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Millennial Seeks True Religion in Florida

With the help of a long-time friend, a millennial in Florida embarks on a journey in search of true faith; volunteers plant trees in New Jersey; INC is recognized by the Canadian Blood Services.

Millennial Seeks True Religion in Florida

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RICHIE FERRERA: In the continuation of this week’s episode of INC News World: in Florida, a millennial denies the trends of his generation; and in New Jersey, planting trees to improve the environment and the neighborhood; Canadian Blood Services honors a group of loyal blood donors. Your INC News World starts now. 

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RICHIE FERRERA: Welcome back to INC News World, I’m Richie Ferrera, coming to you from Anaheim, California, as we continue this week’s episode. Studies are showing that involvement in religion is decreasing amongst millenials in America. 

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The American Worldview Inventory 2021 reported that 43% of millennials ‘don’t know, don’t care, don’t believe’ God exists. ChristianPost.com 

RICHIE FERRERA: But for one millennial in Florida that wanted to reconnect with God, the pieces slowly came together through an online search and the help of a close friend. Audrey Rosal has the story. 

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DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): Almost ten years without going to church and worshipping so and I knew I needed that back in my life.

AUDREY ROSAL: A resident in Sanford, Florida, Daniel had hopes of reconnecting with his spiritual side as a once-practicing Methodist, it was at the beginning of his studies for nursing that changed his priorities. 

DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): I guess when I started going to college, we’re creatures of habit so I thought about going a couple of times but before long out of sight out of mind.

AUDREY ROSAL: And while focusing on his professional career, something came his way that would mark the beginning of bringing him back to where he wanted to be in his spiritual life.

DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): Yeah, we were giving a report and at the end of the shift you just gave a report to the next nurse. She was the next nurse coming and I don’t know how this came up. I don’t remember. Yeah, obviously it was off topic but somehow she brought up her Church, Iglesia Ni Cristo. 

AUDREY ROSAL: Daniel then reconnected with an old friend.

DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): I talked to Brant after that, Brother Brant. He was an old friend of mine going back to high school. He was the only person I knew that was in the Church.

AUDREY ROSAL: A reconnection that led to Brant and the beginning of a journey to the truth for Daniel.

BRANT GATOS (INC MEMBER – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): So it was a real shock to hear from him after all that time and especially being about the INC. So, he had the link for incmedia.org already but he asked where he could get more information. But I told him he could also look on YouTube, there’s a bunch of videos on there. But on incmedia.org, there are a ton of links that he could access. 

AUDREY ROSAL: incmedia.org, a website of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church Of Christ geared towards introducing the fundamental teachings of the Church. Content regarding God’s words written in the Bible addressing different topics and questions where people are looking for answers regarding faith and religion. Daniel connected with one particular section that would help in his journey to the truth.

DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): I went on the website reading the belief section. It seemed like a perfect match for me. It’s the strict word, the word of God and that is what we should believe in. That part specifically really stuck with me. 

AUDREY ROSAL: With Brant’s help, Daniel took the next step in learning more about the true faith. 

DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): Brother Brant connected me with Brother Felix, the minister of the Sanford chapel and from there, we started doing Bible studies. He was very flexible with me with my schedule. He would do personal one-on-one Bible studies all the time, it was very great. 

AUDREY ROSAL: All happening while working nights as a nurse, caring for COVID patients and dealing with staff that had left, giving Daniel a more hectic schedule. This made his motivation even clearer to why he wanted to join the true faith.

DANIEL JOHNSON (RESIDENT – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): So we would have services at 8:30 or 9am so I would get home at like 8:30, login to worship service on Webex. Do service, eat and go to bed basically right after. Sometimes I would have to go to the 5:30 service. Sometimes I would have to go to the evening service. I mean, I believe what they’re teaching and that is why it’s important for me to become a member of the Church. I mean this is the true Church. Yeah, of course I want to be a part of it.

AUDREY ROSAL: And after months of patience and endurance, that day arrived in Orlando, Florida through a special worship service officiated by the District Supervising Minister, Brother Marlone Balason. Daniel remembering what he received through becoming a member of the true Church Of Christ. 

DANIEL JOHNSON (INC MEMBER – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): We live in a lot of uncertainty. You don’t know what the next day is going to bring. How safe that will be, I think it’s really important to have the hope of the Church and the promise of salvation.

BROTHER MARLONE BALASON (DISTRICT SUPERVISING MINISTER – FLORIDA): Because of the presence of the Church online and on social media, like Daniel, many people are able to learn about the Church, to find out about the truth taught inside the Church Of Christ. And many more people throughout the whole world will be able to have that hope to be with us in our true service to God and the hope to one day receive the promised salvation.

BRANT GATOS (INC MEMBER – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): The Church gave me all the tools necessary to be able to take advantage of being in this position where somebody reached out to me and I was able to provide everything that he needed to start his journey.

AUDREY ROSAL: The impact of simply sharing the truth like what had happened with Daniel and led him online to incmedia.org. 

DANIEL JOHNSON (INC MEMBER – ORLANDO, FLORIDA): INC Media was important to me because it helped me learn what the Church values and its beliefs. Sharing the link with others and if they’re interested then just give them an opportunity to read about it. I think if people have the chance to read about the beliefs and values of the Church, that’s the most important thing.

AUDREY ROSAL: Sharing the true faith continues to be vital for Church Of Christ members like Daniel. Which is why anyone who would receive and take even a moment to learn more, their lives change for the best. If you live in Florida or you are looking to reconnect with God, begin your journey by visiting us on incmedia.org. Check out the beliefs page where you can learn about the fundamental beliefs of the Church Of Christ. Audrey Rosal, Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network. 

