I started to attend gatherings and one thing, I contributed to the offering. I was not a member yet. After the gathering, Sister Lucia, the local treasurer approached me and told me, they cannot accept my contribution. I said it was not that much. She said they really couldn’t accept it, and she handed me the collection box for me to get the money I contributed.
Bro. Efren Baquing
I was born on August 18, 1960 in Bacolor, Pampanga to Guillermo and Virginia Baquing. We are seven siblings and I am the fifth. I had no interest in studying then. What I wanted was to play at all times. But when I was a child, I dreamed to be a soldier because during those times, our place was a camp of the HUKBALAHAP and NPA’s often roamed around. Sometimes, they slept and ate on our house. Even their commanders would dropped by our house.
But how did my wife and I get to know each other? I was going to Manila, and I was at the Angeles Bus Station. We were in the same line of passengers, and I was next to her in the line. I liked her an d so I teased her. She got mad! When we got on the bus, it was overloaded with people. She had no choice but to sit beside me. Right there and then, I got her address and telephone number. After a few days, I visited the address to make sure that she really lived there. And there she was. From then on, I started courting her and it took sometime before we got engaged. We got married on April 18, 1980. One thing I am most thankful of is that I have a wife who is a gift from God and who has never been a hindrance to my duty. She is very kind and very supportive to me.
How did I learn the righteousness of God? I was on my way, to my work in Makati. The brother-in-law of my wife, Brother Badoc, invited me for a ride in his car to save money. I thought we were going straight to Manila but later on I found out that we had to drop by a locale in a mountain at Balas Tisyo, Magalang, Pampanga. I found out that there was an ongoing Church gathering. It was 3:00 p.m. Sunday. Oh my! I didn’t know what to do! I had no choice but to listen to the topic being tackled. The worker then was Bro. Mario Yutuc. I was struck by the theme. I was silent. After the gathering, we moved on. Without me knowing it, we still have to drop by in Apalit! There, we were fed with fish cooked in coconut milk. It was cooked by Bro. Eli Soriano! I told myself, “So he is the one they call Bro. Eli!” It was my first time to see him. His hair was a bit in disarray because he had just finished cooking our food.
Upon arrival in Manila, my wife’s brother-in-law told me to listen to him first before we could proceed. Bro. Eli was engaged in a discussion then with so many pastors in DZBB, in the radio program “Don Manolo and his Genius Family.” I was amazed with what I heard. The program ended at 12 midnight! I was not able to go to work anymore! We went back again to Apalit. You know where we slept? We couldn’t drive anymore so we just slept in the car!
The next morning when I woke up, I saw Bro. Eli looking at us! And he was very angry! He was scolding Brother Boy Dimalanta. He asked him why they did not let us in. We were not even given a blanket. I saw how concerned he was. I didn’t go to work anymore. For a week, I kept on looking for the church’s local chapter. I started to attend gatherings and one thing, I contributed to the offering. I was not a member yet. After the gathering, Sister Lucia, the local treasurer approached me and told me, they cannot accept my contribution. I said it was not that much. She said they really couldn’t accept it, and she handed me the collection box for me to get the money I contributed. She told me, “If you like, you save your money. Once you get baptized, that’s the time you can contribute.” I told myself, “Why is it like that?” So, I started examining their doctrines. After sometime, I decided to join the Church of God.
I was indoctrinated by Brother Candong in October 1982. I was the first one whom he indoctrinated and with God’s mercy, I was baptized on November 17, 1982. Year 1983, I was living in Apalit already and I was in masonry. I attended ministerial classes. However, since I was still new, I just slept in ministerial classes. I told myself, “Well, perhaps God hasn’t willed it yet.” But I told myself, I would join the Workers Ministry once my wife gets converted. She was baptized in 1986.
After sometime, I joined the workers’ ministry. On my first attendance, Brother Boy told me, “Hey, you ought to be given an assignment now!” I said, “No! This is just my first time to attend!” But we lack workers,” he said. My first assignment was in Talimundok, Magalang, as a half-timer to Brother Rudy Alamares. Starting as a worker, I was often with Bro. Lito Quizon. We lived in the house of Brother Candong. We conducted public meetings and indoctrinations then. When I was starting as a worker, I was always with Brother Lito Quizon. We lived in the house of Bro. Candong. We conducted public meetings and indoctrinations then. At dawn, we sold galunggong ang if some remained unsold, we made them “tinapa” or smoked fish. At noon, we sold tinapa, and in the evening we conducted public meetings again and indoctrinations. For a long time we did like that.
Like the others, I also encountered so many obstacles in life. First and foremost, I was very sickly. In fact, the doctor had already set limit to my existence. With God’s mercy, my condition got well. I continued with my duty as a worker and it was my wife who earned for a living while my sister-in-law took care of my children. Whenever we left, we were unsure of when we could be coming home again. I worried because I didn’t know if my family still had something to eat. My situation was hard then! I was a full-time worker, no job, no resources! It even came to a point that I thought of quitting! I had asked the permission of Brother Candong and Bro. Eli. Worse was that a group of workers made reports on me. Bro. Eli said, “Why will you quit if it was not true? Do not mind them, your commitment is not with them, but God.” So I did not quit anymore despite so many trials. There was a time we were going home from our assignment when we fell on a rice field in San Bartolome, Tarlac because the road was dark. We really had a hard time then! Whenever our tricycle would get flat tired, we had no choice but to sleep on the road because there were no other tricycles available. Even during Martial Law, when many soldiers roamed around, we still conducted public meetings.
On May 2, 1993, I was assigned as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Aurora. I was assigned as a baptizer in October 1993. Then on September 30, 1994, I was transferred to Bulacan and again transferred to Manila on July 1, 1995. My first assignment to Hongkong was on March 15, 1997. I was reassigned there on August 4, 1997 and August 30, 1998. It was in 1999 when I was transferred to Pampanga and BOIZ, also in North 1 and North 2 Divisions. With the help of God, I have been assigned also in different countries like Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Saipan and now here in Australia.
I was appointed Minister-in-Charge (MIC) in the year 2001. Being an MIC, I am tasked to handle a very serious obligation. I never really thought of reaching this far. I did not even finished my studies but with God’s help, here I am now. It’s up to God where He wants to assign me. And I thank Him because although I’m not worthy, He entrusted me with a very sensitive duty! I often assess myself if I am able to contribute to the ministry.
Thank God for our leaders, Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel who honestly lead us and care for us. At present, with God’s mercy, I am already 22 years old in the service along with my wife and four children. I pray to God that we remain in the service and we hope to finish our course.
First published in Believer Newsmagazine, February 2005.