INC News World Year End Special
Church Of Christ impacts communities in need through the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation; People learn the truth through the INC; making a difference in 2019.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: This week on the 2019 Year In Review special episode of INC News World: see how the Church Of Christ impacted communities around the world; witness the victories of the Iglesia Ni Cristo as it expanded, reaching new places and new heights; relive the stories of how lives were changed; remember how activities in local congregations around the world brought us closer together; and congratulations to these members of the Church who made 2019 their best year ever. This special episode of INC News World starts now, as we say goodbye to 2019.
[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: INC NEWS WORLD 2019 YEAR END SPECIAL]
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: Welcome to INC News World, I’m Brother Michael Guerrero, coming to you from the INC Media Studios in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today is a special episode of INC News World as we look back at the Church Of Christ in 2019 including her victories and triumphs, the most heartwarming of which was the impact made on communities around the world. Our very own Naomi De La Cruz has this look back.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: It’s true that 2019 has proven to be the year that the Church Of Christ made an immense impact in communities around the world. There is a long history of humanitarian projects from Lingap sa Mamamayan in the Philippines, to eco-farms in Africa. But 2019 was the year that the Church’s Aid to Humanity events became even more global with multiple national tours, and immediate relief to the year’s most tragic disasters.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: It’s the autumn of 2019 and Hurricane Dorian is making landfall in the Bahamas.
ABC NEWS REPORTER: The most powerful storm ever recorded to strike the island nation.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: But right behind the storm, came the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, the humanitarian arm of the Church Of Christ which responds in the face of natural disasters and aims to stamp out poverty across the globe by distributing disaster relief parcels as well as food and hygiene packs during Aid to Humanity events—all part of its mission to contribute to the creation of peaceful and productive communities.
VIDEO PRESENTATION NARRATOR: The Church maintains more than 7,000 local congregations and missions in more than 150 countries and territories in 6 continents all over the world.
MARSHA MCQUEEN (ADMINISTRATOR – COASTLINE COMMUNITY CARE NURSING HOME – NASSAU, BAHAMAS): I’m impressed, like really really impressed. Because I knew nothing about that magnitude. And the work that was being done, and is being done, it is like, you know, you are living the Bible, literally living the Bible. I’m really impressed.
LOCAL RESIDENT (RECIPIENT – NASSUA, BAHAMAS): Thank you for all you have done for us. And whatever else you can do for others, it’s wonderful, made by God. We really appreciate it.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And do for others, is what the FYM Foundation continued to do in 2019: through the fires in California; the floods in Ottawa; through the streets of Guatemala; all the way to the east of India.
VEERU MAMA (RESIDENT – VISAKHAPATNAM, INDIA): People, poor and needy people, all getting this kind of relief and I’m really very excited and really very happy.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Almost 30,000 care packages were distributed during the Aid to Humanity tour across India.
RECIPIENTS: Thank you very much Church Of Christ!
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: The efforts were also in full swing throughout the Spring of 2019 across Canada.
KEVIN LAMOUREAUX (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR WINNIPEG NORTH, HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA): The Church Of Christ has demonstrated such strong leadership in caring for people, helping people that need the help. And it’s not just here in the core of the north end of Winnipeg, they do that around the world.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: The Canadian Aid to Humanity Tour was a series of 6 cities, which resulted in 7,000 care packages distributed to help fight poverty across Canada which included assistance to new immigrants and First Nation peoples.
JACKLINE SARRAH KAYITESI (RESIDENT – TORONTO, CANADA): And the love I got from this place when I reached here, it’s amazing.
RICK WILSON (MINISTER OF INDIGENOUS RELATIONS – ALBERTA, CANADA): The people of Maskawacis are so grateful. I wanted to say thank you so much. Thank you for all your people and all of your volunteers.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: 36 local organizations received monetary donations to support the work they do across Canada.
MARIE-CLAUDE BARIBEAU (MONTREAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION): Without your help and without everybody, each member of the Foundation, we wouldn’t be where we are today. You’re helping us and the kids, and their parents make it a better world. And we thank you so much.
