In commemoration of the birthday of Executive Minister Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo, we feature INC officers of various offices as strong helpers of the Church Administration from around the world.
When 10-year-old Sophia Espiritu was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer, her family depended on God for hope and a chance to live cancer-free.
[On-Screen Text Graphics]
“THE REASONS I AM BRAVE”
Sophia Espiritu: I was sitting there with my family, pinkies up, sipping tea and eating scones. The food came, course after course of mini sandwiches, endless varieties of tea, and quite delectable, absolutely mouthwatering desserts. But the ending specialty cake was out of this world, mate. It was a chocolate almond cake, with a little bit of chocolate mousse, and a striped fondant scarf. In addition, I got homemade pistachio macarons, topped with the cursive iced finishing of my name. We were having the time of our lives in Scotland, during our fancy afternoon tea, while inside Balmoral Hotel. There, famous author J.K. Rowling had finished writing one of her popular books, but I couldn’t help but think about how different our lives were just about a year before.
In March 2018, when I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, which is a brain tumor, a form of cancer— a cancer diagnosis that changed my whole life in a millisecond. I want to say it was scary, I want to say that it made me angry and left me depressed. What I can tell you though, is that chemotherapy is painful and super inconvenient. The needles, the poking, the metallic taste in my mouth, and the exhausting, tiring, and endless hours spent in the hospital. It was all completely draining.
I admit, I felt scared. I was absolutely stunned. But then I realized something, that no matter what would happen to me, I shouldn’t be scared, since my mom and dad always gave me a reason to be positive. My parents taught me the importance of prayer. So I asked God to make me strong. My parents made it clear that God was always with me, and I knew it every step of the way, as I felt God’s love deep inside my heart.
God’s love came in the form of kind nurses, a team of good doctors, the best parents, a really protective and supportive older brother, and good news, like when I was told my tumor had decreased in size by September of 2018, the same year of my diagnosis. That was God’s love—the love that made me stronger and helped me keep running forward.
My birthday is in December, and to get good news like that before my birthday was awesome! And I wanted to do something special, not anything particular for me, but for others. I wanted to help other children because, these past years, so many people have helped me: all of the nurses and physicians, all my family and my many friends, and most importantly—God.
So, I just wanted to be able to help and give back to everyone. So, after some brainstorming with my mom, we decided to start a Shirt and Share Fundraiser. I wanted to raise funds so that other pediatric patients could have a chemotherapy port shirt, just like mine. Because when I’m getting my treatments, I notice that there are many children who don’t have a special shirt like mine. This shirt gives the nurses easier access during chemotherapy treatment, which makes it a more comfortable experience for the patient. I know about the rough time these other patients are going through. And I really want to help make it an easier experience for them, especially since we’re all just kids—some even babies and toddlers. We don’t know how to cope with this stuff. I mean, some can’t even properly talk or read.
I created a video, the word spread,
Holbrook grl marks 10th
chemotherapy port shirt
and, with the help of the community, we raised enough for over 700 shirts. My original goal for myself was 30—that’s big. I’d do the math, but…hold on. Okay, so my fundraiser gave me a whopping 670 more shirts than I had ever planned or even dreamed to have.
I donated the chemotherapy port shirts on my birthday. And what many people don’t know is that the ‘share’ in the name ‘Shirt and Share’ actually means I’m also sharing my faith inside the true Church Of Christ, by packing Pasugo: God’s Message magazines and INC media cards, with the chemo shirts.
I guess people got the word about my kindness, because the amazing Make-A-Wish Foundation held a banquet for me. It was amazing. It was everything that I loved. And then, I was gifted with a trip to Scotland, where I had the best time of my young life, and ate some of the best foods in the world. The Make-A-Wish Foundation said they did all those things for me because I’m brave.
But I’m only brave because that’s what God’s words in the Bible, taught to us in the worship services, encourage us to be. I’m also brave because of my mom’s warm and supportive hugs, and the look of love I see in my dad’s eyes. But I feel really brave when I hear them asking for God’s help during our family prayers. I’m brave because I have my family and my faith. And I’m also brave because I have faith in God’s true words that I hear being taught to us by the Administration of the Church Of Christ. I feel strong when, as a children’s choir member, I sing hymns to praise and thank God.
Through this COVID-19 pandemic, though it has been very hard, it still goes to show that with God nothing is ever impossible. I’m still here, in this very moment, with God’s love still inside me which takes form in the health that He has bestowed. Sure, disasters and illnesses, like this, may happen in this world. But we should still trust the Almighty God, nevertheless. He cares for those who do not doubt Him—protecting and guiding His children.
Now, I am 11 years old. I am here today cancer-free, and with no active sign of the tumor. And I know for sure that it’s because of God; not because of my family, or any friendly doctors, and especially not because of myself, or any man alone, but because of the Almighty God, who granted me my miracle.
More discover the true Gospel and are baptized in Rome, Italy; more join the Church Of Christ as a series of month-long baptisms are held in Australia.