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RICHIE FERRERA: To improve air quality and reduce drainage issues in urban settings across their state, the Urban Airshed Reforestation Program was established by the New Jersey Tree Foundation. But none of its efforts are possible without the assistance of volunteers. Nikki Valdez has more details.

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JULIENNE NICOLE VALDEZ: Unfortunate floodwater and sewage design means this is a common sight in some New Jersey communities, something Crystal from the New Jersey Tree Foundation knows how to help combat. 

CRYSTAL WESSEL (NEW JERSEY TREE FOUNDATION): It has a combined sewer system so sewage and storm water is in the same system and then when it overflows, it ends up flooding into the streets. So the trees help to absorb some storm water, reduce the amount of water going into the system and reduce the chance of those overflows.

JULIENNE NICOLE VALDEZ: Which equates to one thing: New Jersey needs more trees. 

CRYSTAL WESSEL (NEW JERSEY TREE FOUNDATION): It’s super important to get the community involved, to get them to understand why trees are important, and just get them to really take ownership of the trees. Like, when they are the ones planting them then they want to see them survive and really get their hands dirty and know how important it is.

JULIENNE NICOLE VALDEZ: And Members of the Church Of Christ in New Jersey agreed to be that community. As part of the INC Giving Project they volunteered to plant a series of trees with the New Jersey Tree Foundation. They planted 25 trees in Newark, and another nine in a neighborhood in Camden.

MEREDITH PICHINI (NEW JERSEY TREE FOUNDATION): Everyone came together to work. Volunteers came from all over, including your Church, to plant today. We were actually done in less than an hour because of the hard work of our volunteers and residents.

CHELSEA BAUTISTA (INC MEMBER – NEW JERSEY): It’s important to give back to the community that you’re from. And it’s important to plant trees because by doing so, it’s a reminder to everybody and to take care of the environment to be conscious of what’s happening around us even if we live in a very urban setting, to incorporate that in our community and to build that up.

JULIENNE NICOLE VALDEZ: Building up the communities in which the Church Of Christ worships and serves, is an integral part of the INC Giving Project and its biblical motto, to do good whenever we possibly can. 

ROSE APELACIO (INC MEMBER – PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA): Bonding with the community and having the sense of unity and brotherhood and helping to better our communities. It shows that we love them because we don’t hesitate to give a helping hand when they’re in need. 

KARINA GARCIA (RESIDENT & HOMEOWNER – CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY): Thank you, thank you so much. It just means a lot to have people come to somewhere where they’re not from, somewhere where it doesn’t directly impact them. And to do something good anyway, you know, just because, not because you have to, but just because you want to.

CRYSTAL WESSEL (NEW JERSEY TREE FOUNDATION): Thank you so much we literally cannot do these tree plantings without the help of volunteers. Everyone really worked hard today, digging, rolling these huge trees in the hole, mulching them, it’s really a community effort and we are so grateful to all of our volunteers.

JULIENNE NICOLE VALDEZ: INC Giving volunteers look forward to future opportunities to collaborate with local organizations to do good whenever we possibly can, right here in New Jersey. To see more INC Giving projects; visit incgiving.org. Julienne Nicole Valdez; Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network; Union, New Jersey. 

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RICHIE FERRERA: While demand for blood donors increased in other countries,

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Canada has maintained a healthy supply of blood due in part by loyal donors who did not stop giving blood during the pandemic. National Post

RICHIE FERRERA: So let’s go to Ontario and meet a group of donors who were recognized by the Canadian Blood Services for their support throughout the country. 

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RICHIE FERRERA: While the pandemic put much of the world at a halt, nothing would stop the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church Of Christ, volunteers in Southern Ontario in their efforts to help those in need. After participating in an ambitious food donation project where over 4.5 tons of food was donated, every weekend of the month of May volunteers then donated blood. Six different locations served as sites for volunteers to participate in blood donation drives across Southern Ontario.

JOSHUA GUILLERY (INC VOLUNTEER – SOUTHERN ONTARIO, CANADA): We had an awesome experience, giving blood and helping those who really need it. And I’m truly grateful for the opportunity.

REYNALDO DELOS REYES (INC VOLUNTEER – SOUTHERN ONTARIO, CANADA): I am participating because I want to help the community. 

RICHIE FERRERA: Yet these volunteers were not alone. Iglesia Ni Cristo volunteers participated from all across Canada, in collaboration with the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation and Canadian Blood Services over the past month, hosting a total of 45 donations, with over 500 participants, and contributing to the country’s healthy blood supply. 

LILET RAFFINAN (TERRITORY MANAGER – CANADIAN BLOOD SERVICES): You have stepped up again, to make a difference in the lives of many patients. 

RICHIE FERRERA: The Canadian Blood Services acknowledged the incredible turnout of the INC volunteers despite the challenges of the pandemic, thanking the participants and recognizing congregations across Canada, including the members of the Church Of Christ in Southern Ontario. 

LILET RAFFINAN (TERRITORY MANAGER – CANADIAN BLOOD SERVICES): Thank you once again for doing this. Thank you for making it possible. 

RICHIE FERRERA: Iglesia Ni Cristo volunteers are committed to continue working together to help those in need across Canada, and all around the world. To learn more about the inspirational acts of kindness found in the Church Of Christ, log on to INCGiving.org

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RICHIE FERRERA: Well, that does it for us on INC News World. Tune in every Friday for new episodes of INC News World on incmedia.org. I’m Richie Ferrera; on behalf of the entire INC News World team, thank you for joining us and we hope you continue to stay safe wherever you may be. We’ll see you next time. Have a great weekend and God bless! 

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Millennial Seeks True Religion in Florida