MICHAEL LEVITT (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR YORK CENTRE, HOUSE OF COMMONS CANADA): When I first learned of this event and the impact that it’s having, not just in our community, not just here in North York, not just in the GTA, but across the country. The Aid for Humanity Tour, I was so proud to be asked to attend this evening. Because this event represents the very best of our community.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: The summer of 2019 saw another Aid to Humanity Tour, this time across a nation that many in the world assume is the last place you’d find those in dire need—in 9 cities across America.
MARK TANIS (PITKIN AVENUE BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT – BROWNSVILLE, NEW YORK): Thank you. I am so overwhelmed right now, and so flabbergasted. I’m lost for words but you know what, it’s a gift from God from up above.
SHANA BECKWITH (DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM INSTRUCTION – STEM PASS INNOVATION NETWORK – SEATTLE, WASHINGTON): Giving away bags of necessities for everyone. Our organization received a check, which is amazing. I don’t think people even realize what we can do with $5,000.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: In total, it was dozens of organizations that received tens of thousands of dollars in donations, in addition to the countless thousands of families who received immediate relief across America. But that wasn’t even the largest FYM Foundation event of the year. With the added resource of medical screenings, the Lingap sa Mamamayan held at the Philippine Arena, with untold thousands in attendance, kicked off a Worldwide Aid to Humanity series.
EVELYN NAMNUK (GARMENT FACTORY WORKER – QWAQWA, SOUTH AFRICA): I’m very thankful. I can’t even describe it, how thankful I am.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: It’s a sense of thankfulness that spanned the globe in 2019, as a reflection of the impact these events have had on our world.
SARAH RUFFCORN (RESIDENT – ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS): I would say thank you because I don’t think you know that, how much it does help. Because a lot of these families they don’t have nothing.
MICHAEL LEVITT (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR YORK CENTRE, HOUSE OF COMMONS CANADA): Each and every one of you that participates in an event like this that joins together with the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, you are teaching the lesson of giving. Because there is no more important lesson than giving back to those who are not as fortunate.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Another humanitarian effort of the Church Of Christ is the INC Giving Project, which aims to promote acts of kindness and to do good whenever we possibly can. 2019 marked the project’s 8th year and the impact it continues to have seems to grow every year.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: From making sure the communities immediately surrounding houses of worship are well taken care of,
SYLVAN DE LA CRUZ (COMMUNITY ORGANIZER OF THE 13TH DISTRICT – CITY OF LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA): I’d like to commend Iglesia Ni Cristo for your service to the historic Filipinotown Community.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ (CONTINUED): to stepping out and helping broader populations, the INC Giving Project has inspired local congregations around the world to partner with grassroots organizations to inspire good. From Neighborhood Appreciation Days to medical missions, showing appreciation to police and fire department personnel.
SARGEANT LEM SAINSANOY (SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT): Thank you for doing this, because it means a lot to the San Diego Police Department.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Teacher Appreciation events,
STUDENT: Thank you because you taught me everything I know.
ALESSIA MERCURI (ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER – ROME, ITALY): For me it was a wonderful experience, it never happened to me so it’s awesome.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ (CONTINUED): free food and free clothing provided at events, and to organizations in the communities. The project is all inclusive under its motto and the Biblical verse to “do good whenever we can”. At the heart of the INC Giving Project is individual people, and individual acts of kindness.
GREGORY CHARLES DUNSTIN (RESIDENT – OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA): When we met Gilbert we used to be homeless. We used to hang out all day by the restaurant he works at. He would always make sure that we had enough to eat and that we were well taken care of.
TATANISH WILSON (RESIDENT – OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA): We got a lot of things. I got to get my blood pressure done, my glucose, and make sure I don’t have diabetes.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: It was in Seattle, Washington that the atmosphere of giving and the use of technology to share our faith collided in 2019. Free food and entertainment for the entire community to enjoy – but also the chance to be a studio audience member in live recordings.
GUEST: INCMX has been one of the best shows that I’ve seen so far that have really inspired me.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Through all these events the goal and aim has remained the same: to inspire, to strengthen, and to bring closer to God.
REBECCA SALDANA (STATE SENATOR – WASHINGTON): And that you are about welcoming the community and being part of the community. It is really essential. That’s what I felt about this experience. This is a really great neighbor that are a good faith community and a good neighbor. And I think that really matters.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: So profound were the effects of the humanitarian work of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in 2019, that cities which received assistance during the U.S. Aid to Humanity tour declared dates in 2019 to be official Felix Y. Manalo Foundation Days.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: In response to the Aid to Humanity event that was held in Rockford , Illinois, just outside of Chicago, the Mayor of the city asked FYM Foundation representatives to return to Rockford for a very special announcement.