An Inaugural Worship Service in Shoshoni, Wyoming followed by an ‘Aid to Humanity’ outreach event to assist residents in the community.
Is it just me? Or did it feel like our kids grew up so fast during these last few months of quarantine, COVID, and all the different things that are changing in the world? Guys, my kid is a teenager now. And I can actually feel it.
Emirick Haro: Welcome to Teenagehood.
Mariel Gutierrez: No, thank you.
Bernie Rosquites: I’m not quite there yet. But you all know Jojo. He was like a teenager right out of the womb. When he was born they were saying like, “There’s something about him.” All the nurses were like, “There’s something about him. He’s like, it’s like an old soul. You can just tell.”
Mariel: Came out with a Fedora, right?
Bernie: He’s going to be eight this year. But still I could see the changes. I could see the changes where he wants to close his door because he feels like he needs privacy and I’m like what privacy? You don’t even pay no rent up in here. You got a job…
Emirick Haro: Now he’s getting so sassy.
Bernie: Right? The other day I was like, “Why is your door closed?” He’s like, “I need privacy.” And then he started to notice that he’s gotten muscle, he’s beginning to have a mustache. See what had happened was, I was in the bathroom. And I’m like, you know, putting my face on and stuff and he comes in and he starts looking at the mirror and he’s all like looking at himself. He’s like, “Mom, mom I’m getting to have that mustache,” and I’m like, “Yeah look at you.” And he goes, “But you do too.” And so those are the changes in my soon to be eight year old boy going to be like 20.”
Jewell: Yeah. Love it. Love it love it. You know my kids? Well I want to talk particularly about Jasmine. She’s 12 now so she’s preteen. And as you know, Jasmine has always been more the quiet one. Her confidence is really building and she’s being more vocal, which I like. And she’s been taking a lot of initiative. And I think it’s mainly because she’s my firstborn. I mean, she took initiative to do me and Harmony’s laundry and surprised the heck out of us.
Emirick: Are you going to be one of the lucky ones and get one of the like, fabulous teens?
Jewell: No, I think I think because she’s a girl I don’t know. But I actually got teary eyed because I think it’s you know, she’s getting closer to this pandemic thing, her brothers are close to her, so she’s really building confidence. It’s interesting watching her personality develop. So we’ll see where this is gonna lead us.
Emirick: Wow, that’s good. I live in teenage land. I have three teenagers in this house.
Bernie: You’re deep in it girl.
Emirick: Yes, I am from like, 13 to 19. Yeah 13, 16, 19. There are good things and there are some hard things that come along with it. And I’ve learned that teenagehood is expressed differently. Each of my boys are like different kinds of teenagers like when Russell entered teenagehood, he was the anxious, emotional teen crying all of a sudden for like the smallest thing or no reason at all that I can see. And very emotional and expressing himself through art and comics and film. So he’s like the bleeding heart teenager. But when Andrew became a teenager, it was like, brain fog teen. He is the kind that he’s like, “Huh? What’s going on what happened?” Like, we’ll show up somewhere and he’ll be like, “Mom.” I’m like, “What happened?” He’s like, “I forgot to wear shoes out.” But David is emerging to be the Mr. Cool and suave teenager he went and had his hair permed.
Emirick: He’s a very high risk taker. You know, like, he takes risks and which comes with a lot of money.
Mariel: I don’t know how to feel about that. Because like my daughter, I mean, she’s always been sensitive. She’s always been emotional. I don’t know if it’s because she’s a girl. I think that would– I think just kids sometimes are, right? Like whether you’re a boy or a girl sometimes you’re sensitive. She always felt everything so strongly, even when she was little. So I already kind of anticipated what kind of teen she was gonna be. I imagined that was just gonna be amplified and I was kind of right. But there was just this one day where we were trying something new. I don’t know if y’all have tried bar, okay, but it’s all the twitch muscles and it’s very hard. It looks really easy. So anyway, we are attempting it for the first time and then I looked over at her and she had these like big old tears while she was squatting on her toes. And I was like, “Is it that painful? Are you okay?” And then she just bursted into tears and cried and sobbed. And she was like, “Why is everything so hard?” And I was like, “like the workout or like life? Which one?” So like, that’s what I’m trying to navigate right now. Like, I’m sure that there isn’t just one way like how do you deal with it? Here’s how you deal with it. But that is something. What do you guys do?
Emirick: I have done a lot of reading on teenagers and the phases that they go through. And one thing that I learned is about their brains. Like a teenage brain. And even though they look like adults, in their brain they’re so not adults yet. And so, because they look like adults we project–, we want them to act like–
Mariel: We assume that they know better.
