Rome, Italy: Celebrating 25 Blessed Years
Narrator: During the second century, Rome was an empire at the pinnacle of civilization, with engineering marvels way ahead of their time. Centuries past, the once thriving city of ancient Rome, began to diminish and fade away, leaving behind relics of what once was. Today, Rome is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, with people coming from all over the world, just to visit this historic site.
15 minutes away from the capital of Rome, there is a different and unique building located at number 16 via Viguzzolo Rome, Italy. It is an Iglesia Ni Cristo worship building, where members of the Church Of Christ gathered to worship God.
This is their story.
[On-screen text graphic – People of God, Give Him Glory]
[On-screen text graphics – Brother Carlos Manaois, Head Deacon, Rome, Italy ]
Brother Carlos Manaois: When I arrived here in Italy, the first worship service I attended was in Tiburtina, that was in 1984. At that time, there were more or less 50 members. We were happy, even though our place of worship was small but the orderliness was still there and the worship services were so spiritual. As time went by, the number of brethren increased. Because of that, we could no longer fit inside the place of worship which is why we started to look for a bigger place.
[On-screen text graphics – Brother Joey San Vincente, Deacon, Rome, Italy ]
Brother Joey San Vicente: We would sometimes rent theaters, until we started to hold devotional prayers, that one day, we could find a permanent place of worship.
Brother Carlos Manaois: We never stopped searching, not only for a place of worship but also for a place which we could recommend to the Church Administration to purchase. The Church Administration did not hesitate in responding to our request because that was also what the Church Administration wanted; to purchase a permanent place of worship to hold our worship services.
Brother Joey San Vicente: Through God’s help and mercy, we were able to find a place but when we first saw it, it was just a warehouse.
Brother Rizalino Santos: A shell, with no heating, no air conditioning, no nothing. No podium. None. So, it really has to be renovated.
Brother Carlos Manaois: The brethren were happy, to tell you the truth, when our request was approved to start renovating the warehouse to look like a real chapel, the brethren never stopped volunteering to work. Working together the whole day into the next morning. Because that’s the house of God, that’s where we worship Him. That’s why we did everything we could do especially, for the house of worship, so that God can see that we could render a higher level of worship to Him.
Narrator: Although the brethren were able to find a solution to their problem, another challenge had yet to be solved.
Brother Rizalino Santos: That was April when Brother Eraño G. Manalo called me and he said, “What does it take to register the Church as a recognized entity in Italy?” The call was made in April, and then in May, Brother Eraño G. Manalo said that, “He will not be the one to come, but Brother Eduardo V. Manalo will be the one to represent him to register the Church.”
What I can say is that my Brother Eduardo V. Manalo is not only a good, but a master planner because even before he went to Rome, he asked me already a lot of questions. I believe that Brother Eraño G. Manalo did not instruct him to do that, but he did it on his own. The initiative— doing something without being told. That is one ministerial value that I learned from him. When Brother Eduardo V. Manalo arrived, we started working on the registration. Going to the office of the lawyer and then finding out what documents we would need. Then, after reviewing the documents, then someone should notarize it.
Brother Rizalino Santos: Working with Brother Eduardo V. Manalo then, first hand, I witnessed how patient and how hardworking Brother Eduardo V. Manalo is. Because sometimes we have to stay in the office sitting there for hours and I’m really pained to see them suffering. I can tell although there is no complaint—but then he was the one even comforting me saying, “Let us just wait.
Pray. We will succeed.”
Narrator: 25 years later, the chapel in Rome was once again buzzing with activity with brethren not only from Rome, but all over Europe, to attend a special worship service to God led by the Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manolo, in celebration of the 105th anniversary of the Church Of Christ, and the 25th anniversary of the Church in Rome.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: Each of us needs to be active in our membership in the Church Of Christ when Christ’s Second Advent is near. God wants that Christ finds us being active. We need to fulfill the tasks that God expects of us, whether we are ordinary members of Church officers. Why? For us to be assured of receiving salvation. Members of the Church Of Christ in these last days who are certain of salvation on Judgment Day should be giving glory to God because that is expected of them. Brethren, that is the direction the Church is headed. We will carry out the giving of glory to God as He expects this from us.
Brother Carlos Manaois: With the ever-nearing pastoral visit then of Brother Eraño G. Manalo, we were extremely joyful. We didn’t feel tired in renovating the chape— we did the best we could to renovate the House of Worship.