THOMAS MCNAMARA (MAYOR – CITY OF ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS): Now therefore, I Thomas McNamara, as Mayor of the City of Rockford do hereby proclaim, a little bit late, August 25th 2019, FYM Foundation Day.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And in response to the Aid to Humanity event that was held at the San Carlos Reservation, the nearby city of Globe, Arizona was next to recognize and declare FYM Foundation Day.
AL GAMEROS (MAYOR – CITY OF GLOBE, ARIZONA): And whereas the FYM Foundation Aid to Humanity outreach program, held on August 20th, 2019 in San Carlos, Arizona distributed goodwill bags and school supplies to the citizens and children of the San Carlos Reservation in addition to monetary donations given to local agencies.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: The proclamation was followed by the City of Oakland, California.
LIBBY SCHAAF (MAYOR – CITY OF OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA): I, Libby Schaaf, Mayor of the City of Oakland, hereby recognize and honor the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation for their dedicated and tireless devotion to not only Oakland’s community but communities all over the world. And now therefore be it proclaimed that August 18th, 2019 was Felix Y. Manalo Foundation Day.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: At each location ministers representing the FYM Foundation were there to accept the proclamations, and to also acknowledge the historic contexts of these events.
BROTHER EDUARDO JAVIER (MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL): This proclamation FYM Foundation Day will be part of the Iglesia Ni Cristo history as we celebrate the 105th anniversary of the Church and as we celebrate the 10th Year Anniversary of our Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. More power to the city of Rockford, Illinois.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And as the Church celebrates its strengthened relationships with communities around the world.
[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: INC NEWS WORLD 2019 YEAR END SPECIAL]
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: There would never be enough time to cover every impact that the Church Of Christ has had throughout 2019. There are countless individuals and communities which are entering 2020 with resources they might not have had, with new friendships they’ve found this year, but most importantly with a stronger faith and a brighter outlook on life, brought to them by the Church Of Christ.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: 2019 was a year of expansions within the Church Of Christ. The growth took many forms, from Ecclesiastical Districts to purchased houses of worship. Michael Robinson has the details.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: With answers of relief expanding to those in need are the places you can find the Church Of Christ. Whether in cities or villages, the presence of the Church Of Christ is becoming even more known. Growth in Ecclesiastical Districts like in Latin America and the United States and when we see growth in districts, we see growth in congregations. Whether extensions, group worship services or local congregations it doesn’t matter if it’s a big city or remote area, the Church has truly seen growth on both ends in this year of 2019.
NANA BAFFOUR II (VICE PRESIDENT OF ABEASE TRADITIONAL COUNCIL – ABEASE, GHANA): I’m very happy that the Church is here. It is my desire that the Church will be here and grow bigger.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: Ghana is one of the remote areas reached by the Church Of Christ due to its nonstop propagational efforts to all regions of the globe.
Not just reaching remote areas but also big cities like in Calgary, Canada that have witnessed the sprouting of local congregations of the Church Of Christ. From August to September alone, 10 new local congregations, group worship services, and extensions have been established in the district of Calgary.
COY MAKI (DOCTRINAL INSTRUCTEE – THREE HILLS, ALBERTA): I’m amazed with how the Church is because I see lots of other churches shut down in other religions and ours is just growing and growing.
THOMAS RUSSELL (INC MEMBER – HERITAGE PARK, CANADA): From what I see today, I mean there’s thousands of members and there so many locales and so many group worship services. I mean, it has to be the work of the Almighty.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: All these part of the 288 local congregations, extensions and group worship services that have been established worldwide in the Church Of Christ for the year 2019. And in order to further care and oversee the many added congregations, the Church Administration has also established new Ecclesiastical Districts in the Church. For the year 2019, 11 new districts have been established.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: With congregations growing in number, so is the need for having a place of worship or house of worship. This edifice plays a vital role in the life of a Church Of Christ member. Whether building from ground up new chapels or purchasing formerly used chapels that go through renovations to become suitable and solemn places for Church Of Christ members to worship. The joy a member feels when they are blessed with a permanent place they can always go to worship is also an overwhelming feeling that impacts the community it has made a home to.
