Church Of Christ Reaches 50 Years in the West
Fifty years after Brother Eraño G. Manalo’s visit in 1968, Church Of Christ members gather together for a worship service led by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo.
Feature News Sacramento California
EXECUTIVE NEWS PRESENTS in association with CHRISTIAN ERA BROADCASTING SERVICE INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Voiceover: These images captured the moment in August 1968 when the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) first reached the US mainland. This moment in history began with a worship service held in a small garage in San Francisco, California, which was led by Brother Eraño Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo back then.
Terry Grant: The natural reaction for something like that – when everybody is rooted in their own religions, and then another religion comes in and says like it’s the true Church, like the Church Of Christ, they would probably stand back and say, “That’s impossible.” It’s like my sisters and brothers, as I was growing up, they would say, “Well, if the Church Of Christ had come from the United States from here,” then they would say, “Yeah, it’s the true Church.” They were thinking like all Christian churches they come from the United States. So, a Church coming in from Asia, like the Church Of Christ coming in, they would say, “Oh, it can’t be the true Church because it didn’t come from the United States. It’s not from America.”
Now would people actually go and check it out from curiosity? I’m sure they would. “What is this Church all about? Let’s just check out the teachings that they believe in.”
In The Far West
Terry Grant: My name is Terry Grant. And I was born in Topeka, Kansas, And I grew up in Saint Mary’s, Kansas, which was a very small farming community, west of Topeka. My mom was very religious, and so she had me in the Methodist Church.
I was trying to learn about the Methodist Church, and then my cousin, he was in a Catholic Church. So, I was comparing his religion, the Catholic religion against the Methodist religion and their teachings, and I was going to parochial schools, as well back there. I was trying to get some kind of an understanding of why these religions are different. Why is the Methodist and Catholic churches — Why are they different in their teachings when they use the same Bibles? My mom said, “It doesn’t make any difference what religion you join, as long as you’re worshiping God.”
And then I knew that wasn’t — to me. That didn’t seem right.
Isaiah Malone: My family didn’t have much. We made do with what was coming in.
I’ve always wanted to be in the military in my life. I just didn’t know at one point when I wanted to join. I do want to serve my country. I want to be something, be a part of something much bigger than myself. I had a sense and understanding of who God was and that I needed His guidance in my life. And that no matter what, if I didn’t have Him in my life, then I would fail. I always knew there was much more out there in life. But my life got extremely difficult at one point where it felt unbearable, and so I made the decision to go into the military much sooner than expected.
I felt that satisfaction of being a part of something but there was still a hole, a void. I don’t know if it was in my heart, in my mind, or what else I was looking for. But I knew that there was a missing piece somewhere.
Terry Grant: It was back in 1968 when I joined the Navy. In the Navy, I started meeting people from other religions. The first religion that I met, they were Church Of Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I didn’t, I knew nothing about that religion. They weren’t really using the Bible. They were using the Book of Mormons. They have their own book that they were taking their teachings out of that was written by Joseph Smith. To me, that was wrong because the words of God are in the Bible, not in some other book. So, I stopped listening to the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
After I went away from the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, my next duty station was in Tennessee. Those areas that’s all Southern Baptist churches. After that, I didn’t start looking into religions anymore. I knew in my heart that after going to all these different religions and investigating all these different religions, I knew that there somewhere on this planet, I believe that there was a true religion. But, the problem is finding it. I mean, you got thousands of different churches out there. Well, where’s the right one? I even had someone tell me, “Well, religions are like going to the supermarket. So what do you do? Well, you just pick the one that you believe in or pick the one that you feel good in joining, and that has got to be the right one.”
But it didn’t really set good with me.
When you start looking at, “Well, are their teachings in the Bible?” Well, if they’re not in the Bible, I was thinking like, “Wow, that’s not right.”
If I didn’t find a true religion, it’d be like you’re going through life and it’s just like, “Okay, you’re here. Just do whatever you want. Just enjoy yourself, enjoy your life. And just follow the crowd like everybody else.”
Well, what’s, what’s the end gonna be? Because I’m wondering like, “Okay, well, what was the point of my life?” It’s like, “Yeah, you know, I’m here like I’m just gonna live and that’s it?” There has to be something else.