Brother Joey San Vicente: The Church Administration wanted the chapel to have towers. The warehouse, if you were to measure it and install towers the problem would be how to install them?
Brother Carlos Manaois: But, we members of the Church Of Christ we put our complete hope and trust in God. We know that whatever we do for the house of worship, it will happen.
Brother Joey San Vicente: We gathered all of our engineers, skilled experts and those with experience in carpentry. So, we bought plywood to cover up the construction so that they could only see the finished result. The brethren were working on the renovations inside, What our neighbors could only hear was the sound of construction. What they didn’t know was that there was a miracle happening inside. We were welding metal in a way which you normally wouldn’t be able to.
Brother Rizalino Santos: Even installing the tower which was made of steel also. How do you lift that up? The base where you would put it was ready, but how do you lift a metal tower that weighs several tons? So, we had to do it by rope. If I could picture that for you, the rope was tied to the heavy tower and it had to be pulled using a pulley. We had a van, and we tied the rope to the van. There was a long line of brethren and we were pulling the tower so it could be placed on the chapel. It was hard. We couldn’t fit it there and so we decided let’s pray so that we could fit it there and that there would be no accident.
Brother Carlos Manaois: Yes, we always prayed. Before working, after working–especially when we faced that kind of obstacle, we always prayed. Of course, our weapon is to ask and pray to God that hopefully that all our obstacles in renovating the chapel, He would take them away, so that the renovation of the House of Worship could be finished.
Brother Rizalino Santos: After the prayer, what happened? The boom broke. And then the tower just fit. Fit. For hours we were trying to fit it, it would not fit. After the prayer and the boom when it fell, it fit. That’s another miracle if you will ask me.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: The Bible says, “Give to the Lord the glory His name deserves.” Where should we worship God? In the temple. What is the temple? The place where worship services are held. Thus what must a Church Of Christ member do? He must obey that if he wants to give glory to God. That’s because to worship God and to bring offerings give glory to Him. But where should it be done? In the place of worship. That’s why we should never forsake the worship service. What did Christ say to us? According to Him, it is our aim to glorify God, then what glorifies the Father is that we bear abundant fruit. That’s why, as you can see, we have intensified even more the work of propagation. May all Church Of Christ members participate in the propagation of the faith.
Brother Rizalino Santos: One miracle that I can say happened was the government official that should sign, went on vacation.
[On-screen text graphics – Brother Marco Boni, Volunteer Evangelical Worker ]
Brother Marco Boni: But the problem was, the anniversary of the Church is on the 27th of July, so the Church Administration wanted the registration to be on this date. The problem was that, in Italy, the judges who had to sign the registration of the Church were on holiday from July 15 to September 15. That meant that on July 27 the court was closed and the judges were on vacation.
Brother Rizalino Santos: How can the Church be registered on time, when the signature of a very important government official is missing? It’s impossible, it’s impossible for the paperwork to move.
Brother Marco Boni: They told us that they couldn’t do it and we had to wait until September 20. But for us, it was important to do it on July 27.
Brother Rizalino Santos: The miracle there was that the official went back to Rome, for one reason or another.
Brother Marco Boni: One of the judges who was in charge of the registration process, after leaving, she noticed that she forgot something important in the office and she came back to get it.
Brother Rizalino Santos: And so, when we went, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo with nothing in his stomach, no breakfast, no nothing, he just went to the government office, and she was there! For a couple of days only she was able to sign, so that it can be signed July 27.
Brother Marco Boni: [Italian] So that’s the proof that God is behind everything that concerns the Church Of Christ because if the judge didn’t forget something then the registration couldn’t be done.
Narrator: The Church Of Christ was registered with the government in Italy on July 27, 1994. The abandoned warehouse was repaired and renovated and is now a permanent place for the brethren in Rome to use to worship God.
Brother Carlos Manaois: [Tagalog] Our chapel is truly beautiful. it’s a proper and beautiful worship building. We love and respect it. We were happy that we were able to finish the chapel. When Brother Eraño G. Manalo officiated our worship service for the first time here in Rome, Italy, it was very spiritual. Our Lord God outpoured His great power, which was felt by everyone in attendance.