[NEWS JAX 4]: The largest footprints in downtown Jacksonville is about to change. First Baptist Church of Jacksonville has plans to reduce its downtown buildings from ten city blocks to just one. The oldest building, built in 1904. This building you see right here. This building along with the one connected to it…
MICHAEL ROBINSON: It’s not unusual nowadays that different religions are seeing a decline in their membership. This unfortunate circumstance is forcing chapels to go up for sale as was done with a Baptist church in Lakeland, Florida.
SOPHIA RENAE AUSTIN (OWNER’S DAUGHTER – NEW DREAMS AND VISIONS MINISTRIES): It’s kind of sad because like I said, all my businesses were here and it was just like my second home. This is where I was always at.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: A second home for Sophia and Lilly, her mother who owned this chapel located on Massachusetts Avenue and Peachtree, in Lakeland, Florida. A chapel used not only for their worship but a service provider to the community. But even as a community leader, Sophia and her mom, Lilly, found it hard to continue in maintaining the needs of the 10,000 square foot property. And because of this, Sophia and her mom sold the property to the Church Of Christ. And the reason the Church Of Christ continues to buy formerly used chapels and properties is because of its ever growing membership. Amongst the numerous properties purchased by the Church just this year alone are: Winnipeg, Manitoba,
BROTHER SIDNEY SANTOS (DISTRICT SUPERVISING MINISTER): And to finally have another house of worship here in the heart of Winnipeg. A few minutes away from the airport. Right near the center of everything. It is truly a blessing from our Lord God.
MICHAEL ROBINSON (CONTINUED): Scotland, United Kingdom,
WINNIE LAING (RESIDENT – PAISLEY, SCOTLAND): I think it’s a lovely new start for this building which means so much to our members. And obviously another start for you in Scotland.
MICHAEL ROBINSON (CONTINUED): Swift Current, Manitoba,
CHERYLL OLEDAN (REALTOR – SWIFT CURRENT, CANADA): I feel that this will be a good place for worship and I will be always proud that I sold this property to Iglesia Ni Cristo.
MICHAEL ROBINSON (CONTINUED): and Louisville, Kentucky.
ROSALY SOUTH (PIONEER MEMBER -LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY): This is it. This is ours. This is the chapel and it’s finally happening.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: And the Church Of Christ is unceasing in the renovating and building of new houses of worship. Whether in large cities or remote areas just like in QwaQwa, South Africa. The house of worship in QwaQwa is amongst the 120 houses of worship that have been dedicated to the Lord God for the year 2019. Some even officiated by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ.
PHILIPPE PICHON (INC MEMBER – VALD’OISE, FRANCE): This house of worship will serve as a beacon to make the Church Of Christ known in this part of the world.
MICHAEL ROBINSON: From big countries to remote islands throughout the world, the Church Of Christ’s intensive expansion has reached over 150 countries and over 120 nationalities and ethnicities. With more congregations being added by the week and more formerly owned chapels being purchased, the Church Of Christ continues to bring its doors even closer to all communities, neighborhoods in knowing about the truth and inviting more and more people to take the opportunity to accept the invitation of the Church Of Christ. And that’s to listen and learn what is taught in the Bible.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: As we look back to the biggest stories of 2019, the end result of the Church’s extensive efforts on so many fronts are the number of people joining the Church and have reached the day of their holy baptism. Shannon Santamaria has all the insights on the many people who received the greatest blessing of their life in 2019.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Throughout this year a series of baptisms took place and tens of thousands of people were added into the Church and all of those newly baptized have their inspiring stories. Today we’ve brought to you a few of the most inspiring stories of 2019 that have made an impact on the viewers.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Thousands of miles away from Sierra Leone, in West Africa, but He decided to share his faith online which resulted in something amazing.
ALLAN SISON (INC MEMBER – BUENA PARK, CALIFORNIA): There’s more ways to really bring them the true Gospel like the technology, the Facebook, you see messenger, you can video call and when they see that, you did your job. You did your job and let God do His part to touch their heart.
