What We Are Thankful For 2022 Year-End Special – Part 3
Brother Michael Guerrero: Welcome back to this special episode of INC News World. This year God granted success to His Church in endless ways, just like what we’ve been able to witness early on in this episode. But as we go into this next part of our special, we recognize the success He has also granted to individuals with their dreams and aspirations. For AlJay, a young table tennis player, let’s learn how with hard work and determination, he was able to achieve his latest victory with the help of God.
Michelle Peredo: The sport of ping-pong, or what is internationally known as table tennis requires athletic capability, agility, and focus. Every timed calculated swing count. And it’s what Aljay Villena from Nueva Ecija, Philippines knows all too well how to do.
Aljay Villena (Table Tennis Player, Ontario, California): I started when I was 8 years. Before, I was just a kid, a little immature. I just wanted to play.
Michelle Peredo: What started off as a fun hobby has now opened doors for this 16-year-old. Defeating veteran and older opponents even while barefoot, he has captured audiences online, going viral, for his exemplary skills as a young athlete. Becoming the youngest Filipino table tennis champion at just 11 years old.
News Anchor: This is after he was crowned champion in the recently concluded Open Pingpong tournament…
Ryan Gabriel (AlJay’s Head Coach and Mentor, Philippines): When it comes to dedication, I can say that his discipline is good. Athletes’ dedication [is important] in any sports or competition. With dedication comes discipline.
Michelle Peredo: He has competed internationally, including at the World Championships in London back in 2018. And today, after a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic, he finds himself in Ontario, California competing at the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships. The results? Outstanding. Winning 2 golds, and 1 silver in the Under 17 Hardbat Junior Boys Division.
Aljay Villena (Table Tennis Player, Ontario, California): I trained a lot. I trained for 8 hours [every day]. My opponent was quite good and I was nervous. But when I was already winning, I was able to do it, I’m happy.
Michelle Peredo: And as a member of the Church Of Christ, along with working hard and the team behind him, he cites his main source of success.
Aljay Villena (Table Tennis Player, Ontario, California): Thank you very much to our Lord God. First of all, we Church Of Christ members, we pray before training. Then after the training, we pray again because, if it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t be able to do anything.
Michelle Peredo: And though there were challenges along the way to the U.S. Open, such as funding and a knee injury, this didn’t stop him from prioritizing one thing during his preparation.
Aljay Villena (Table Tennis Player, Ontario, California): I put my worship first, before training.
Ryan Gabriel (Head Coach and Mentor, Philippines): Worship is really a priority and he is always thankful to our Lord who knows that without guidance and blessings, he will not succeed in anything.
Hector Obar (Sponsor, INC Member, Ontario, California): He knows the value of his election and you know by doing this, he will share also his faith.
Michelle Peredo: Seeking a place of worship of the Church Of Christ, he made sure he was able to render his thanksgiving to the Almighty God—through the special worship service.
Aljay Villena (Table Tennis Player, Ontario, California): First of all, I am thankful and I have achieved my gold success. And thank you very much to God and I really prayed for this fight so that I can win gold.
Michelle Peredo: And though this has only been the beginning for Aljay, this Olympic gold medalist hopeful stays true to his main sources of inspiration.
Aljay Villena (Table Tennis Player, Ontario, California): I want to help my parents. They always support me in every game I play. I dedicate this battle of mine to you. I want to give joy to our Executive Minister. I want to cheer him up. I want to give praise to our Lord God and honor to the Philippines and the Church Of Christ.
Brother Michael Guerrero: From the US to Northern Europe and the Philippines, we’ve met individuals from different places. And though they are separated by different continents, they all share one important trait, their dedication to the true faith. For our last story, let’s go to Southeast Africa where we meet a man who, despite persecution and hardships, was able to take part in God’s many blessings to him and his family.
Stacy Larkin: Located in the Southern Region of Africa, Zambia is a landlocked country known for walking safaris. It’s in this country, in the city of Lusaka where Goodson grew up with his own beliefs about what being a Christain meant.
