken the Church, but because Judgment Day is upon us. Our salvation is almost in our hands and it will only be the REAL FAITHFUL ONES who will be worthy of salvation. This is the cleansing process God has designed to separate the worldly brethren from the TRUE BRETHREN. If we do not guard our hearts, we will either weaken or be led astray to join the wicked and the sinners. Let this TEST of FAITH be OUR LASTING STAND ON THE SIDE OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. IT IS ONE BATTLE WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE. SO BE EVER PRAYERFUL, BE STEADFAST AND VIGILANT, AND ALWAYS OBEY THE TRUE HOLY WORDS OF GOD. LET THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDE US AND PROTECT US AS WE FIGHT THE GREATEST FIGHT OF OUR LIVES. MAY WE ALL SURVIVE THIS AND COME OUT AS VICTORS IN THE TEST OF OUR FAITH. IN THE END, THE WICKED SHALL BE REVEALED AND THEY WILL PERISH… WITHER…. AND DIE….
God Bless you and your entire family, brother.
Your Brother in the Lord,
“They tried to bury us…they didn’t know we were seeds”
Official Website: http://www.iglesianicristosilentnomore.org
Email: [email protected]
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“Unlike you, I don’t have power or money, but what I do have is a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you tell the truth now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will expose you.” - AE