BROTHER MOISES CAAMPUED (MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL): They felt compelled to learn more about the Church since they were seeing that the doctrine was being read from the Bible. So Brother Davidson Conte and his congregation not only listened to the word of God but they also shared what they heard with their families and their loved ones.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And in October 2019 hundreds of people from Sierra Leone were baptized in the Church Of Christ. All who’ve learned about the true teachings found in the Bible and it all started from a simple click of a button. Davidson Conteh, a former Protestant preacher, became curious about the Church Of Christ which Allan introduced to him. He and hundreds of his church members started to learn about the truth. As a result, ministers in the Church Of Christ were sent to Sierra Leone to preach and soon crowds grew and the missionary work became extensive in this part of the world. And the truth continues to be heard by more people in West Africa.
Now we head to Edmonton, Canada where another memorable baptism was held and among those baptized was Trever. But before receiving his baptism Trever’s experienced the hardest of problems.
BRENDA THOMPSON: He was homeless actually. So, I’m very thankful.
TREVER’S SISTER: Look where we are now, it’s all thanks to God.
TREVER THOMPSON: For the last like 20 years really. It’s only been like 16 months that I’ve been clean.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Fighting drug addiction, avoiding homeless, experiencing problems in life coupled with his curiosity about the chapel in his neighborhood, gave him the opportunity to learn about the Church Of Christ. And one day, Trevor noticed a bible study open for everyone, which peaked his interest.
TREVER THOMPSON (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – EDMONTON, CANADA): So I came in and then I could hear somebody teaching or preaching right? At the time I just stood there listening before I even walked in. I didn’t even want anybody to know I was here because I had been to so many churches already.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And after learning the truth and completing Bible study as well as all the requirements for new members, he received the holy baptism and a new perspective in life.
TREVER THOMPSON (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – EDMONTON, CANADA): It’s given me a new outlook on life, right. Something to live for.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And with him witnessing his baptism was his mother who’s seen his life change since learning the truth.
BRENDA THOMPSON: So thankful to God that my son is baptized and I just can’t believe where we are right now. I’m just so thankful. Praise God! Very good day.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Inspired by his life changing decision were his mother and sister who were later baptized also into the Church Of Christ. They saw how the truth can inspire those to live a Christian life.
In Indiana, we meet Michael Beck, a former baptist preacher himself, who comes from a family of preachers. Searching for the truth in his former faith left him empty handed, until he found the Church Of Christ.
MICHAEL BECK, JR. (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – FORMER PASTOR IN BAPTIST CHURCH): One of the things that interested me in Iglesia Ni Cristo was that the fact that the doctrines were stated more clearly for me. During the 28 doctrinal, fundamental doctrinal meetings that I had helped me to understand more fully the doctrines of the Bible and I felt the holy spirit teaching me, leading me to Iglesia Ni Cristo.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And after thoroughly studying the doctrines in the Church Of Christ. He was finally able to receive his holy baptism.
MICHAEL BECK, JR. (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – FORMER PASTOR IN BAPTIST CHURCH): It’s overwhelming that the Almighty God hears and answers our prayer. As I live the life that God has called me to live I can do propagation and hopefully bring others to the knowledge of the truth through Iglesia Ni Cristo.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And now he wants to share the truth with as many people as possible.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: This year the Church commemorated the 10th anniversary of Brother Eduardo V. Manalo’s dynamic leadership on September 7, 2019. And on that day thousands of people were baptized inside the Church Of Christ from the Philippine Arena and all over the world.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: This day was a special day for thousands of people. All finally receiving their baptism after learning the truth.
ALIGULA KENYANI (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – FORMER MINISTER OF NON DENOMINATIONAL CHURCH): Only one God. Wherein the previous religion you are taught that there’s a God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And regardless of what religion they came from or where they’re from they all learned the same doctrinal teachings, the truth, in the Church Of Christ and they all felt that same feeling upon receiving their baptism.
RICHARD HARTWICK (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – TORONTO, CANADA): This is an experience that I’ll never, ever, experience ever again.
BOSCO GUTIERREZ (NEWLY BAPTIZED MEMBER – TORONTO, CANADA): To be plunged in the water, it’s an experience that we all carry within ourselves. We take it to our hearts, and we leave it in our minds.