Emirick: We expect them to behave a certain way to make certain choices, but then their brains are still very underdeveloped and so like to simplify if I could simplify it for you guys. What I’ve read is that there’s a brain and the lower brain so the upper brain has that prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of rational thinking, practical decision making, being able to plan out the future and just making rational decisions. That’s the upper brain right? On the lower brain is the limbic system, the amygdala is in charge of emotions. And so that the teenage brain is still developing that upper part. And so that’s why they seem irrational. They feel more than they think like what you were saying Matea. She feels everything. She doesn’t think through it as much. And that’s one thing that I read about the teenage brain, they feel more than they think. And so they act out, they act irrational, and then we expect them to behave like adults, so we’re getting you know, upset with them, and why are they thinking like this and we’re thinking all of these horrible things about our teenager, but it’s not personal. It’s illogical and knowing the development of their brain has helped me to deal with a lot of the teenage quirks. And experts believe that the adolescent brain doesn’t actually phase into adulthood until the age of 25.
Mariel: Wait wait wait, Does that mean they live with us till 25? Like, we have to be crying during bar?
Emirick: It’s scary because it means we actually release them or, you know, a soft release before their prefrontal cortex is developed. And I think about myself, I was married at 24. That explains a lot from my life.
So, uh, that that is crazy, right? But the more you read up on the topic, the more patient you become with your teenager and the process that they’re going through. I think it’s really important. I read this and this one really hangs out to me for dealing with your teenagers is to remember, connection before correction. And it’s really important to continue connecting with your teenager, even though you feel like they’re being weird. And you want to get as far away from that weirdness as possible, continue to connect with your teenager, be in the know, know what the trends are. Sometimes it’s a different generation and we kind of like as older people as adults, we don’t understand it as well but like I don’t know, as a middle school teacher and as a parent of teenagers–
Mariel: you see it a lot.
Jewell: Yeah. And dealing with my teens. It’s better for me to be vulnerable and honest with them instead of projecting an image of perfection. When I was young, I did everything right. You know, if I come across that way, I’m not as effective in connecting with them,
Okay? So it’s important to be in the know, to understand what’s going on in their world, to know who their friends are. They’re going to be weird and erratic and that’s something we can’t control. That’s why it’s important to be in the know, and to make sure that they’re surrounded by other Christians who care and are constantly reminding them about their faith, so that they don’t make any unwise decisions.
Jewell: You know that makes a lot of sense, because when I was growing up, I was always involved in the youth organizations of the Church Of Christ. And I really learned the importance of having a relationship with God and it made me confident and it helped me make good decisions. And I had friends that reminded me to do the same at all times. And that’s really what I want for my kids. I want them to be surrounded by others who have a good relationship with God and so that they can make good decisions. So when they do make mistakes, right away they think about, “Okay, how can I have this corrected so that I have a good relationship with God?” So I love that.
Emirick: I agree with you Jewell. Because when I was growing up, the youth group that I was involved in at church was my saving grace so many times. When I was having weird emotions or contemplating bad decisions, they were always there to kind of talk me through it and help remind me about what our focus is in life and do it in a way where we were having a good time.
Mariel: That’s cool. Okay, that’s really actually a comfort to know. And the great thing is Matea is blessed to be surrounded by a lot of people that she looks up to at church. Now that she’s a part of the youth group, right? She is an officer in the youth group. And that means she helps the youth group plan things and they do edification things. That means like, help each other out. And they do skits and like really cute things to encourage one another, and the group itself to help strengthen that group. But I think that the great thing actually is that she has a lot of older youth group members to look up to. You know, a lot of these– Well, they’re not kids anymore. A lot of these young adults used to take care of her during children’s worship service. And they’ve seen her throughout like the many phases as well. Maybe not in the capacity a parent would, but the great thing is that they know her, they look out for her even during these times, sometimes they’ll text her, “Hey, how are you holding up?” And I think that Yeah, even just them like, it’s not just me and my husband checking in on her. It’s like the young adults in our church that have gone through it, that understand her and that are looking out for her. I think that has been actually phenomenal for her. It’s been a great–not a parent supplement. You know, but it’s been great, that parts have been great.
Emirick: It takes a village right?
Mariel: There’s a village. There’s the village sometimes in unexpected places because I still kind of see them as, like, little kids, when they were, you know, but now they’re young adults, and they’re helping my kid out, so it’s great. Yeah.
Mariel: Anyway, I wanted to thank you ladies. For being on the call with me today. I really needed to hear your voices and all your wisdom. And I wanted to thank everyone that’s listening to this episode of Faith and Family as well. Remember, it’s gonna be a rough age between 12 to 25. Apparently right Emirick? But let’s not take it personal, that’s what I’m getting. I’m not gonna take it personal anymore, right? It’s not us it’s them, but it’s okay that it’s them because it’s part of growing up.
INCGiving volunteers in Sacramento, California, hold a Free Drive-through Flu Shot event for the upcoming flu season. Appreciating COVID-19 testing site employees throughout New Jersey during a ‘My Countrymen, My Brethren’ event held by the Church Of Christ.
Hurricane survivors in Florida receive help from Church Of Christ volunteers after facing Hurricane Paulette and Sally. A young woman in Ottawa, Canada is called and baptized into the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) despite facing challenges due to the pandemic.
