One day, I found my Bible wrapped with duct tape on the sides. Whoever did it, may God have mercy on them. I tried to remove the tape without destroying the pages but I could not. I had no choice but to use a cutter to scrape the tape off my precious first Bible. That was a very sad day for me. I was asking myself then, “Why do they hate the Bible?”
By Erick Quinto
I was born to a family of devoted Catholics. Two of my maternal uncles are full-pledged priests, one of my maternal aunts is a nun and my maternal grandfather is a lay minister. Being raised in the Catholic religion and having been visiting my uncles in the seminary when they were studying to become priests, made me think of becoming a priest too during my high school days. I intimated to my parents about my desire to become a priest but my father discouraged me and told me that having two priests in the family is enough.
On a summer vacation of 1997, just before I entered college, one of my uncles from my father’s side told me about a religious program that he was fond of watching. I tried to watch the program in RPN 9 (TV 12 in Baguio) that used to air every 4 to 5PM. I found myself believing every word that the preacher in the program was preaching. That preacher is Bro. Eli Soriano of the religious program, Ang Dating Daan.
It was through Ang Dating Daan that I have known how abominable it is, bowing down before graven images. I have learned from Bro. Eli how blasphemous and disrespectful to God is the practice of calling the priests “Father.” Since then, I decided to forget my intention of becoming a priest because I have learned from Bro. Eli about the many errors and false doctrines of the Catholic Church.
When I entered college, I could still feel in my heart that I want to serve the Lord. On my way to school, I used to see a Bible school and I thought of dropping by to inquire. I believe that God saw what was in my heart so He kept reminding me about serving Him. But God did not permit me to inquire about that Bible school as it belonged a Born Again movement.
I continued listening discretely to Bro. Eli through a radio program that aired from Tarlac during that year, 1998. During those times, my parents discovered that I was listening to this preacher’s program and they started to discourage me. My mother told me that if I continued to listen to Bro. Eli and study the Bible, I would go crazy like our Jehovah’s Witness neighbor who went crazy.
Despite the discouragements, I continued listening to Bro. Eli’s radio program in the lowest radio volume as possible so my parents would not hear. I felt in my heart that I want to have a Bible so I took note of the contact information that was being announced in the program. The contact person was Sis. Lilian Gabriel and the contact number was 486-0062.
Using a payphone in our school campus, I called Sis Lilian to ask for a Bible. Fortunately, there was a brother who was working as a barber inside the campus of CLSU, my school. Honestly, that was very memorable because it was the first time in my life that I used a pay phone. Sis. Lillian referred me to Bro. Jonald Tamondong, the barber brother. I approached Bro. Jonald in his shop and asked for a Bible. He gave me my first copy and invited me to a Bible study. I happily accepted his invitation. We held Bible study sessions in his boarding house together with other CLSU students.
During those times when I was undergoing Bible studies with Bro. Ver Bunag, I had some heated discussions about religion in our class with my classmates who were INCs and Mormons. I told them the things that I have learned from Bro. Eli about the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the wrongness of the polygamous nature of Joseph Smith. One day after class, one of my classmates approached me and asked me if I also listen to Bro. Eli. I said yes and he told me that he was listening too, so, I informed him that I was attending Bible studies. Since then, the two of us attended the Bible study sessions and finished all of the topics in the worker’s outline. I had a notebook full of notes after all those Bible study sessions.
After listening to all those study topics, the worker invited us to listen to indoctrination sessions. He told us that we could study the words of God deeper in indoctrination sessions. I and my classmate, Bro. Lexor Bumanlag, attended the indoctrination sessions officiated by Bro. Luis Nolasco and Bro. Romy Adora at Cabanatuan City Coordinating Center. Cabanatuan City is more than an hour-and-a-half away from our school via jeepney travel.
Some of the CLSU students who listened ahead of us finished indoctrination in September 1998. It was on September 27, 1998 that I first went to Apalit, Pampanga coinciding with the baptism of the CLSU brothers. That was a thanksgiving day. The brothers were baptized during break time in the old baptisary. That was the first time that I saw Bro. Eli in person. I was very nervous then because I didn’t tell my parents that I would go to Apalit. I knew then that even if I told them, they wouldn’t permit me anyway.
The morning after that day, I went home and as I was dressing up, my father saw me and asked me where I came from. I told him that I came from the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. I could tell by his voice that he was very angry and disappointed. He punched the wall to express his disagreement. He thought that I was already baptized.
One day, I found my Bible wrapped with duct tape on the sides. Whoever did it, may God have mercy on them. I tried to remove the tape without destroying the pages but I could not. I had no choice but to use a cutter to scrape the tape off my precious first Bible. That was a very sad day for me. I was asking myself then, “Why do they hate the Bible? What did the Bible do to them?” My family used the bible of the Catholic Church then. In fact, we have small Bibles at home so, why did someone do that to my own?
After the semester break, Bro. Lexor and I continued to listen to indoctrination sessions. It took us a few months to finish all the sessions because we only found time at daytime to attend the sessions during our long vacant periods in school. During the final session, the worker asked us to raise our right hand if we are ready and willing to accept baptism. We both raised our right hand.
November 20, 1998, Friday, a day before I turned 18, we went to Apalit to be baptized. I was crying as I queued in front of the newly constructed baptisary. Here was I, ready to surrender, to change my life and to serve God. I entrusted my fate to God. In my heart I said, “His will be done.” At 1:50PM, Bro. Manny Antonio baptized me.
Things were hard at the start because I was only 18 years old then and I was studying BS Civil Engineering. My parents are non-members of the church. Discouragements, hardships and persecutions came as expected. During school days, attending gatherings was not a problem because I had allowance. But during school vacations, I had to save money for fare so I could go to the locale.
There was one Sunday when my mother was pulling me from bed as she cried to convince me to go to church to attend the mass. God knows that I love them but I cannot do what she was asking me to do because it is against God’s will. The Roman Catholic Church? I go there?
One December 25 morning, Catholic’s Christmas day that coincided with MCGI’s international thanksgiving, I told my father that I would go to Apalit to attend Church. He said, “If you will leave, don’t return.”
I left but I returned and with God’s help, everything went fine. One of my uncles from my father’s side told me that because of this church that I attended, I would not be able to finish my studies. I took it as a challenge and with God’s help, I finished my course in due time and passed the board exam afterwards.
My unforgettable encounter with my priest uncle was when he was drunk and was forcing me to drink wine. He was very angry because I firmly refused. One of my priest uncles unfriended me in Facebook because of my posts and even posted Catholic Faith Defenders’ blog that attacks me on his FB wall.
My paternal uncle who invited me to watch Ang Dating Daan in 1997 is still a non-member. He blocked me in Facebook recently. I pity him and his family. He could have led his family to true service to God if he was brave enough to obey the Lord and face the consequences.
With God’s help, mercy and guidance, I continue to serve God despite various hindrances while keeping in mind that as long as I am willing to do His will, God will help me through – all the way.