BRYANT WORKMAN (CANDIDATE FOR BAPTISM – NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA): Being Baptized in the same place which is the true representation is that there are a thousand likeminds that understand who Christ is, what Christ’s mission was and where He’s operating and that’s from this Church. I think people being gathered anywhere is monumental, but for the sake of Christ is really that thing that makes this so grand for me.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: This Baptism was conducted in different Ecclesiastical Districts all over the world, and the main venue was the Philippine Arena, the world’s biggest indoor arena, this event was so grand that it received a Guiness World Record for the most people baptized in one place.
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS REPRESENTATIVE: This is a very impressive and powerful day to bear witness to two of them. I think you’re ready for the final result. Aren’t we? The minimum requirement for this record is 200. But, I can now confirm, for “The Most People Baptized”, you have set a new Guiness World Record title with 18,272. Congratulations, you are officially amazing!
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: It is definitely a humbling honor to know that the efforts of the Church Of Christ to spread the words of God are noticed and acknowledged in a public way. But for these new members what was more important for them was receiving the truth, their new found purpose, and to finally be able to serve the Almighty God.
SHANNON SANTAMARIA: People from different cultures, lifestyles and places all receiving the true teachings found only inside the Church Of Christ. These were just some of the inspiring stories from baptisms throughout the year that we’ve shared with you today.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: Throughout the year the Christian Family Organizations have remained strong, holding events in local congregations and internationally. From music events to sports events, and gatherings to keep our faith strong. The events were constant and inspiring. Stacy Larkin has a look back at some of the highlights.
STACY LARKIN: Along with the rapid growth of the Church Of Christ is the care and concern for the faith of its members. One of the ways the Church Administration shows their care is through the Christian Family Organizations, or CFO. In 2019, we witnessed many activities that not only strengthened the faith of members and brought happiness, but also provided opportunities to share their faith.
STACY LARKIN: One of the many activities launched by the Church Administration under the CFO is INCenterstage, giving those with interests in stage production, writing, and acting the opportunity to express themselves and showcase their talents.
BRIAN RAMIREZ (ACTOR – SURREY, CANADA): We had a ton of rehearsals. We had a lot of months of remembering lines, practicing together, getting cues together. It was a challenge, but we overcame it together.
LORDWIN SORIANO (GUEST – LONDON): I found the play very eye-opening for myself, I guess. Because it made me see why I should not go down that route even though how low I get. The youth are trying to take shortcuts in life to make some easy money and that. So, I guess, try not to turn to the evil side.
P.J. TANICALA (PERFORMER – COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO): I like singing as a hobby already so when you get the chance to do what you love, not just for to edify the brethren but to edify yourself as well, and to celebrate.
STACY LARKIN: Music was also used by the Church Administration to share the words of God.
TORY (STUDENT – BRONX COMMUNITY COLLEGE): It’s a great thing to come here and see a diverse group of people striving to work hard you know, preaching the word of God on a Sunday, this was a great event they should have more like it.
FREDA (EMPLOYEE OF BRONX COMMUNITY COLLEGE): And this was so beautiful, it really was, it really was.
STACY LARKIN: To bring families even closer, the Church Of Christ held formals for Buklod (married members) and KADIWA (members who are single, 18 years old and above) as well as gatherings for Binhi (youth whose age is 12-17).
LAWRENCE SINGIAN (KADIWA OFFICER & CHOIR MEMBER – NORTH SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA): While going through college the main thing that I always just kept in my heart and my mind is that as long as you put your duty first and put God first, then everything else will follow.
STACY LARKIN: While emphasizing the importance of maintaining the spiritual lives of members, the Church Administration also understands the importance of strengthening the physical body, through activities like Unity Games.
ALYSSA-GENE DEATO (INC MEMBER – WALDORF, MARYLAND): This was the first time that I actually ran in track and field. It was really hard, but I have to say that it was really fun and exhilarating.
POTLAKO SEKOKOTANA (INC MEMBER – SWARTKLIP, SOUTH AFRICA): For me being here with my family it is another way of spending time together as a family, spending time with our fellow brethren and it’s just amazing to be here and take part in this activity.
BROTHER DON SANTOS (DISTRICT SUPERVISING MINISTER): Win. But most of all we must all win by exemplifying our unity.
STACY LARKIN: To see the unity inside the Church, as well as learning about the true faith, one of those who decided to learn more about the Church Of Christ was the dance group FMD, when they were introduced to the Church through Unity Games.
