THE WORK OF THE LORD IN VALENZUELA CITY

THE SEED OF THE WORK that became Valenzuela church of Christ began with the conversion of brother Mauro Castro (deceased) and sister Leonor Castro, his wife.

The church of Valenzuela first met and worshipped in the home of the Castros in Karuhatan, Valenzuela City on Sunday afternoons. In the morning, the family worshipped in Caloocan.

Later conversions in Valenzuela included some names that sounds Chinese plus some prominent men in the neighborhood of Karuhatan.

THE SECOND ATTEMPT at planting a church in Valenzuela was in 2010 when Caloocan church hired brother Henry Lim and his wife. The support for brother Lim came from the brethren in South Korea. The church found a place that was to serve as its meeting hall in Gen. T. de Leon, Barrio Ugong, Valenzuela City, across the North Luzon Expressway. That work however did not last also.

JULY 2011 WAS CALOOCAN’S THIRD attempt to plant a church in this city. It was September last year when I began working here. Prospects to study with were difficult to find and we tried every means found in the book to find souls.

Our first break came when we baptized brother Danny Castro, brother Mauro’s son.  After two weeks of study daily in his mother’s home, he obeyed his Lord in baptism. I immersed him in a pool.

Our next break came with the conversion of a young man named Jay Ar Oloya of Bukid, Malinta. Although he had not left the Catholic Church, Jay had been hopping from one denomination to another. After ten lessons, I immersed him. Jay now trains to be a preacher together with another young man, Erwin Saligumba, grandson of my classmate Sid Saligumba.

We have had a lot of contacts and students now. However we just don’t dunk anyone easily to make good reports. What is important to us is faithfulness and the pledge of a convert to change lives. One student of mine wanted to be immersed but I made known to him in no uncertain terms he has to stop smoking and engaging in other vices. I require of him a commitment of worshipping the Lord every Sunday. Short of this, you are just taking a bath.

I am making a report here of the ministries we are now doing in Valenzuela, which the Lord in His great kindness and love has begun and continued to work on till this day.

TUTORIAL CENTER. In Valenzuela I teach a Friday Bible class consisting of 10 mothers and 2 fathers. These people are there to wait for their kids. The kids are students of our tutorial center, and they go to our tutorial center four days a week, from Tuesday to Friday.

While the kids learn their ABCs and Bible for four days, their parents too attend the once-a-week Bible class that I teach on Friday. This is a very effective way of evangelism as proven by the experiences of Kalookan and Marikina churches of Christ, and the growth that resulted from it; we too want to duplicate it in Valenzuela.

The children’s and parents’ classes have been ongoing now for a month. Already, one direct result is that our church attendance has increased (39 last Sunday, July 15!). We expect to invite more to attend worship in the coming Sundays ahead.

THE LESSONS WE TEACH. The parents, who sit down at my feet during the one-hour Bible class, learn the Bible, read Bible passages on screen (I am using the digital live projector supplied by Kalookan church), and listen to its divine principles being explained.

The lessons include an Introduction to the Bible (Lesson one, which discusses its divine origin and inspiration, its purpose, and its message); The Creation and the Coming of Sin (Lesson 2); Cain and Abel (Lesson 3, which discusses faith and works and worship and the principle of brotherly love); and many others. Our fourth lesson yesterday, July 20, was about Noah and His Obedience.

This Bible class program for parents will last for about a year, as long as the kids are in our tutorial center.

A CLASS TO ENCOURAGE THEM. In our classes, we encourage the mothers to attend worship in Valenzuela on Sunday afternoon. We also encourage them to share the lesson we have taught them to their husbands. The result is that some of the wives also bring their husbands to attend our Bible classes!

Our Bible class program will take the students in a journey through the Bible for ten months. Kalookan has experienced baptizing mothers after the tenth lesson (What Must I Do to be Saved), and we want to duplicate that here, with the help of God.

OUR GOAL. With this program we also hope to contribute to the community by teaching mothers on how to become good examples to the people around them, how to be good mothers to their kids and good wives to their husbands, to teach their husbands and their kids to fear God, and to prepare all for the judgment that is to come.