Goodson Frank Poya (Resident, Lusaka, Zambia): My mindset during that time was that any church, a person is free to join as long as you are a Christian. You can belong to any religious group.
Stacy Larkin: His mindset about religion would soon come to a crossroads.
Goodson Frank Poya (Resident, Lusaka, Zambia): I did not reject when I was invited to come listen to the [doctrines in the Church Of Christ] because, I had another motive within me to go there to question them, the one who was teaching.
Stacy Larkin: Set on disproving what he would hear, Goodson’s skepticism was replaced with curiosity about the teachings inside the Church Of Christ.
Goodson Frank Poya (Resident, Lusaka, Zambia): What I found there, from the word of God, the presentation of the teachings by the minister, the way he preached, it was question and answer. And everything was not from the mind of the minister. But it was something that was from the Bible. I decided to join the Church of Christ.
Stacy Larkin: Confident in his decision, Goodson, however, faced objections from family and friends.
Goodson Frank Poya (Resident, Lusaka, Zambia): I had the support of my wife, but some of the family members were very much against me joining the Church Of Christ. And even the people from [my]former church, former religion, they were very much against [it]. They would say that I am now lost. We were able to pull through, no matter what people said. We decided, that this is our future, to become members in the Church Of Christ.
Stacy Larkin: Now, as a baptized member of the Church Of Christ, Goodson continues to place his trust in God. When Goodson’s youngest daughter was 7 years old, she began experiencing pains and weakness in her legs due to bone fractures.
Goodson Frank Poya (INC Member, Lusaka, Zambia): For about seven years, my daughter was operated on. She had this pain for seven years.
Stacy Larkin: Despite this difficult situation Goodson and his whole family received the reassurance they needed. Through prayers of devotion, his daughter is now able to walk pain-free. Despite difficult circumstances, Goodson is filled with gratitude for all of God’s guidance.
Goodson Frank Poya (INC Member, Lusaka, Zambia): When I look back at my life during that time, I am able to see a great change. I am thankful to God that indeed He made me make a good decision. We [are] able to follow the doctrines and implement them in our daily lives each and every day.
Stacy Larkin: Today, Goodson, along with being the chapel caretaker, is also one of the head deacons in the Local Congregation of Great North. The house of worship of Great North is the first Church Of Christ house of worship to be built in Zambia. Members here were thankful for this new house of worship and for its recent dedication that was led via video streaming by the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ.
Goodson Frank Poya (INC Member, Great North, Lusaka, Zambia): I’m short of words, because never in my life did I expect that I would reach this far, or to experience this wonderful blessing that God has given to us, the people of Zambia, to have the first chapel built for us. We are so thankful. And everyone else in this Local [Congregation] of Great North or in Zambia, we thank the Church Administration for this wonderful building that they have given unto us.
Stacy Larkin: Along with Goodson is his wife and all of their children, holding various offices helping in the Local Congregation of Great North. And their two oldest sons currently studying in the Holy Ministry.
Goodson Frank Poya (INC Member, Lusaka, Zambia): They are there to learn and to do this work through the guidance of the Church Administration. And our prayer is that God will always use them so that they can be able also to inspire others.
Stacy Larkin: Through all the trials Goodson has encountered, his thankfulness to God has never waivered, bringing with it countless blessings.
Brother Michael Guerrero: As we come to the end of this special episode, we leave you with this, that as each year passes and it comes with its own struggles, we know one thing is for certain: that God will remain with His Church for all time, and its faithful members come what may. No matter what is in store for this year to come we, His people, will be thankful no matter what. Ready to face the future, abounding in faith, love, and hope. On behalf of the entire INC News World team, we would like to greet our Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, and members of the Church Of Christ all around the world, a happy new year. I’m Brother Michael Guerrero, thank you for joining us. Stay safe, and we’ll see you next time. God bless.
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