Certain incidents made me question the ways of the people who I thought were Godly. Until I grew up and had kids, those questions lingered, but they did not give me a sense of urgency to find the answers.
By Gladys Laciste
When I was in my teens, I was an active catholic. I made sure that I was involved in church activities and that I knew most of the people who were there: priests, youth group members, etc. However, certain incidents made me question the ways of the people who I thought were Godly. Until I grew up and had kids, those questions lingered, but they did not give me a sense of urgency to find the answers.
Sometime in 2009, I came across a book called “A Purpose-Driven Life” and, fueled by a need to change my ways, I read it and followed its instructions really well. However, when it got to the chapter that instructs me to find a ministry to join, I stopped reading. I am not satisfied with the church I belong to and I am quite skeptical about the others. I thought, if I can find someone who can make science and religion meet in harmony, I would be truly impressed. If that someone had a church or group, I would willingly join them.
I had a good-paying job, great friends, a popular status, good looks, I had everything…or so I thought. It wasn’t long until all these things started to come crashing down on me. I lost my job, my friends moved on to more party-capable friends, and I became a Nobody. My children and I had nothing. It was this lowest point in my life that I remembered my search for someone or something that could bring me closer to God in a way that would not spark any questions. I tried to pray the rosary, but the pictures on the mysteries pamphlet kept distracting me and I can’t seem to hold the right bead every time. So I thought, forget it.
To distract myself from the dark ages of my so-called life, I got back to smoking and I drowned myself in pointless posts in social networks. I added all my former classmates from way back in primary school. One of them chatted with me and it was quite entertaining just talking about how our teacher would throw the “puto” she sells at us and that whoever gets hit would have to pay for it the next day. It was an effective, yet utterly unethical marketing strategy indeed. Suddenly, my former classmate started talking about his religion and the group he belongs to. The die-hard catholic in me sprung to action and became very defensive. I told him that we should never talk about religion because I would never convert. He agreed and we started to talk about other things.
One time, he asked me to visit a website because they were conducting a survey about how effective their site is. So I went to the untvweb.com site and when I saw that it was related to his religious group, I quickly closed it and told him that I have seen it. Days passed by without a message from my former classmate, so I figured maybe he gave up on trying to recruit me. As I was browsing through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a video that he posted. It was a rap song dedicated to a certain Eli Soriano. I commented saying that it is better to write the song for God, not for their leader. We kind of debated a little, until he told me to take time to watch and listen. He lent me a CD of Brother Eli’s debate against a Born Again pastor. Surprisingly, I enjoyed every minute of it! I mean, aside from the fact that I love to debate, I admired how different he was in conveying the messages in the bible. I saw verses that I have never, ever read or heard in the two decades of my life as a catholic.
Then I watched another CD wherein Brother Eli was explaining how scientific the bible is. I thought to myself, this is it…the answer to my quest for someone to unite science and religion is right in front of me. After watching it, I was amazed. How could someone who looks so ordinary be so extraordinarily intellectual and full of sense when it comes to the Bible? I immediately reported back to my former classmate and thanked him for not giving up on me.
We kept in touch and soon afterwards, he invited me to attend worship service with him. I hesitated a little because I imagined a lot of hand-waving with eyes closed and endless hallelujahs, just like how the Born Again would spend their time in gatherings. I don’t know what it is that pushed me, but I said yes. In the coordinating center, I was told to just sit no matter what they do. During the prayer, I felt a lump in my throat. I have never heard such sincere prayers. It really hit me straight in the heart. I wanted to cry. Despite that unforgettable experience, I still was not completely convinced. So I attended another worship service and the same thing happened. This time, I let my emotions get the better of me. I cried my heart out.
The Monday after that, my former classmate and I chatted once again, as we always did. He told me that there was a scheduled indoctrination session that afternoon and told me that if I wanted to attend, he would accompany me. I refused and told him maybe I would go next time. I went to untvweb.com and a video was playing. It showed Brother Eli saying “Ngayong nakasumpong ka ng mabuti, wag kang magpatumpik-tumpik, wag kang magpadelay-delay, wag kang magpabukas-bukas. Pagkakasumpong mo ng mabuti gawin mo agad.” I suddenly felt a sense of urgency unlike anything I have felt before. I looked at the clock, there was still 30 minutes before the indoctrination would start. I quickly messaged my former classmate and told him to meet me immediately. I believe that it was God moving through me because everything in the doctrine was so easy for me to accept and do. In fact, I was excited to wear modest clothes and I didn’t have a hard time getting rid of my vices. It was like a power switch was turned off and I didn’t crave for another cancer stick ever again.
Until today, I get teary-eyed when I think of how blessed I am to have come to know about the truth in the bible. I am forever grateful to God for calling me into his church and for giving me the opportunity to listen to His loyal servants, Brother Eli and Brother Daniel.