RIZZA CARGANILLA (FMD EXTREME DANCE GROUP MEMBER): One of our housemates is a kapatid, is a brother of INC and then—not in the plan—we went for a Bible study, and what one or 2, the 2nd Bible study there are 4, the 3rd Bible study we’re all together already and the 4th, the 5th, the succeeding ones, all of us are joining. I think it’s the plan of God.
BROTHER ANDREW FISHER (MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL): They actually went onto INC Media and on the different official websites of the Church, and they heard the track, “United With The Church Administration.” They approached me, and they asked if it’s OK that they choreograph a dance number to perform, as part of their recognition, and appreciation for the love that they felt since they began the process of joining the Church Of Christ.
RIZZA CARGANILLA (FMD EXTREME DANCE GROUP MEMBER): It’s the way of God to introduce the INC, the faith and all, because dance made the way for us.
[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: INC NEWS WORLD 2019 YEAR END SPECIAL]
STACY LARKIN: Also launched this year were conferences to all the more bring together members of the Christian Family Organizations. One of the highlights was the International KADIWA Conference.
STACY LARKIN: In the Church Of Christ, KADIWA stands for Kabataang May Diwang Wagas or Youth With Noble Intent. The first ever International KADIWA Conference between California and the Philippines, was held for members of this organization.
RICHIE FERRERA (INC MEMBER – EAGLE ROCK, CALIFORNIA): We were brought to many landmarks; from the Philippine Arena, to the chapel at Ciudad De Victoria, to the very first chapel in Punta, to Brother Felix Y. Manalo’s birth place in Tipas.
MICHELLE PEREDO (INC MEMBER – BURLINGAME, CALIFORNIA): It was just very humbling and awe inspiring to be where the reestablishment of the Church happened.
STACY LARKIN: Church officers are made up of volunteers who take on various responsibilities during worship services, maintain leadership roles in family organizations, in missionary work and other undertakings of the Church. They help the Church Administration in caring for the spiritual welfare of its members. In order to do so they are one of the first to be spiritually strengthened. That is why, through the leadership of Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, an International Officers Conference was held in the Philippine Arena as the main venue, with congregations throughout the world also connecting live.
SOPHIA ESPIRITU (CHOIR MEMBER – BELLMORE, NEW YORK): Our Almighty God gives us all great opportunities and we have to go and take the chance of listening to the preaching of the Gospel especially when this particular lesson targets the officers. Since it targets us, it’s very important for us to listen to it, despite the sacrifices.
[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: INC NEWS WORLD 2019 YEAR END SPECIAL]
STACY LARKIN: With so many activities throughout this past year, members around the world were given countless opportunities to express themselves through arts and cinema, spend time strengthening friendships, as well as strengthening their faith inside the Church Of Christ.
[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: INC NEWS WORLD 2019 YEAR END SPECIAL]
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: The great victories of the Church this year have been so grand, that they can’t be ignored. But just as inspiring are the victories that the members of the Church Of Christ have experienced and achieved in their personal lives, all through God’s guidance. Throughout the year, it was great to get a glimpse of these stories. Richie Ferrera has some of our favorites.
RICHIE FERRERA: In as much as 2019 was a huge year filled with blessings of victories for the whole Church, members of the Church Of Christ from around the world experienced these blessings even in their personal lives. And here on INC News World, we had a chance to learn about and be uplifted by those stories.
RICHIE FERRERA: Stories like that of Sophia, who was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare brain cancer at the age of 9. But her condition didn’t hinder her from doing good to others.
SOPHIA ESPIRITU: I really wanted to do something special this year.
RICHIE FERRERA: So for her 10th birthday, Sophia started a fundraiser that would eventually raise enough to give over 700 port shirts to help lighten the chemotherapy experience for young cancer patients. Every package given also included a God’s Message magazine and incmedia cards.
SOPHIA ESPIRITU: I think that it is a privilege to be a Choir Member and be able to lead the children and sing hymns of praises to our Almighty God.
RICHIE FERRERA: While Sophia continued to give out shirts throughout 2019, her drive to prioritize and share her faith persisted.
RICHIE FERRERA: Though diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, Russel would greatly defy expectations in 2019, creating a short animation entitled “The Notebook” which would win Best Short Film and Best Writing at the Doppelganger Film Festival.