Learn how to overcome cabin fever and anxiety while in lockdown, shelter in place, or quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Overcome the Impact of Lockdown
3:00 What is “cabin fever” or “going stir crazy”?
6:05 The loss of comfort and control in our lives
11:54 Why people panic bought toilet paper and hand sanitizer
16:21 What is “cabin fever” or “going stir crazy”
19:10 Tips on dealing with isolation, lockdown, or shelter in place
22:18 Why members of the Church Of Christ are more mentally prepared
28:40 Spiritual guidance
Martin: The entire world has been in some form of lockdown or social isolation for the past 7-8 months. What started as a couple of weeks at home has now become a challenging mental adjustment to a seemingly unending life under quarantine and social distancing. This is our new normal. And despite some parts of the world starting to open up, the fear, anxiety, and worry of COVID-19, along with the mental impact of staying at home, linger. So how do we get through it?
Let’s have a Heart And Soul conversation.
Martin: Hello everyone, hope you’re all doing ok and are safe at home. Today, I’d like to discuss the impact living in lockdown has had on our mental health. For this, I was able to interview Dr. Darwin Buyson. Dr. Buyson is a clinical psychologist, and we had him last year on a panel discussion about Body Image. For this topic, we discussed the reasons why people struggle with staying at home, what cabin fever is, and what we can do to help ourselves navigate the uncertainty of living in quarantine during a pandemic. Afterwards minister of the gospel, Bro. Donald Pinnock, will join us to expand on what Dr. Darwin and I discussed.
Darwin: The more anxious you become, the more you feel you need to worry. And you end up worrying, thinking, checking, reassuring yourself that everything will be okay. When actually, it’s not okay. The situation is unpredictable, but we keep doing things to escalate our anxiety. And anxiety is the driver of irrational behavior.
Darwin: Hi, my name is Dr. Darwin Buyson and I’m calling in from Notting Hill London.
Martin: Hi, Dr. Darwin. Real quick can you just tell us in what field of medicine did you study and are practicing in currently?
Darwin: So I am a qualified clinical psychologist and I work in the field of psychosis. So I work with people who are having a first episode of psychosis.
Martin: Right. And can you tell us a little bit more about, in layman’s terms, what is psychosis? And how does that relate to the everyday life of people?
Darwin: So the main features of psychosis, which is a very serious mental health problem, is people who suffer from what we call delusional beliefs or believing things that aren’t necessarily true, driven by fear. Which is actually quite relevant today.
Martin: Right. Unfortunately, the fear of what’s happening right now and kind of making people question what’s happening around them, affecting them mentally, it’s affecting not just those who have psychosis but the whole world. Can you talk about just the general mental effects of being isolated at home can have on somebody? Are you seeing anything there in the UK where they’re growing concerns that the longer we’re in isolation, the more people are going to get this “ cabin fever”? Start getting a little stir crazy?
Darwin: Oh, yes yes. I think for the first couple of weeks people were, they were taking in their stride. It was all quite new. And people just got on with things and tried to do their best to adapt to this change. It’s that kind of emergency change, we can deal with this. But the longer it goes on, the more realization people have that this is not something that’s just going to end soon. We don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of uncertainty around.
Darwin: And human beings just don’t cope well with uncertainty. Our whole lives are designed to reduce uncertainty. Our nine to five working schedules, our shifts, our eating at particular times, going to bed at particular times. We like predictability. Now we’re in a situation where there is no predictability or there’s very little predictability. And all the frameworks that were there to provide some predictability are now gone. So people are not working or working from home. So that’s a huge struggle for people to implement their own kind of schedules or timetables.
Martin: Right, right. Because they’re not used to living life that way.
Darwin: No, it’s usually done for us.
Martin: Right, right. Can you speak a little bit about that? I’ve been reading articles and someone just talked about how we’ve just been so comfortable. But because we’ve become such creatures of comfort, where nothing really would prevent us from doing whatever we want. To now not being able to do anything really, outside of just getting essential goods. Can you talk a little bit about that? How maybe— is there some truth to that, that we were a little bit too comfortable? That because everything was done for us, not only our schedule, but just anything that we need—the convenience of anything and everything was out there and now most of that is gone.
Darwin: Yes, absolutely. I think that, to varying degrees, this kind of comfort gave us a sense of control.
Darwin: And again, it’s on the same lines as predictability. The feeling of being in control is quite reassuring. We were comfortable with knowing that we can do what we want when we want. But now this uncertainty has kind of thrown that idea of being in control out the window. And that’s causing a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety in people. And when we don’t know or when we’re not in control the usual first, first thing is we need to know. We need to find out what’s going on here.
Darwin: We need to get some feeling of certainty back. You see that in the behavior of people that you know, they’re constantly checking the news, they’re constantly checking social media, they need to know. Trying to grasp something that they can hold on to. But the reality is, no one really knows.
