I opted to join Bro. Eli’s group, together with the senior brethren in the church, including the relatives of Brother Perez. That time, our former colleagues came out with several tactics that were meant to malign Bro. Eli. But I was never affected by any of those because I have witnessed how Brother Eli sincerely led the brethren.
Bro. Mauricio Bernardo
When I was a kid, I used to work as an “aguador,” one who fetches water for a living. The Americans were the ones who dug that deepwell where I used to fetch water for my neighbors. I also sold junk foods in the movie theters, the reason why I was able to watch movies during that time. As a young man, I was fond of having my clothes tailored. I also liked playing basketball but when I got injured on one occasion, I stopped playing. My attention was diverted to baseball.
During our time, if a man was courting a woman, he had to serenadde her. That was why, my friends and I used to accompany one another whenever we serenaded the girls we were courting.
Before I was given the chance to listen to the teachings of God, I used to drink “lambanog”- a fermented coconut water, and I also used to watch movies. I also used to sell cigarettes. But because I was also a gambler then, all my earnings from selling cigarettes were also lost.
One time, a worker from the Church of God came to our place (Hagonoy) to hold Bible Study. I listened to him and I felt that my mind had been enlightened. All of a sudden, I had fear of God. After three months of listening to Bible Study, I underwent indoctrination. And in March 10, 1953, at the age of 17, I was baptized in San Pablo, Hagonoy, Bulacan.
During the time of Brother Nicolas Perez, I became president of Kabataan ng Hagonoy. Later on, I felt I wanted to join the workers’ ministry. Nobody encouraged me to join the workers’ ministrry. I did it on my own volition. And through God’s help, I was able to become one. I had my first assignment in 1962, in Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan. Bro. Eli and myself were among the workers that Bro. Perez taught in his ministerial classes.
When Bro. Perez passed away in 1975, the congregation was split into three groups. The first group was headed by Levita Gugulan, the second group was presided by Filomeno Hizon, and the third group was led by Bro. Eli. I opted to join Bro. Eli’s group, together with the senior brethren in the church, including the relatives of Brother Perez. That time, our former colleagues came out with several tactics that were meant to malign Bro. Eli. But I was never affected by any of those because I have witnessed how Brother Eli sincerely led the brethren. Through God’s help, I remained as a church worker. I would say that being a worker is one duty that I would never give up because I believe that it is a God-given duty. I could still recall the time when we used to hold ministerial classes under a mango tree. Actually, I could no longer recall how many we were that were being taught by Bro. Eli of the Word of God, which we would impart to the brethren in our respective assignments. I have witnessed how the flock that Bro. Eli is leading multiply in number.
I got married at the age of twenty-one. Our unio brought four children. Unfortunately, our relationship lasted only for ten years because we were often quarelling. My wife left us. Nevertheless, I was able to rear our children successfully, singlehandedly. I did not marry again. I just devoted my time and attention to the performance of my duty as a worker.
From 1993 to 1995, I functioned as an OIC in Laguna, Batangas, Mindoro and Romblon (LBMR Division). But from 1995 to 2000, I was transferred to Bulacan. Aside from being an OIC, another sensitive duty was given to me, and that is to be a baptizer. When I was given this responsibility, I was a bit apprehensive because I felt that I was not that worthy for the position given to me. But I am very thankful to God thet, despite my age, He still entrusted me with a very important duty in our congregation. Through God’s help, I have been trying to fulfill the duties that have been entrusted to me.
In 2001, I bacame a Minister-in-Charge (MIC). Again, I was a bit nervous because I know that I have to exercise extra caution and I have to exert more effort so that I could perform my duties effectively. I love my duties very much. In fact, these were what give meaning to my life. I do not want to lose them. I want to die in the performance of my duties. That is why even though I do not really feel well, I still try my best to officiate baptism. I am very grateful to God because I am still able to continue with my service to him. I am also thankful to Him for giving us Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel who unselfishly lead us to the salvation of our souls.
It is rather unfortunate if a person would just be likened to water, which after laboring hard just to fetch it, it flowed out of the bucket. Not only the water, but also all the efforts are wasted. I do not want it to happen to me. I want to die performing these duties.
First published in Believer Newsmagazine, February 2005.