Without knowing that man, I might be still a brawler; without knowing this preacher, I might still be a wanderer. Though before, I fist- fight only to look brave, now I fight for righteousness – not with flesh and blood, but with a spiritual warfare with the man whom I truly admired. This is the man sent by GOD.
A six-foot tall man was knocked down unconsciously with his head bleeding, his polo shirt torn and his chest bruised. He was almost half-dead when an old lady saw him and then cried for help. Two men responded and carried the tall man near the trash cans in the alley. Good thing, it was not a serious injury; the wound was then patched up by those who found him.
Who did this to you? Who is he? The rescuers asked. “It’s not a man, it’s a boy,” he replied. “He hit me with a stick and gave me a couple of punches while pulling my clothes. He got the upper hand and ran away.”
The assault was due to a dispute from a basketball, it was learned. The tall man was attacked by his schoolmate when he was off –guard; and that was to avenge his fowl and unfair style of playing. That boy or his schoolmate happened to be me!
Back then when I was 13 years old, I used to be a brawler. My neighbors, classmates, and even friends spelled my name as violent and short-tempered. Almost every day, in school or in our barangay where there was a fist fight, expect me to be there. I did not fear other brawlers who were bigger and more fit than I was for they were equaled by the buckle of my belt or any stick I could pick up every time there was a fight. I am a Caviteño; there was no need to be a coward; neither was I afraid to hurt nor be hurt.
But in spite of the hard image indelible in my friends’ mind about me, especially to my foes, my mellow side kept on bothering me. My conscience was shaking me every time I make trouble. That thought everyday made me weary, leading me to seek for peace of mind and heart. Ironically, I was consistent in attending the Catholic Church gatherings or masses, kneeling to graven images on the belief that I will be forgiven. I also used to pray the rosary even when I was still a child.
I tried to watch different religious programs in the hope of getting an answer to my prayer. I was then a barren soil seeking for water. I tried the El Shaddai of Mike Velarde, and then jumped on to Fourth Watch, Hour of Miracle and Net 25. I also went to Born- Again gatherings with my classmates in high school. But still I felt restless like a wanderer in the desert searching for an oasis of serenity. I had the desire to change but my wall of hatred had not yet been destroyed.
At the age of 15, a harsh voice on TV had caught my attention. In a program at Channel 13, I saw the man with a loud voice and I was quite interested in his mustache. He was wearing a checkered polo, similar to the person I hurt before. But what really caught my attention were the words of wisdom he was preaching. I didn’t plan to watch him but I just found myself fastened to his teachings. Sadly the program ended almost midnight.
That night I was shocked, speechless, feeling regretful of my bad attitude. At the same time, my heart was like a dry tongue sweetened by a bursting cold drink by the time I was reviewing my notes of his preaching.
A week later, the man whom I believed was sent by GOD, broadcast no more in Channel 13. I searched for him in the other TV programs but I didn’t find him. I had even mistaken his program was transferred to Channel 7 when I saw Ang Dating Doon in Babol Gang.
Oh, I see now! The man is very popular and he was copied by Isko Salvador, (a comedy script writer). Later, I discovered he had transferred to Channel 29.
From that time on, I promised myself not to lose connection with the preacher. I followed his program and I got four large notebooks filled with his lectures. Later on, I realized that what I experienced was the reality of my wish – to have a peaceful mind and heart. During that time, I preached what he preached; I even called the man my brother-in-faith. What was lacking was that listeners to whom I shared my notes asked, “What church do you belong to?”
I thought before, that I was already a member of the church he preached, known as Members Church of God International (MCGI). But I needed to undergo indoctrination to become a bonafide member. From there, I did not hesitate to call them and inquire how to start the process.
On June 26, 2000, I went searching for the local chapter that the telephone attendant told me. During that time, I was a stranger in Manila and a college student. Being unfamiliar with the place, I experienced a hard time searching for the local chapter of Quiapo. Also, it was a stormy day, but I was roaming around, searching without the aid of an umbrella and relying only on my jacket. I was about to give up and decided to continue searching the next day. But when I walked through the Lacson underpass, I got curious about what was up the stairs.
I climbed the stairs leading to Rodriguez Avenue and when I turned right, I got the surprise of my life! The signboard said, ANG DATING DAAN! I ran immediately with my socks so wet, and entered the coordinating center. A resident worker named Ezequiel accommodated me, giving me coffee because I got soaked up from the very stormy weather. They scheduled my indoctrination sessions to start July 6 of that year. First, the sound of heavy rain pounded on my beating heart, but later it became music after finding The Old Path.
July 28, 2000, I was baptized. It was one of the memorable moments in my life. Two seconds of being immersed into the water seemed to be a decade to me. I then realized my past experiences and faults and I prayed these will be buried in the water. After being immersed, I felt an unexplainable feeling and tears in my eyes blended with the drops of water of baptism.
Without knowing that man, I might be still a brawler; without knowing this preacher, I might still be a wanderer. Though before, I fist- fight only to look brave, now I fight for righteousness – not with flesh and blood, but with a spiritual warfare with the man whom I truly admired. This is the man sent by GOD, the only Sensible Preacher in our time. He who was able to destroy my wall of hatred, from the root to the top of my being, through his teachings – BRO. ELI SORIANO.