Martin: Right. I actually spoke to another doctor in California. He’s a GP (General Practitioner) and I asked him well, we don’t know when this is going to end. We don’t know how soon it’s going to get better, if it’s going to get better anytime soon. What have you been saying to your patients and he said, he tried to be honest with them. That the sooner we accept that we’re in a bad situation, the more we can move forward with that understanding that we can’t control that we’re in a bad situation. We just have to accept that it’s a bad situation and try and move forward.
Darwin: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with that. And that’s something, that concept of acceptance is very difficult. Because usually we’re now conditioned that if we don’t like something, we just do something about it. We change it. We don’t like being uncertain we’ll change. We don’t like the job that we’re in, we’ll find a new one. We don’t have (many choices) now.
Martin: Right. It’s like you don’t want to stay at home, I’ll just go out. Oh, you don’t like where you went there, I’ll go somewhere else next time. And now you don’t have (many) of those options.
Darwin: You don’t have (many) those options. So, it highlights or emphasizes what was probably already true is that we have very little control over our day to day life and how fragile our control is.
Martin: Right, right.
Darwin: But we’re so not used to accepting that.
Martin: Why do you think that is? Now that we’re all—we don’t have a choice, we have to accept that we have to be on lock down, what is that mental barrier? That is the kind of—I’m sure it’s different for everybody, but in general terms. Why is it hard for us to accept that right now is not a good situation, and that we don’t know when it’s going to get better.
Darwin: I think from a psychological perspective, I think what drives people to find it difficult to accept is because it’s easier to give yourself the idea that you can do something about it. And I’ll elaborate on that. For example, if we’re scared, we tend to worry. Yeah, worry, in that sense is a behavior. We’re scared, we worry. And we think when we ask people, why do they worry? A lot of them answer well, because I want to be prepared.
Darwin: I want to know what I might need to do if what I’m worrying about happens, if the worst case scenario happens. That’s reasonable, but the unintended consequences by worrying about the worst case scenario, you make yourself feel anxious.
Darwin: The more anxious you become, the more you feel you need to worry. And you end up worrying, thinking, checking, reassuring yourself that everything will be okay. When actually, it’s not okay. The situation is unpredictable, but we keep doing things to escalate our anxiety. And anxiety is the driver of irrational behavior. I’m sure most of us can relate to the scary movie example. After having watched a scary movie, we feel scared, we feel anxious for a short time afterwards.
Darwin: What do we do, when we go into the bathroom after having watched a scary movie?
Martin: Run in and run out as fast as you can.
Darwin: Exactly. We don’t look into the mirror, we turn the lights on, we maybe asked someone to come with us.
Darwin: But we know, if you ask them, if you ask anybody, they don’t believe that something bad is going to happen. But what’s driving that behavior? It’s fear. Fear makes us irrational. As soon as we realize that it’s fear that’s driving our behavior and then stop that fear driven behavior, the sooner we can get to that point of acceptance. Actually, you know what, me turning this light on, isn’t going to change anything. Me, worrying isn’t going to change anything. I’m just going to stop worrying.
Martin: So, you just made me realize something. This is amazing. So actually, those who went out and panic bought a whole bunch of toilet paper and disinfectant was a method of them finding reassurance that if I have a stockpile of toilet paper, then I’m reassured that everything is going to be okay. When it really had no direct correlation to when this pandemic was going to end.
Darwin: Absolutely. It’s all to relieve the feeling of anxiety in the short term.
Darwin: And that’s essentially the pattern that we tend to fall into. And what’s really interesting is that it’s now no longer just the people suffering from mental illness that are experiencing this. We’re all fear driven. Now, our behavior to varying degrees is fear driven, and we’re doing irrational things.
Darwin: We’re buying more than we need. We’re checking the news more than we usually do. Some of us are believing conspiracy theories about where this virus has come from.
Martin: And even like if there was an intention or like a malicious purpose as to why it even started in the first place.
Darwin: Absolutely. Yeah. And this is all well—for me, one of the main reasons for this is it’s this need to know. It comes back to this dealing with uncertainty. Well, yeah, this came from China. Yeah, that’s the explanation. Well now I know, that’s better than not knowing.
Darwin: Because not knowing is more anxiety provoking, and we don’t like to feel anxiety. We don’t like to feel not in control.
Martin: And I guess because there’s so much uncertainty as to when there’s going to be a vaccine, how long the supplies are going to last, the amount of cases, the amount of deaths. Then people start, especially on social media, gravitating towards conspiracy theories of those who are willing to give these answers, whether or not they’re factual or based off of any kind of science. It’s more reassuring for them to say, well, that person said it on Facebook, or that person posted it, so that must be what’s happening.
Darwin: Yeah. Even if people don’t really believe it. It’s very powerful. This anxiety relief. It’s a bit like a drug.
Martin: Regardless of what form that relief takes, so long as they get that relief.
Darwin: As long as they get that relief. We really don’t like feeling anxious. We’re actually hardwired to do that. Our brains release neuro chemicals, adrenaline, and it drives us physically to look for threat and to try and eradicate it. And the counterbalance to that is stepping back and thinking. And when we’re anxious we don’t think in a wider sense. We’re very narrow focused when we’re anxious. It’s like being in a jungle. You hear at night on your own, you hear a rustling in the bushes. You’re not going to listen out the background noise for the jungle, your whole focus and your attention will be where that noise come from.