Brother Rizalino Santos: The 80th anniversary was so tremendous— so powerful. We used Integrated Services Digital Network lines (ISDN)— I think it was projected to so many other locations. The lesson was about the purpose of Eraño G. Manalo’s coming to Rome. And he said just like how Apostle Paul went to Rome to build up, strengthen the faith of the brethren. Being instrumental for the Brethren to receive God’s blessings— that was also his purpose in coming to Rome. To be with all three generations of Executive Ministers in the Church, I think is the greatest experience that a minister can ever have. I’ve heard Brother Felix Y. Manalo preach many times. Being with Brother Eraño G. Manalo for so much time of my ministry— learning a lot from him. He’s so great. And now Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. It is the same message or doctrine— there is no change.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: [Tagalog] According to the apostles, Church Of Christ members should completely offer or give themselves to God. Holding an office in Church is a life-long commitment. We have brethren, who, despite having severe illnesses, refuse to let go of their duties. What they want is to always fulfill their duties. Though they may be very old, yet what they want is that when the day and time of our worship services is to wear their uniform that they use in fulfilling their duties. Why? Because they know that fulfilling their duties is a life-long commitment.
We should never be lazy in fulfilling our Church duties— whatever the duty that we may have. Your sacrifices are not in vain. We should not let go of our Church duty. Let us love this because through it, we can enjoy God’s love for us. Because it’s not only in this life that we will receive God’s blessings, but most of all, in that which is to…We will be able to make it to the Holy City if we safeguard our God-given duties.
Brother Carlos Manaois: [Tagalog] There are only a few members of the Church Of Christ in Rome when I arrived here. All of the established local congregations here: Roma East, Roma West, Roma North all come from Central Rome. Because the brethren here never stopped in their missionary works. We were able to convert Italians, just like today how we are intensifying the works of propagation— even back then we did the same. We had the same goal for the Church Of Christ here in Rome to grow.
Brother Bob Pellien [On-screen text graphics – Former District Supervising Minister— Rome, Italy]: Now, it’s so nice to see the big change and growth— let’s call it… a progress let’s call it— of the Church and the lives and therefore, also the lives of the members of the Church. The Church flourished with God’s blessing on it. And it continues under the current leadership of the Church under Brother Eduardo. It’s a really wonderful thing to see. The progress of the Church, and the progress of the life of the brethren, and the joy of their membership in the Church, and the joy of their life is running in parallel with God’s blessing. It’s a wonderful thing.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo: [Tagalog] The Bible said that even if various problems, troubles, and trials come to our lives, we should not be afraid or not despair because God is there and is present among us. God is a strong Warrior there to save you. The Bible tells us, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart don’t try to figure out everything on your own.” The Bible says, “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do.” Brethren, when do we listen to God’s voice? During our worship service. You will not be deceived. You will not be led astray. You will not be separated. God wants that we cherish our membership in the Church Of Christ and Safeguard our God given election.
[On-screen text graphics – Sister Graziella Augustin – Choir Member ]
Sister Graziella Agustin: [Italian] This worship service is very important to all of us because we were able to thank our Lord God for all the triumphs and all the victories He gave us, and all our sacrifices have been rewarded with this great worship service.
Brother: [Italian] I saw all the faces of the brethren, it was something special, something wonderful that we were all experiencing and that moment.
[On-screen text graphics – Brother Giovanni Rivarola – Choir Member ]
Brother Giovanni Rivarola: [Italian] I thank our Lord God for all the blessings that He keeps on giving me and because I am a member of the Church Of Christ. Thank you so much.
Brother Marco Boni: What can I say? “Thank you to God.”
Brother: [Italian] For us it is really important to listen to the words of God being preached by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, because for us he is our guide and he inspires us. So that we can find the strength to overcome everything.
Brother Giovanni Rivarola: [Italian] No, I will never leave the Church Of Christ I will always be faithful to the Church Of Christ until the end.
Brother Rizalino Santos: For three years, I had to travel by car, by plane and by train. And that is why, with that kind of experience, I can tell how hard Brother Eduardo V. Manalo is working because he has been doing that for 10 years. I did it only for three years and I know how hard it is.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, thank you so much for the opportunity you have given us to be under your kind and powerful leadership. To be under your kind and powerful leadership.
Narrator: The number of brethren not only in Rome, but worldwide will continue to grow as those who seek the truth will join the Church Of Christ and be saved. To become people of God; give Him glory.