U.S. West Coast Regional Unity Games Pt. 1
Richie Ferrera: Welcome to the special episode of INC News World, I’m Richie Ferrera.
Michelle Peredo: And I’m Michelle Peredo. And we’re coming to you from Orange County, California.
Richie Ferrera: Now we’re just wanting to share with you the highlights of this most anticipated sports event in the Church Of Christ…
Both: Unity Games!
Richie Ferrera: In this week, we simultaneously conducted the Regional Unity Games throughout the United States both in the West Coast and the East Coast. But you know what, let’s get started by bringing you the updates of all of the events that happened here in the West.
Michelle Peredo: You know what, it’s been so exciting Richie to see nine ecclesiastical districts all gathered in one place, from Hawaii-Pacific, to Mountain States, Oregon, Washington, Northeast and Northwest California…
Michelle Peredo: And we’re also commemorating the 50th anniversaries of the Kadiwa and the Binhi organizations of the Church Of Christ.
Richie Ferrera: So before anything else, we just want to say, “Happy anniversary to all of the youth members of the Church Of Christ!”
Michelle Peredo: Happy anniversary!
Richie Ferrera: Now I don’t know about you Michelle, but I’m super pumped for the Unity Games!
Michelle Peredo: I’m pumped too, Richie, and we got some awesome stories ahead of us featuring athletes, and sports enthusiasts, and how they were all able to maintain the love of the brotherhood throughout the entire event!
Richie Ferrera: Let’s go!
Michelle Peredo: Let’s go!
Richie Ferrera: Swimming, archery, the list of sports scheduled is extensive. And here, with the young athletes, are their biggest cheerleaders– their parents! Now why don’t we head to the volleyball court, so we could meet a mom and a dad, who are doing more than just cheering on their daughter. They’re finding a way to get more involved.
Richie Ferrera: That was the game winning play for Orange County, California’s men’s volleyball team.
A memorable moment for Mike, their coach, and his wife, Jackie, coaching the women’s team, here at the West Coast Regional Unity Games. But before coaching, Mike and Jackie have actually been playing volleyball at sports tournaments in the Church Of Christ, for as long as they can remember.
Jackie Salonga (Volleyball Coaches, Orange County, California): I mean I don’t think we’ve missed a tournament, from the 90’s until now.
Richie Ferrera: While first, spending time with each other playing volleyball as teenagers, Mike and Jackie would eventually start a family together.
Jackie & Mike Salonga (Volleyball Coaches, Orange County, California): I think that when we were thinking about starting a family, it was always kind of a dream to have our kids be athletes,
Richie Ferrera: Kaelyn, ten years old, competes in American Ninja Warrior. Miko, 7, plays basketball with his dad every week. And Isla, well, she’s only four so she just dances around all the time. But Leilah, their eldest, took up a familiar sport– volleyball.
Jackie & Mike Salonga (Volleyball Coaches, Orange County, California): She loves it, and we love it too. If she has the passion for it, and we have the passion, then we’re all in it together. It makes it that much more fun. For somebody that’s played for one year, she has a long way to go, but it’ll be fun.
Richie Ferrera: Fast forward to today, a family affair for the Salongas, coaching and playing at the U.S. West Coast Regional Unity Games.
Competing today are multiple teams representing nine ecclesiastical districts of the Church Of Christ, encompassing twelve states in the West Coast, all gathering here in Orange County, California. The Regional Unity Games is also serving as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Binhi and Kadiwa– the youth organizations in the Church Of Christ.
As coaches, Mike and Jackie know the special role they play and the responsibility they have to care for the youth in the Church.
Jackie & Mike Salonga (Volleyball Coaches, Orange County, California): It’s a privilege to be able to represent the whole district as a coach. We have our offices in the Church. We look at being coaches as another office. We have a lot of Kadiwa and Binhi [members] on the teams that we can help influence in a positive way. When we talk to them about the different skills in volleyball, we also make sure that we always put in the forefront– this is Unity Games. Winning is one part of it, but, Unity Games is part of showing how to be true Christians, how to be united. It’s something that we want to instill into all the players on the team.
Richie Ferrera: But as the heat of competition grew, the unique atmosphere of the Unity Games could be felt whether by athletes, spectators, or even officiating refs.
Brandon Ward (Officiating Referee, Non-INC Member): What I saw in today’s Unity Games was, again, everybody pulling for one goal, it seemed like. And I’ve done a lot of volleyball and generally in competition, players get heated, and sometimes not in a good way. Today, even though it was competition, I’ve seen everybody cheering everybody on, just everybody pulling for each other, even though it was competition. Competition sometimes brings out the worst in people, and today I saw competition still bring out the best in this group. So, unity is key in that, because, again, they were uniting instead of dividing. I just love that God was the number one, center of everything here. So I thought today was a great day overall.