Martin: Right. Is it a monster out my window?
Darwin: Yes, exactly.
Martin: Can you explain to those who are listening what exactly is “cabin fever” or going stir crazy? What is that and how is that in relation to what we’re going through right now?
Darwin: Ordinarily we have these natural breaks from our thought process. We very rarely do we spend hours and hours and hours thinking about all our worries because we have natural breaks. We go to work. We go for a walk outside. We have these natural breaks. But if you’re confined for an extended period of time in isolation, there are no checks or balances on your thinking. And you just have this ongoing kind of obsession or ongoing preoccupation with your worry. And that has a huge impact on how your body functions and how your mind functions. You then find it very difficult to sleep. You become sleep deprived. You then when you’re sleep deprived, your thinking becomes even less rational. Your mood shifts even more erratically. You become impulsive. Your appetite goes. You’re no longer having enough nutrition. And it all kind of combines in this perfect storm where you then just kind of implode and you just don’t function rationally. In the past that was used as a form of torture.
Martin: Isolation or solitary confinement in the prison is a method of punishment to criminals where they’re confined to a small space and they can’t go anywhere.
Darwin: Absolutely, yeah. And without any sort of external stimulation or breaks from your own thought process, add some sleep deprivation into that.
Martin: On top of a pandemic. On top of not knowing when this is all going to end.
Darwin: So yeah, in very extreme situations, people will just literally drive themselves mad. Stir-crazy.
Martin: So what are some common tips for our listeners? I’ve interviewed maybe ten or fifteen people and one of the things that they said their families or friends are going through is that they want to go outside. They want to be able to see their friends. They know that we have to social distance, that we have to remain in lockdown. But there’s that itch that I need to go outside. I need to be outside of the environment of my home physically and the environment of my thoughts mentally, like you mentioned. So if in the absence of being able to do that, do you have any tips to kind of help cope?
Darwin: Yeah. It’s interesting that when we are feeling extreme distress, we look for quite, I don’t want to say extreme, but we look for very explicit changes. Like we’re inside. We want to go outside. Actually any small changes can make a big difference. One of the things that we advise our patients who are very anxious because of their worries is we ask them to check their thinking every so often and make them more aware that they are worrying. So very basic thing is, ask yourself, what are you thinking about? Is what you’re thinking about making you feel more or less anxious? Is what you’re thinking about helpful? Do a little audit on your current thought process. If it doesn’t make you feel better or in other words it’s depleting you, then you need to take a step back, stop and try and limit the amount of time you spend thinking negatively or worrying. When you ask people, it’s really surprising, but when you ask people do they ever try to stop worrying, people very rarely, consciously try to stop worrying. They only stop worrying when they have evidence that what they’re worrying about is no longer around or they fall asleep, or they’re distracted by something else. Very rarely do people intentionally stop or consciously stop. So incorporating that kind of awareness and stopping yourself from worrying is a very simple thing to do. That doesn’t require you to go outside and put yourself at risk. But if you can be more aware, in tune with your own mental processes, that would be a huge, huge help because your mind goes places that you don’t realize is causing you a lot of damage. And you want to keep it away from those dangerous places.
Martin: Definitely. And I want to switch gears now when you said that we’re not so good with dealing with uncertainty, or not having control. As members of the Church Of Christ that’s kind of ingrained in us, knowing that not everything is in our control, and that the world is full of uncertainty. Why, as members of the Church Of Christ, are we more, I guess the advantage is that we’re a little bit more mentally prepared, mentally equipped that this situation isn’t necessarily gonna have such negative repercussions to our mental state because of the faith that has been ingrained in us?
Darwin: Yeah. I completely agree that members of the Church Of Christ are more mentally prepared. And one of the things that I always remember is that, especially now in these challenging times, is that you’re not to rely on your own abilities. That was always ingrained in me growing up not to rely on your own abilities. Your human abilities are limited and we should put our trust in God. For someone who has grown up trusting their abilities, that’s very difficult. Or this idea that human beings, scientists, and, all these very clever people can find a way, letting go of that idea that we can do something about it is very, very difficult. But I think for members of the Church, that’s ingrained in us. So I think that that’s a very good foundation for dealing with what we’re going through now. Trusting, having that trust in God, despite what’s going on; that solid foundation. For a lot of people who don’t have that, that’s a frightening place to be. Whereas for us, it’s we have an anchor. We’re grounded. There’s this solid rock that is immovable that we can just anchor ourselves to and we’re good. There’s nothing that can move us or harm us.
Martin: And how, mentally speaking, how invaluable is that to have that anchor?