RUSSEL HARO: Animation has a big contribution to teaching us life morals in the most clearest and enjoyable way possible.
RICHIE FERRERA: While film and animation has been a big aspect in his life, Russel finds more meaning in using it to share what’s most important to him; his faith inside the Church Of Christ.
RUSSEL HARO: I have a passion for animation and who knows, maybe I have it for like a certain reason, spread the message. I guess He really does have big plans.
JARED AND LANCE MOJICA: We love to paint. And we love to play Mario Kart, to hug each other.
RICHIE FERRERA: Jared and Lance may seem like your average kids, but 2019 was a very special year for the both of them, landing roles in an internationally acclaimed play. As excited as they may have been for their performance, Jared and Lance were even more eager to tell others about their faith.
JARED AND LANCE MOJICA: We shared our faith with the Miss Saigon cast.
RICHIE FERRERA: While these individuals had such unique life circumstances, instead of forgetting their faith, faith was what they drew purpose and motivation from, and made it a priority to share it. What these outstanding individuals have in common is that they are all young. And to hear stories like these coming from the youth is simply uplifting.
RICHIE FERRERA (CONTINUED): It’s for a similar reason that we were moved by the story of Sarah Pasion who has dedicated her life to educating and inspiring the youth.
ANNOUNCER: The 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year is Sarah Pasion.
RICHIE FERRERA: After being awarded teacher of the year in Duval County, Florida a window was open for everyone to see the faith that fueled her drive.
NEWS4JAK: So why do you think you were chosen as a finalist?
SARAH PASION: Well I think I go above and beyond my regular duties as a teacher. And also an active member of our Church. Which aims to render my service as a secretary. And also we have this program called Aid For Humanity, that gives help to in-need people, all around the world. So as a teacher you have to be a well rounded individual.
RICHIE FERRERA: Sarah may be an inspiration to her class, but her story is an inspiration to us all. And so are all of yours! Throughout 2019 we’ve also seen the personal achievements you’ve shared on social media, and it caught our attention here on INC News World.
Like April Noska from Montclair, California: a loving wife, mother of two, and as of this year, a first time weightlifting champion, garnering 1st place at the Masters World Cup San Diego.
And this year was also a big one for Herbert Cruz; a martial arts instructor, and an officer in the Church Of Christ in North Hollywood, California. Herbert went on this year to win bronze at the World Jiu Jitsu Championship.
Surrounded by the support of her countrymen and her brethren, Ryssa Sanchez contributed a silver medal to the total 20 medals that the Philippine Arnis team would achieve at this year’s Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippine Arena.
Also at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games was Deanne Moncada who along with her team hauled in four gold medals for the 400m mixed team obstacle course racing competition. Deanne shares one of the things that pushes her to not only be a better athlete but a better person.
DEANNE MONCADA: I am a teacher in the Children’s Worship Service, and it means a lot to me to have an office in the Church to perform because I know it helps me be closer to God. And I know if we’re teaching the kids, it pushes us to be better examples; doing the things we teach the youth to do, especially when it comes to prayerfulness and faithfulness to God.
RICHIE FERRERA: Some of these stories and the people we’ve highlighted today may be familiar. But what isn’t as well known are the people behind the news.
RICHIE FERRERA: Our camera operators, writers, transcribers, editors, and many more District Multimedia volunteers from around the world who persistently and resourcefully connected us through the incredible stories they dedicated themselves to share with the world. Behind every story were sleepless nights, great distances traveled, and many sacrifices made; these are the Multimedia volunteers from across the globe.
RICHIE FERRERA: On behalf of the INC News World team, we thank all of our amazing District Multimedia volunteers behind the stories that moved us throughout 2019.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: As we look back at 2019 we’re thankful that God has been with His Church, and with each of us. Through the victories and through the stories, we’ve each seen God’s hand at work here in the Church Of Christ. That does it for us on INC News World. Keep tuning in every Friday in 2020 for new episodes of INC News World on incmedia.org. I’m Brother Michael Guerrero and on behalf of the entire INC News World team, thank you for joining us throughout 2019, have a great weekend and
STUDIO STAFF FROM AROUND THE WORLD: Happy New Year!