Voiceover: 50 years on from the time the Iglesia Ni Cristo first reached the USA, Iglesia Ni Cristo members from all over the country gathered at Sacramento’s Golden One Center to celebrate the success of the Church through a worship service to God. The brethren on this occasion were led by Brother Eduardo Manalo, the present Executive Minister of the Church.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: What’s the advantage of being in the Church Of Christ? Christ said, they’ll be saved. That’s why we have a blessed hope and bright future. But for people to be worthy of salvation, to have a blessed hope and bright future for their good, they have to enter the Church Of Christ for them to be saved.
That’s why we joined the Church Of Christ. We learned that in the Church we will receive God’s promised salvation. We should always focus on the value of our membership in the Church Of Christ. We should always focus on the value of our membership in the Church Of Christ. At the end of our journey is salvation on Judgement Day.
Terry Grant: When I got stationed in the Navy, I was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, and in Florida — they had a Church Of Christ in Jacksonville, Florida. But, I got to the point where I wasn’t really interested because I’d already investigated Catholic, Methodist, Church Of Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Baptists. I’m talking I investigated the top religions, most populous, strongest, biggest religions in the United States. I’ve already investigated [it]. And I knew that they weren’t the right religion. I wasn’t going to do it but then the deacons from the Church Of Christ were also inviting me and so I said, “Okay, fine. I’ll go to the Church Of Christ. I’ll go to your Church, and I’ll check it out.”
I believe that if you are teaching your religion to me, it better come from the Bible. And so when I told the head deacons in Florida, when they invited me, “I will know if your religion is a God or not. I will know that because it’ll be In the Bible and you’re not going to tell me any stories.” Because that’s what these other religions were doing. They were just telling me stories. They weren’t really using the Bible and I told him that. And then when I went to the worship service, and then a minister started preaching the words of God, and I noticed, he wasn’t telling a story.” Because I was expecting a story like the other religions do. So, he started asking questions, and he got straight from the Bible.
Well, like, “Well, this is different.” He never gave an opinion. It was straight out of the Bible. And I thought, “Wow, this is it.” I have never in my life, ever, been to a church, to a worship service, where specifically, you got the words of God straight out of the Bible.
No addition. No subtraction. No opinion. No storytelling. The very first worship service in Jacksonville, Florida, that’s when God called me.
Right after the worship service was over, I asked the Minister, “I want Bible studies now.” I knew right then and there that that was the true Church. I felt great, because I had been searching for so many religions, and finally, God called me. I didn’t have to go through thousands of religions anymore. At that time, He brought me to the right Church, and He called me. I felt great and I love it, and God-willing, I’ll never leave.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: That’s what we are always calling on all Church members to do — to be obedient to God’s will. If we obey, we are able to walk in God’s truth or ways. If so, we are certain of receiving salvation on Judgement Day. That’s why we should not forsake the worship service. It’s then that we are taught the truth. Each of us should fulfill, carry out, and obey what we hear in the worship services. However, to render the true worship, according to the Bible — not according to me — you need to be in the Church Of Christ.
Isaiah Malone: I found myself being angry with my situation because I was born into a family that didn’t have a lot, and instead of facing my problems like I should have, now that I think about it, I ran away from them and tried to join the military, and they still followed. It’s not that, like, they just went away. But, temporarily, I felt that I didn’t need to worry about them, but when I came back from training, they just were much stronger.
At that point, you take anything. I took any job that I could get a hold of. I was working for Walmart neighborhood market, I was working for them as a cashier. I was working there for about three or four months before I met a young man that came through my grocery line at the store.
And it makes me chuckle now because meeting him was the first turning point in which my situation completely changed. He was just picking up some groceries. We had small conversation and we were talking about the Bible a little bit — that conversation came up. He had invited me to a Bible study. I had nowhere else to go so I said, “There’s only one way to go in my life, and that’s up. So, I’ll try God first.”
I remember the first lesson that I actually had; it was the study of the Bible, and there were a lot of questions that were answered in that Bible study. And it intrigued me. It was a question and answer form. It’s not someone reading a couple of scriptures and stepping away from the Bible or closing it and then having a whole summary about their life. And to have the words of God be taught to me in such a way, I had to come back and figure out if there was anything else I was missing because you can’t go wrong if it’s coming directly from the Bible.
Voiceover: After going through the fundamental Bible studies on doctrine in the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Isaiah was baptized and became a member of the Church.
Isaiah Malone: There’s no doubt in my mind anymore that I do have God by my side because I know that I belong to Him now and that I am His child. And that I do have the right to serve and to pray to Him. I have the right to call Him my God.
I don’t know what purpose I would serve in a regular life without being a member.