Darwin: That is, I think the bedrock. That’s the foundation of keeping yourself sane in a really uncertain situation. You just look at the analogy. If you don’t have an anchor, if you’re not tied to anything, you’re just basically drifting. You’re just drifting at sea with no direction. And that’s a really scary place, mentally, whereas here, you don’t need to keep checking. You don’t need to keep doing unreasonable irrational things because you know that whichever way things go, you’ll be okay. That relieves you of anxiety. Then if you’re relieved of anxiety and fear, it’s unlikely that you’ll get caught in that vicious trap, that vicious cycle of irrational behavior, because you don’t need to.
Martin: Right. What’s the one piece of advice for any of our listeners right now who are going through this, who may have relatives, family members on the front line worrying about them, isolated at home with nobody to talk to, worried about themselves. Is there anything that you can give to reassure them that we’ll get through this okay, together?
Darwin: Yeah, I think it comes back to something that you mentioned earlier about realizing how limited we are as individuals, and not trying to, not trying to solve this situation and not trying to go for short term solutions to make yourself feel better. Bring all those anxieties to God and accept that we are not in control, that it’s God who is in control of this situation and that we leave all our worries and cares to God, which will then liberate us and free us to then focus on what we need to do. That’s useful. That’s nourishing to all the more and connect to our faith and what we do as members of the Church Of Christ. To pray more. To attend the worship service, even though it’s in our own homes. To make sure that we try to make the environment in which we worship as sacred and as holy as possible. To, to really immerse ourselves in what we do as, as members of the Church. Because this is a real challenge to our faith now. And for a lot of us, this will really help us, I believe, that this is a good opportunity to really prove how much we do trust in God. And the only way you can do that is by accepting our limitations and trusting that God will bring us through this.
Martin: That was Dr. Darwin Buyson. Now joining us is minister of the gospel, Bro. Donald Pinnock. Bro. Donald, Dr. Darwin mentioned that members of the Church Of Christ deal with bad situations differently. For our listeners who are not members of the Church Of Christ, what does that mean?
Bro. Donald: Well, members of the Church Of Christ do not place their trust nor hope in their own ability or even that of their fellow-man, like what some people are doing. Rather they follow what the Bible teaches, for example we can read in Proverbs 3:5-6 this;
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
[Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation]
Man’s understanding and ability, as we know, is limited, and God is quite the opposite; He is all-knowing and unlimited in His ability. That is why the members of the Church Of Christ, they place their hope and trust in who will, as the Bible teaches, direct our paths.
Martin: And Bro. Donald, how are members of the Church Of Christ better mentally equipped to handle challenges?
Bro. Donald: Well it’s not because we consider ourselves more intelligent or capable than others. But rather we follow, and believe in, what the Bible teaches. Philippians 4:6-7 makes known;
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
[Philippians 4:6-7 The Living Bible]
We should notice that God grants us the inner peace that we need, especially during times like this, so that we do not fall into despair or desperation.
Martin: Now, what have members of the Church Of Christ been doing during lockdown, and how has that helped them?
Bro. Donald: Well, just like so many people, Martin, we have found ourselves with time to focus on certain aspects of life that perhaps were neglected in one way or another due to focusing on that which is more important in the sense of earning a living, and for the students, when it came to pursuing their education. But now, we all find more time to, for example exercise, when it comes to enhancing our family bonds, and even pursuing hobbies. But what is a staple in the life of Church Of Christ members, before and even during the lockdown restrictions is none other than the worship of God. Church Of Christ members have been worshipping God, primarily via video conferencing technology. The importance of the worship service cannot be overstated as we can glean from the following citation:
How happy are the people who worship you with songs, who live in the light of your kindness! Because of you they rejoice all day long, and they praise you for your goodness. You give us great victories; in your love you make us triumphant.
[Psalms 89:15-17 Today’s English Version]
That, by the way, we just read Psalms 89:15-17. Worshipping God gives us the joy or happiness that we need, even in the midst of this pandemic. During the worship service, we are able to sing hymns of praises. It is also during the worship service when we can best pray unto God.
Martin: And how effective can prayer be in our lives? Maybe those who are listening, they’re worried about what’s happening out there. Can prayer really make a difference?
Bro. Donald: Yes it can, Martin. We believe in what the Bible teaches about what God is prepared to do when we call or pray to Him. Psalms 91:15-16 states this:
“When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with long life; I will save them.”
[Psalms 91:15-16 Today’s English Version]
We should notice that God is prepared not only to hear but also to answer the prayers of His servants. And how is it that He will answer? Well, He says that He would be with us, He would rescue us, He would reward us with long life, and save us. What more could we ask for?
Martin: Definitely, Bro. Donald. It’s kind of freeing to know that God is there and He is controlling so much of what is good for us. So, how is knowing that God is in control of our lives help us?
Bro. Donald: Well for us members of the Church Of Christ, it gives us assurance and comfort. Because we know we can depend on God to help us at all times, since He Himself promises the following in Jeremiah 29:11;
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
[Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version]
This is why we rely completely on what God can do for us. We trust wholeheartedly in His promises. We do our part, of course, such as following the guidelines implemented by government officials during this pandemic. But we have the most important layer of security. We have the Almighty God to keep us safe, and to grant us a successful future.
