But when he answered the question shrewdly based on the Scriptures, I was deeply moved. What I felt that time was that I was quenched from thirst for that was the question that I had in mind ever since I started listening to him. Since then, something has opened my mind to the hypocrisy of other religions.
By Joy Saturno
Though my parents were not devout Catholics, at my tender age of seven, I can say that I had already been an active Catholic member.
After the killer earthquake of 1990 in Baguio City, our family moved into an apartment which was only a few houses away from the Seminary. As young as I was, I attended masses regularly and always participated in most of the church’s activities on my own volition. I say on my own volition because I need not be persuaded by anyone to go to church but on my own will I did it.
Coming from a big family, we were trained to do things on our own such as attending the Sunday mass. So, even if my parents were not coming along to mass, I dressed myself and left on my own. I remember going to Church everyday in the Lenten season and joining the processions. I even volunteered to be an angel in a play in the Easter Sunday.
Also, we had our early elementary years in a Catholic school run by nuns wherein we were taught the Catholic doctrines. As for myself, I had devotedly observed all the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic faith because I already feared God. I even dreamt of becoming a nun when I grew up because deep in my heart, what I wanted in life is to be able to serve the Almighty.
Due to financial constraints, our family transferred to my father’s hometown. Growing up, I found myself more busy studying. I was not that active on Church activities but I still attended the Saturday mass for children. My parents would take us along also to attend the Methodist Church since most of our relatives were elders here. I also experienced attending youth camps of the Baptists and Born Again Christians.
My miserable days started when I was a sophomore student in high school. My father left our family due to great humiliation from many people including his own relatives. What we knew was that he was only going to Manila to buy the needed electronic parts for his repairs. Weeks passed without us knowing that he joined a group of gold diggers. My father was made to believe that there was really gold so that he gambled the money that he got from his costumers.
Unfortunately, they did not find a single gold. Their quest ended when my uncle who my father’s brother and was with the team died in a severe heart attack. That was the only time we knew what he had done. My father didn’t come back home to us because of this.
We were left in a desolate situation. My mother, being only a housekeeper, decided to go home to her home province together with my eldest brother and two younger brothers. I, together with my two other siblings, were left in the care of our relatives although I spent most of my time staying in the school’s dormitory.
These were the times that I felt alone and empty. How I wished then that I would not have to wake up again. Whenever I saw a knife, I imagined cutting off my wrist with it. I would even ask God why that had to happen to us. But this was also the instance that I learned to seek God’s face again.
My relatives are Born Again Christians, so even if they cannot convince me with their manner of living, I had no choice but to go with them to their gatherings. Due to my longing to seek refuge in God, somehow I felt relieved after I prayed and sang praises to Him on a worship service. That was all that mattered to me that time. I felt that there was no true transformation in the behavior of my relatives due to their religion though.
Before I graduated from high school, my father strived hard to bring together our family. I was graduating from high school then so I was left behind. They lived a new life in another province. After graduation, though I had a greater opportunity to continue my studies in big institutions in great cities, I decided to be with our family though I knew pretty well that I might not be able to continue my studies.
When I went home to my family, I already sensed that something was unusual with them. Everyday before the clock turns to four in the afternoon, they would turn the TV on RPN 9 to the program “Ang Dating Daan” and watch enthusiastically. Even my thirteen-year-old brother would jot down the verses that would be read on the program.
I still didn’t know Bro. Eliseo Soriano that time so I just joined them in watching the program. My eldest brother then told me that this was the program that was spoofed in Bubble Gang as the “Ang Dating Doon.” I became interested because that comedy stint was very popular then.
As I continuously watched the program with them as I had no choice, I noticed that the host of the program was different from all the preachers that I heard of. He can answer all queries that were asked of him and he was frank and very straight forward. However, I really didn’t like his speaking in a vulgar manner especially when he uttered “gago” (fool) and “tanga” (stupid) in some instances. I was asking myself that if he is a man of God, why would he talk that way? We are accustomed to priests and pastors talking very gently to their members.
One time, someone asked Bro. Eli “Bakit po kayo nagmumura? Di po ba masama ang magmura?”(Why do you cuss? Isn’t that bad?) I was very eagerly waiting for his answer to the question. But when he responded shrewdly based on the Scriptures, I was deeply moved. What I felt that time was that I was quenched from thirst for that was the question that I had in mind ever since I started listening to him. Since then, something has opened my mind to the hypocrisy of other religions. I had been an avid listener to Bro. Eli Soriano from that time on.
We are back as a family together again but we are leaving a difficult life since my father doesn’t have a stable job. Most of the time, we are short on budget. We experienced skipping meals and walking to school without allowance. We were always shamed by the house owners whenever we couldn’t pay for the monthly rent; that was why we were constantly moving from different locations then.
Maybe through God’s providence, we were able to find a vacant house just beside the Ang Dating Daan Coordinating Center. By then on, we decided to affiliate in the Church of God without any hesitations because we know that we had found the true church that was written in the Bible. Three of my brothers are working with the church now.
Looking back, despite the hardships that we have been through, I am still grateful that these things happened to us. I know that God had been merciful to us that He called us to His church. Maybe if we had been rich and had become learned persons, we might not have sought for Him. Through God’s mercy, I can say that I found the refuge that I had long been searching for. I can clearly testify that I am now serving the true God.
I can’t imagine how lucky am I to have been chosen and regarded as a child of God. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!