Richie Ferrera: And while the women’s team might not have won first place, Layla still feels proud of what they were able to accomplish.
Leilah Salonga (Volleyball, Orange County, California): We’ve had so many practices, and we’ve had so much time to bond together, and we really have just become like family.
Richie Ferrera: Whether in sports or life, the Unity Games have further inspired parents like Mike and Jackie to do more for the youth.
Jackie & Mike Salonga (Volleyball Coaches, Orange County, California): It really touches you. They are growing and they’re grateful for the stuff you do for them. It makes you want to do more.
We instill in her that it’s God first, and then everything else.
And I think it helps her faith get a little bit stronger.
Richie Ferrera: While the games may have ended, the youth of the Church Of Christ will continue to grow stronger, guided, by the love of their parents.
Richie Ferrera, Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network, Orange County, California.
Richie Ferrera: Let’s go to the bowling alley, so that we can meet an athlete from Moreno Valley who’s taken his love for bowling to another level. Jerrica Lea Adlawan has that story.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): Bowling is a recreational sport. It strengthens flexibility as well as a strong mental state of mind.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: Richmond, an avid bowler from Moreno Valley, California, has been bowling for thirty two years. And his love for bowling is evident. Not only in the years he has under his belt, on the lanes, but also as the owner of a professional bowling shop in Moreno Valley.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): We offer services to our customers that allow them to progress in their game, as well as beginner bowlers, we get them started.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: That love for bowling didn’t just drive his career path. It was also how Richmond found the Church Of Christ.
Richmond Deasis (Moreno Valley, California): I was a convert. The activity that actually brought me here was actually a bowling activity. I was invited to do a bowling activity with the brethren.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: After their bowling activity, Richmond received another invitation to an occasion within the Church Of Christ that captivated his interest.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): Right after that, I attended an Evangelical Mission, and then I signed up [as a doctrinal instructee].
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: That marked the beginning of Richmond’s understanding of the truth and his decision to serve God. And currently holds offices in the Church.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): Me being a Bible Student at Montclair, I was actually very interested in becoming a choir member then. As a Technical Support for Video Streaming officer, we make sure the technical aspects of the worship service are up to par, as well as functional.
J and today Richmond was reminded of what brought him to the Church Of Christ in the first place, as one of the five Kadiwa male bowlers that were chosen to represent their district in the Regional Unity Games.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): It’s actually quite humbling. I was able to see people that I haven’t seen in a while as well as seeing the many different skill levels that the bowlers are in throughout the many districts.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: Kadiwa and Binhi bowlers from California, Nevada, Washington, Utah, and Arizona gathered at Oak Tree Lanes in Diamond Bar, California, to participate in the biggest bowling activity in the Church Of Christ on the West Coast.
Krista Araneta (event Organizer, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): It’s really heartwarming to see the reactions of the different brethren, especially from our visiting brethren from the eight districts that they are enjoying this event, they are very thankful, and they are excited to see one another and meet other brethren from different districts.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: And bowlers, like Ace and Jack from the Ecclesiastical District of Washington also look forward to participating in this momentous event.
Ace and Jack Derilo (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Washington State): I just love meeting new brethren. It’s just awesome to see different districts all come together in Unity.
And a lot of talent in California. Ever since we were younger we’ve been really competitive, especially in bowling. It just carried on, so we wanted to represent Washington State.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: As the Regional Unity Games drew to a close, trophies were awarded to winners of both individual and team divisions. And Richmond and his team taking home the runner-up trophy for team high series.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): It actually feels great. My team, they all scored really good for us to get runner-up high series. So that in mind, it was more of a team effort than it was an individual effort.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: But even more than that, Richmond was able to give one of his competitors a gift, showing his sportsmanship and his love for his fellow brothers and sisters in the Church Of Christ.
The last couple of Unity Games, I decided to give away a couple of bowling balls. I gave another bowling ball to a brother from San Diego County, and the reason why was because he was actually the top performer at this year’s Regional Unity Games.
Jullian Dinogan (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Mountain States): It shows that the Church Administration did not forget about us, especially with events like this, they’re able to bring us together, with sports activities. Unity Games– we’re able to feel their love and care and understand that they’re still looking out for us.
Richmond Deasis (Bowling, Ecclesiastical District of Orange County, California): Knowing that the Church Administration cares, it’s bringing us together, bringing us close, and strengthening our brotherhood.
Jerrica Lea Adlawan: And even more important for each competitor and attendee, was the experience that each of them had being able to bond, through the spirit of competition, and especially as brothers and sisters inside the Church Of Christ.
From Diamond bar California, Jerrica Lea Adlawan, for the Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network.
Michelle Peredo: Catch the continuation of this special coverage of the West Coast Regional Unity Games, in part 2 and part 3. We’ll see you there!