Martin: We want to thank you all for joining us. First of all thank you Bro. Donald, for that amazing and enlightening spiritual guidance. Thank you to Dr. Darwin who is in the UK, for his expert advice. And thank you to all of our listeners. Please continue to follow our hashtag on our Instagram, #HeartAndSoulConversations to stay up to date with all things Heart & Soul. Make sure to subscribe to Heart & Soul wherever you get your podcasts at. And you can watch some of Heart & Soul on our INCMEDIA app, which you can download now on any of your streaming platforms, whether it’s android, apple tv, roku, or amazon fire stick. That’s it from us today, hope we were able to help, hope we were able to connect, and hope you’ll join us next time, ready to listen with all your Heart And Soul. Be safe and take care.
Through the worship services held in the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo), most especially the video streaming worship services led by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, members continue to receive reminders to adapt to change and rely on God during the pandemic.
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Church Of Christ members around the world continue to worship God in their own homes despite the ongoing pandemic.
On June 7, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, led thousands of members in a worship service to God through videoconferencing.
The worship service was joined by members from ecclesiastical districts across the Philippines and other parts of Asia.
Many local congregations who joined the worship service are celebrating their anniversary in this month of June.
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Brother Gideon Lim, Jakarta, Indonesia
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Brother Casey Gatbunton, Santiago City, Isabela
Brother Casey Gatbunton: The household worship service is of great help to us because it strengthens and fortifies our faith in God, and our conviction to serve and always praise His great name.
We are so happy and thankful that we were given the opportunity to attend in a worship service led by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo.
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Sister Raquel Rivera, Limbon, Cavite
Sister Raquel Rivera: I learned that the things happening at present aren’t new. These things have been foretold, so we shouldn’t be surprised.
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Sister Shogel T. Tinampay, Mandacpan, Agusan Del Norte
Sister Shogel T. Tinampay: One of the things that was taught was that no matter how great the trials we face are at present, especially in regards to COVID-19, we shouldn’t lose heart. Instead, we should always pray and trust that God won’t abandon us—He will continue to help us.
Brother Gideon Lim: To Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, thank you so much for all your hard work and your concern for all the brethren around the world, for guiding us in understanding the words of God.
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Brother Reny Guzman, Lemu, Cagayan
Brother Reny Guzman: We feel the Executive Minister’s care for us. Even if we are far from him, we could feel his love for us by continuing to lead us.
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Brother Arieljun Rosal, Tagbina, Surigao Del Sur
Brother Arieljun Rosal: We continue to ask God in our prayers, that you be guided, and that your whole household be blessed. Even if there’s a pandemic, we won’t stop serving and worshipping God because we recognize that in this present time, we all the more need God, His help, and His guidance. Thank you very much. We love you so much.
Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, leads Church Of Christ members from Japan and the Philippines in a worship service via videoconferencing, commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Ecclesiastical District of Tokyo. Earlier in the week, the Executive Minister also led the International Conference of all Ministers and Ministerial Workers.
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On August 30, 2020, Church Of Christ members from different parts of Japan and the Philippines were led in a worship service to God by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, from Quezon City, Philippines through videoconferencing.
Earlier this week, on August 25, 2020, the Executive Minister led the International Conference of all ministers and ministerial workers of the Church Of Christ.
Brother Andrew Fisher (Melbourne, Australia): The message that was relayed to us was a very timely and necessary message because he used the Bible to explain that as we get closer to the Day of Judgment, we need to be seen having holy behavior. And we need to be seen being devoted in our services to our Lord God and our faith.
Brother Bon Geguera (Kent, Washington State): As ministers of God, He expects us to be good role models before the brethren. Model, when it comes to obedience and in holy living to be effective leaders in His nation.
Brother Marvin Mangune (Orange County, California): We will always strive to fulfill the obligations and the duties that were given unto us, to be able to bring honor and glory unto our Lord God.
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Quezon City, Philippines
August 30, 2020
Worship Service via Livestreaming
Sister Seiko Sasaki (Yokohama, Japan): I’m thankful that I was able to attend the worship service led by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo through livestreaming.
Brother Naoki Imoto (Osaka, Japan): Based on the preaching earlier today, God never lets us experience problems or trials that are beyond our ability to overcome. When we face difficulties, we need to all the more pray to God and ask Him to give us the strength and power to overcome them.
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This year, the Technology Resource Group, which the Executive Minister himself established, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Sister Seiko: I’m really grateful to Brother Eduardo V. Manalo for strengthening our faith.
Brother Duiane Edwards Sr. (Okinawa, Japan): I would like to thank our Executive Minister for his dynamic leadership in shepherding the Church Of Christ.
Brother Naoki: Despite the current situation, Brother Eduardo Manalo is dedicated to reach out to the brethren not only in the Philippines but around the globe, including Japan, to convey the words of God through video streaming and I can’t thank him enough for his efforts.