What an irony! This was the particular location where I used to satisfy my lusts by the deeds of this world. I would come to this location before to gamble and to booze. But that moment I was there with a different motive: Consecration.
By Albert Soriano
One summer vacation in 1998 I went to my uncle’s fair to help in Sampaloc, Apalit, Pampanga. (I cannot recall his name now as that was 12 years ago). The fair was opening all-day until 10pm. There were many beerhouses around it. After the whole day working in the fair, at 10pm, my friends and I visited those beerhouses to booze. We would stay there until 6 0’clock in the morning. We were up all-night drowning ourselves with liquor while laughing at each other and singing on a videoke. There were G.R.O.’s sitting with us, but we are not paying them; in-fact they were paying for their own drinks.
G.R.O.’s are girls employed in the beerhouses to entertain the men drinking. We tell them that we were not paying their drinks but still they stay with us. This went on for about three weeks, my experience that reminded me of Sampaloc, Apalit Pampanga. It is where I learned to booze and spend the whole night singing until morning. But summer vacation was ending, and school days were approaching again. I had to go back to Nueva Ecija where I was studying Education course in college.
The following year, I met Arvi Bulanadi. From that time on, he became my best friend and thankfully until now our friendship continues and keeps on getting stronger. We met each other in Maestro Singers, (Maestro Singers is a chorale group in our university). We were both members of it.
We became really good friends. I was thinking at that time: nothing can put us apart. He even took me to hang-out in their house. In that way I found out that he was watching the program “Ang Dating Daan” (The Old Path). It was the first time I saw Bro. Eliseo Soriano on television. My best friend was an audience of Bro. Eli from his high school years. Through Arvi, Bro Eli was introduced to me.
I was slowly realizing who this Bro. Eli was in my friend’s life the moment he told me this: He knew a religion and he wanted to introduce it to me.
Starting his third year in high school until the time we got to know each other up to now, he is still listening to Bro. Eli. Listening for that long makes it apparent that he is certain that what he hears from Bro. Eli is the truth.
There was a time Arvi invited me to watch with him. I was hesitant, I was skeptical; “Who is this Bro. Eli for me to listen to?”“You just watch,” he said.
I complied with his commands, but I was not serious about it. While we were watching, I was keeping quiet, no response, simply sitting beside him before the television… sleeping. I would fall asleep while watching it; at that moment I found it boring. Within 10 to 15 minutes, I would suddenly fall asleep. I am a Soriano and Sorianos are everywhere. I did not give the preacher any particular interest.
September 1999, I graduated from college. The “Ang Dating Daan,” held their Bible Exposition in Central Luzon State University, my Alma mater. Bro. Eli was there. It was memorable because it was the first time I met him personally. It is also the first time I heard him preach personally. He was exposing the wrong teachings of other religions. He talked about the Catholic’s worshipping idols which practice is prohibited by God in the Bible. I can definitely tell you everything he uttered and all he said is true. That exposition amazed me; it sent shivers down my spine. Unfortunately, it did not convince me to affiliate with them. Joining “Ang Dating Daan” or Members Church of God International (MCGI) was out of my plans, and the years rolled on.
Nokia 5210, my most memorable phone was the first cell phone that I bought out of my own money. I bought it for five thousand pesos and that to me was a large amount. I only borrowed the money I used to buy it. It was only the common Nokia 5210 model but it meant precious to me. The significance why I couldn’t forget about it is that, after a week of purchasing it, it was lost!
I was very disappointed, sad, and nervous; my emotions were mixed-up. Aaaaargh!! If only I could turn back the time, I would take care of that phone. Imagine that I borrowed the money to purchase it!
I needed something to ease the pain which my mishaps made. I needed to relax from the tension that it has given me. I needed God. The only place that I remember at that moment where I could hear the word of God was in “Ang Dating Daan.” So, I decided to go to a locale and hear the preaching.
Good timing, they were having indoctrination in some far place. Thinking that anyway we were already there, instead to leaving, we did go with them. My best friend was with me at that time. We have been included with the persons which were at that moment the persons to be indoctrinated. I could not forget our first topic, “the Christian doctrine about the tongue.”
I continued attending the indoctrination until…
March 16, 2001, my best friend and I were going to Apalit. I was excited. The moment we got there, that excitement turned into surprise. I didn’t expect that after all these years that passed, I would be going back to this place. The exact location where my uncle’s fair before was deployed is the exact place where the Ang Dating Daan’s convention center is built on. I was very astonished that this is where I would be baptized that day.
What an irony! This was the particular location where I used to satisfy my lusts by the deeds of this world. I would come to this location before to gamble and to booze. But that moment I was there with a different motive: Consecration. It was intriguing that I was in the same place to do the opposite of what I was doing there before. Instead of doing the deeds of the flesh, it is being zealous towards holiness.
My life was changed. I wouldn’t be experiencing this if I didn’t know that the word of God is the best medicine to mend a heart in pain. Thank God for the person who introduced me to God. Thank God there is a Bro. Eli.
[Albert Soriano is a Church worker and College Instructor at La Verdad Christian College.]