I was really shocked. It had been long time that I had been looking for someone to assist me to the coordinating centers. It took a stranger, an old man, for me to be able to reach the locale, and here the officers of the locale were just my neighbors!
By Marie Antonette Calvez
I used to study late at night when I was in high school. One day, my parents turned on the TV on Channel 13. I heard Bro. Eliseo Soriano saying “Tarantadong mga pastor! Kagagohan yan! Niloloko lang kayo mga kababayang Pilipino!” (Foolish pastors! That’s foolishness! You are just being deceived, my countrymen!). At first I thought it was only a comedy show, and I laughed as he demonstrated and mimicked the ways the religious leaders preach on stage. I never thought that it was a religious program because it was my first time to watch such. I used to laugh with him not because I am disgusted with those acts he was demonstrating, but because I know he is simply telling the truth.
Another night came, when my mom turned the TV on Channel 29. Again I saw Bro. Eli and at this time his words caught my attention. He was discussing the relationship of the Bible and science (the subject I love most.) “The Bible and Science do not contradict each other. Science proves the authenticity of the Bible.” When I heard those words, I stopped from doing my homework that night and started to listen to him until the program ended. I was amazed how he laid the foundation and basis of his statement. I was fascinated on how he elaborated different scientific facts that were already written in the Bible long time ago. It was a great thing for me to know that the Bible and Science were not in contradiction as was thought of in school.
Since then, I would watch Ang Dating Daan every night on RJTV 29 and by the time I am sleepy, the music of its OBB (which is “Somewhere in Time”) keeps on playing in my ears. Every time it happened, I turn on the TV to the program, and that’s why I never forget to watch it. Suddenly, I found out that it was not in RJTV 29 anymore.
Two years had passed. One day, I went to visit one of my best friends near Pinagbarilan, Tramo, and Pasay City. Near his place, I saw a sign board and written on it was “Ang Dating Daan”. I just found myself moving to the place. It was perhaps a motor shop, because of the oil leaks on its floor. Then I asked the lady I saw inside if I could inquire regarding “Ang Dating Daan;” I asked her too if she is a member. She said she is not, but her father is. She offered me a seat as she called on her father. After a few minutes, I saw an old, fat man. He had some difficulty in walking so I approached him. I asked him how to become a member of “Ang Dating Daan.” He said there will be a worker that will be conducting indoctrination at their home on Monday next week.
I came that day but those who were supposed to be with me in the indoctrination did not come. The worker then decided to bring me to the Locale of Baclaran to be included in a mass indoctrination since I was the only one who showed up from that supposed class.
When I came to the locale, a man who is quite familiar to me approached and asked me “Anak ka ba ni Malou?” and I said “Opo.” My mom grew up there in our place and I looked like her when she was my age. He introduced himself as Bro. Jose and he was the Locale President then.
He told me that he was a former classmate of my mother when they were in high school and he was living just a few blocks away from our house in H. Domingo. He also introduced me to Sis. Melinda, the Locale Secretary, who happened to be living in the same street. I was really shocked. It had been long time I was looking for somebody to assist me to the coordinating centers. It took a stranger, an old man, for me to be able to reach the locale, and here the officers of the locale were just my neighbors.
I started attending the indoctrination sessions and I was able to complete it. The day of my baptism came. It was November 3, 2000 but there was a strong storm that hit the Luzon Region at Friday dawn. The storm was so strong that the roofs of some houses were torn apart. My mother did not allow me to attend the baptism because she was afraid something might happen to us on our way as very strong winds came that day. I really cried hard, as if I was going to die.
I came out of our house, and went to Sis. Melinda’s house. The worker assigned in the indoctrination last night, Sis. Beth Tablada was sleeping there. I asked her if I could come even if my mother is not allowing me to go. She said yes, but she’s afraid that if I go, as I was only 16 years old then, my mother might sue them if I insisted. She did not allow me to come with them.
My shoulders shook greatly as I cried walking back home. It was the coldest, darkest dawn that I ever felt. The rain that touched my skin was like thorns hurting my heart. As I walked alone against the flood, I was asking God, “May I be baptized in this flood water? Please let it be so.” I went back home and did not go out of our room. I did not eat nor drink that day. I was just crying inside our room and asking Him not to take me yet because I was not yet baptized. I really felt very sorry for myself as if there would be no tomorrow. I was just lying on floor, hugging my Bible as I fell asleep because of crying all day.
On Saturday morning, my mother woke me up and said Bro. Jose was waiting for me at the living room downstairs. I immediately combed my hair and fixed myself to attend to him. I was very glad when he said that I could come tomorrow, Sunday, to be baptized. I was very happy that day. My father brought me to the locale because the other baptism candidates would be gathering there before travelling to Apalit.
November 5, 2000, Sunday, was a thanksgiving day of the Members Church of God International (MCGI). When I arrived, I found out that I was not alone who was not baptized last Friday. We are many who will be undergoing baptism that day. During the baptism sessions, we were told not to talk much and have time for reflection. We were also told not to eat if we can until we are baptized, and I did just that. I was so happy that day, and excited, that I even asked my father to take a walk with me around the convention center. I ate a lot that day because of happiness. I was thinking that I did not have to cry that day because I already did so since Friday dawn to Saturday morning. It was time for me to be grateful.
As I walked near the baptistery, I felt the coldness under my feet that I started to tremble. I just couldn’t explain how I felt that moment. As they assisted me to the baptizer, Sis. Baby de Jesus, I felt excitement inside of me, as if I would be graduating with the highest honor. When I got near her, she asked me how old I was, and I said “Sixteen po.” She asked me if I really wanted to continue in baptism. I answered, “Opo; andyan nga din po ang tatay ko, sinamahan po ako” (Yes; my father is here too. I came with him) to assure her that I’ll be ok and everything will be fine.
When she immersed me in the water, I slipped that I almost lay underneath. I didn’t know how to swim but I felt that I floated. I opened my eyes underwater and saw the light shining against the water above me. It’s the lightest feeling that I have felt in all my life. I knew that was just a few seconds but it seemed like it took much longer. Then I thought maybe that was how a baby felt when he is about to be born out of his mother’s womb. As Sis. Baby helped me go up out of the water, I cried as I walked out from the pool.
November 5, 2000, Sunday at 3:47 pm, was the day and time when I was baptized, the happiest day of my life. A new heart full of hope and life was born because I know that better days will come. This is along the way with Jesus as I live inside His church – the Church of God.