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Seeking and Putting God First in Calgary

In Calgary, after reconnecting with a friend, a man's curiosity leads to a true relationship with God; in the UK, a man's interest leads him to the INC.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: This week on INC News World. In Calgary, another person finds his way to true Christianity. In the United Kingdom, a special event to make new members of the Church Of Christ feel welcome.

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SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Welcome to INC News World. I am Shannon Santamaria, coming to you from the INC Media Studios in Honolulu, Hawaii. And we hope everyone is continuing to stay safe wherever you are today. (continued in graphics)

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HOST CONTINUED: With over 550,000 practicing Catholics in Calgary…

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Catholicism remains one of the largest denominations in the area. But more often, adherents are discovering the difference between their Catholic faith and true Christianity. Mia Mendoza has the details on one such person.

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ANTHONY NGUYEN (NEWLY BAPTIZED INC MEMBER, RIVERBEND – CALGARY): God is first, comes first.

MIA MENDOZA: Anthony, a physical therapist with an interest in sports medicine, just recently turned his focus towards Christianity.

ANTHONY NGUYEN (NEWLY BAPTIZED INC MEMBER – RIVERBEND, CALGARY): So before attending Bible studies, I knew nothing about Christian religion. I was Catholic and then once I found out that it was solely based on the Bible, then that’s when I really – it opened my ears to that. And then I started attending Bible studies and learning more

MIA MENDOZA: For Anthony, putting God first has been what 2021 is all about.

ANTHONY NGUYEN (NEWLY BAPTIZED INC MEMBER – RIVERBEND, CALGARY): I started attending Bible studies maybe seven months ago.

MIA MENDOZA: After reconnecting with an old high school classmate, Allison, Anthony had a lot of questions about life inside the Church Of Christ.

ALLYSON TECSON (INC MEMBER – RIVERBEND, CALGARY): And so I kind of just went into detail about, like Church, so I can explain what I do because he asks, “What do you do for Church?” like “How come you go like twice a week?” I never really like, officially invited him, but he was the one who [said] “Ok, I want to go…When can I…?” He kept asking, “When can I attend? When can I go?”

ANTHONY NGUYEN (NEWLY BAPTIZED INC MEMBER – RIVERBEND, CALGARY): Everything’s just based on the Bible. And I, I strongly believe that that’s the way it should be.

ALLYSON TECSON (INC MEMBER – RIVERBEND, CALGARY): And right away, he attended one of the Bible studies, and from then on, since day one, he never stopped really attending.

MIA MENDOZA: After fully studying the teachings of the Bible taught in the Church Of Christ, Anthony arrived to the day of his baptism and a special worship service led by District Supervising Minister Brother Rolando Gavriel. It was a day of blessings for all of those involved in another person finding the true church.

ALLYSON TECSON (INC MEMBER – RIVERBEND, CALGARY): I was thinking, God, I felt really more blessed than ever. And I felt more thankful to Him, you know, because even though we’re going through a pandemic, I still see my blessings and today was another blessing.

MIA MENDOZA: Here in Calgary, this baptism is the perfect example of the intensive propagation efforts that members of the Church Of Christ embarked on at the beginning of 2021, a pace that has no indication of slowing down.  If you’d like to hear the biblical teachings that interested Anthony, log on to incmedia.org. Mia Mendoza, Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network, Calgary.

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SHANNON SANTAMARIA: With the isolation and loneliness that the pandemic has brought.

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HOST CONTINUED: Many have rediscovered the sheer pleasure of writing to strangers… spreading hope and connection around the world.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And in the United Kingdom, we learn about a man in search of social connection and how he took an unexpected journey of something greater.

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SHANNON SANTAMARIA: In today’s world, where communication is made immediate and accessible through social media.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: Written correspondence is said to be as good as dead.

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HOST CONTINUED: But with the ongoing pandemic, where a lot are experiencing isolation, more and more people are finding ways to make more intimate connections with one another. Like Len Taylor from the United Kingdom.

LEN TAYLOR (RESIDENT – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM): I suppose it was during the lockdown really started COVID last year. I took on pen pals around the world and China, America, Australia, but one was also in the Philippines, in Manila. And that’s when I first heard about the Church Of Christ.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: He learned that one of the new friends he made through written correspondence was a member of the Church Of Christ. When Len was introduced to the Church. He didn’t think much of it at the time until he came across an interesting article that captured his attention.

LEN TAYLOR (RESIDENT – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM): It was just really the background talk between pen pals that I, quite by accident, I came across an article by or about Felix Manalo and it intrigued me. So I studied a bit more and I just read up on the man and then that got me interested in the Church. This huge growing religion started, and I’m just curious about what it was.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: A growing curiosity that encouraged him to learn more about the Church.

JOHN HOBLEY (HEAD DEACON – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM) : Brother Len had contacted me or sent a message through and Brother Alan asked me if I would look after Brother Len and sort of help him and support him. We’ve had many contacts now. We’ve actually sort of seen each other face to face for the first time online these last couple of days.

LEN TAYLOR (RESIDENT – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM): It’s a very hospitable environment to learn a quite complex subject. And this offers of help and support all the way so far, which is very reassuring.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And as someone who was also formerly in Len’s position, John reflects on the importINCe of a sense of community that he also experienced within the Church Of Christ when he was first introduced.

JOHN HOBLEY (HEAD DEACON – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM) : And the first thing that struck me was how friendly everybody was and because everyone was so friendly, I was quite happy to go back the second time and third and so on because I felt at home there

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And today, Len experienced the same warmth of the members of the Church Of Christ in the Local Congregations of Colchester and Hertfordshire. Through a “Welcome My Brethren” online activity that allowed Church Of Christ members to share their faith and interact with those on their journey to learn about the true faith. Games were prepared and entertaining videos for everyone in attendance.

LEN TAYLOR (RESIDENT – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM): It’s being very friendly, very open and very honest, which is quite refreshing. I like the feeling of being energized. There’s a lot of energy about the Church and the feeling of camaraderie within the Church.

JOHN HOBLEY (HEAD DEACON – COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM) : We need to be as close together as possible. We are brothers and sisters. It’s truly how we are in the Church. We really are like a family, and that is so important that we do whatever we can to keep those relationships going. While this pandemic is ongoing, I think all of us just can’t wait for the day, this pandemic is over. And we can be physically present with one another again. Not only in our worship services, but in all the various activities of the Church. We can’t wait for it.

SHANNON SANTAMARIA: And for members of the Church Of Christ in the district of the United Kingdom, they will continue to share their faith with their fellowmen. To hear more inspiring stories from around the world. Log on to incmedia.org/INC-News-World.

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SHANNON SANTAMARIA: 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 Shannon Santamaria, and on behalf of the entire INC News World team, thank you for joining 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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Seeking and Putting God First in Calgary