Knowing that you mean something to God, I cannot see my life without the Church Of Christ.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: What should those who belong to God’s true nation be trained to do? Walk straight. Brethren, we need to be trained to walk righteously. That’s what God seeks from us if we want to be saved. A true Church Of Christ member should reject foolish stories. Such stories are not the basis of faith. The basis of faith is the truth from God. Brethren, if you will be told something that is different from the teachings we received, should we believe it? No. Such things disagree with the truth. So, we should not accept them.
Isaiah Malone: There are words in the Bible that say that’s going to happen. That says we will encounter people that are trying to take us away from God’s words, take us away from God’s promises. And that’s because they were living their life a certain way even though They knew the truth, and God basically gave up on them, after so many chances, gave them to a debased mind.
Terry Grant: If I were to encounter a detractor, if he tries to convince me to leave the Church Of Christ, well, even though he speaks well and eloquent and his words are really flowery and he tries taking the verses of the Bible and say, “Oh, no, this is the way it should be” and things like that, I just won’t listen to him. I look at the Church Of Christ today And since 1968 until now, in that short span of time, the Church Of Christ has reached 143 countries and territories, 133 different nationalities, and you look at that you say, “Oh, that can’t be the work of man. That’s the work of God.” And I know that I am a part of the fastest-growing Christian Church in the world today. There’s nothing that surpasses it and it’s all by the grace of God.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: According to the Apostles, “Don’t ever forget those early days when you first learned about Christ.” We also face heavy trials. We also encounter many persecutions. But, thanks to God, many Church Of Christ members never let go of their divine election. They also do not turn their backs on their membership in the Church Of Christ. That’s what God is telling us to do. Let us love our God-given election. Let us never let go of our membership in the Church Of Christ. Who can fulfill this? He who knows how to endure. In doing so, he strives to be victorious. He will not allow himself to be overcome by hindrances. He will do everything he can in order to uphold his service to God because he is focused on what he will inherit from God on Judgement Day.
Terry Grant: If I ever thought about going away from the Church Of Christ or turning away from the Church Of Christ, my conscience tells me, “Man, what are you doing? You know better than that.” I’ll start remembering the teachings that I’ve learned in the Church Of Christ. God-willing, I will never turn my back on God, I will never leave the Church Of Christ. I will never put it aside because I know that my salvation is in the Church Of Christ.
Then, you look at all the people of this world. God wants everybody to be saved. So, how are you going to reach out to all of these people? I started with my relatives, my mom and my dad and all my relatives, I started with them. I started with all of my workmates and classmates, and I’d invite them to Bible studies. And if I don’t do missionary work, if I don’t try to invite people, my conscience bothers me. It really does because I know as a member of the Church Of Christ, all these people need to be saved.
So you need to reach out to these people.
Voiceover: Like many members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Brother Terry shares his faith with people every day. He even advertises the official websites of the Iglesia Ni Cristo on his car, so as to reach out to as many people as possible. And every day more and more people are learning about the Iglesia Ni Cristo, especially through its socio-civic activities throughout the USA.
TV News Anchor: Members of a Church in Fremont provided a variety of free services to their community today. The Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ organized today’s event at Noll Park. It offers everything from clothing giveaways, to medical screening.
Anna Dieuveuil: The Church Of Christ brought the manpower, the people, the volunteers. And they were basically like the backbone of this entire project. So, I really do appreciate them.
Barbara Smith: I was very surprised to see how many from your Church was in Port Arthur to serve our community and I’m touched by that.
Cathey Barret: The Church of Christ has been wonderful. All their members have been so supportive. They’re definitely a Church that is community-minded, who wants to give back to the community. And we really appreciate all you’ve done.
Voiceover: Although the mission of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Far West started off small, the inevitability of its growth is clearly seen today. Yet one may wonder, “Why are its members so enthusiastic in not only remaining as of the Church but also in encouraging others to also join them?”
Isaiah Malone: There’s something that I’m chasing in the Church Of Christ that will last much longer than the opportunities that this life has to offer. It’s eternal life. We won’t have to worry about all the struggles that we’re experiencing now, all of the hardships that we go through on a daily basis, all of the trials that we encounter all the time. All that will cease. That won’t exist in the Holy City, which we’re striving for.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: Remember, God’s plan is for us to not be destroyed. God’s plan is for all to go well with us; for us to have a blessed hope and a bright future. Thus, we should love our membership in the Church Of Christ.
Executive News 2018