OUR EMPHASIS. I always emphasize in my classes the need to listen to God and His message for all mankind; we are given only one chance to live and after this the Bar (Hebrews 9:27), that we all shall face Him (Him whom they had pierced and hanged on that shameful cross) in a judgment that is just and fair (2 Corinthians 5:10); and that the Word of the Son of God, whom many among us have insulted and rejected, shall be the basis of that judgment (John 12:48). “Should we not all learn to fear Him?” I ask. Learn to be afraid and be wise, I urge them.

I also emphasize that the way to be blessed in our lifetime, and in the future, is to seek God and His ways through His Word (Matthew 6:33). I often see heads nodding in agreement.

THOUGH YOUR SINS BE DARKER THAN DARK. I also entertain questions and give advice. They invite me to listen to their most secret sins, and I listen with sympathy and pity for their souls. They now call me their brother, and these are people who belong to many sects! God has put under my care these men and women whom the devil has victimized and who now suffer the consequences of their past sins. I teach them a God whom anyone with sins darker than dark can approach through their prayers, a God who can understand them in their mistakes and faults and who bend backwards and care enough to send preachers and teachers to bring them back to His fold again.

OUR TRAINING SCHOOL. I have started training classes for two young men (Erwin Saligumba and Jay Ar Oloya) who work with me. I call them my Timothy and Titus. We have lessons on how to evangelize, lessons to teach in evangelism, proper approach in evangelism, how to answer religious objections. Many of Jay Ar’s friends are from the Pentecostals and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so we have a class that surveys the teachings of these sects and refute their errors. Erwin’s aunt is from the Iglesia group founded by Felix Manalo; we studied some errors of this sect too and how to refute them; and equipped with this partial knowledge about the Iglesia doctrines, Erwin started teaching his aunt last week.

We also have a training class in singing and song leading. Even the young people of Kalookan (who are being trained by brother Randy Macapagal), and Kris Ducusin (Randy’s assistant preacher) also wanted to attend my class. Problem is I cannot adjust my schedule to accommodate them. We hold our classes at night before we go to bed.

THE LIFE WE LIVE IN THE BIBLE SCHOOL. The young men who train under me live simple lives with me. Our food consists of rice and vegetables (like okra, camote tops, eggplant) and canned sardines. We work on a tight budget, on the support that some Christians in their kindness have sent me, for which I am most thankful. And the two young men understand. They understand that sometimes I have to go home to Pinyahan, Diliman, Quezon City, to eat when money is scarce. When that happens, Jay Ar, who lives nearby, goes home and get food to share with Erwin.

EVANGELISM RESULTS. Aside from the mothers and fathers that I teach in Bible classes at the building, I now have ongoing classes with Jay Ar’s parents, Lino and Lillian Oloya, and with Jay Ar’s sister Donna, and with Donna’s husband Randy.

Jay Ar’s parents attend our worship. Last Sunday, he also brought with him his aunt Agnes and his sister Kristel. I now have scheduled classes with Agnes and Kristel.

Jay Ar also bring his friends, Jayson and Joel, to the building, and I have studies with them. Last Thursday night, Joel came because his parents have been asking about the “sect” he has been studying with; he came and asked me questions, so I taught him a lesson on the true church. Our study lasted for two hours, until twelve midnight. He is a Jehovah’s Witness but has ceased attending that sect.

CHURCH ATTENDANCE. Our number has increased to 39 last Sunday. In past Sundays we had 30 people attending, which includes visitors and parents who study in our tutorial center.

Karen Luy Lazaro, a member of the church in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur, married a man from Valenzuela. Her husband, Raffy Lazaro, was baptized by Jonathan Pag-arao, a former student of mine who now preaches in Bulihan, Silang, Cavite. Both are now attending. Raffy also brings with him his brother to church. They are regular attendees in our Sunday worship since February of this year.

Aldrin, a young man who formerly worshipped in Kalookan, has chosen to worship with us in Valenzuela, since they just live nearby. He brought with him his sister named Charm, who is also a member of the church. Aldrin assists in the prayers and the Lord’s table.

Another is a sister named Evelyn Bayog, who was a former student of a Bible school operated by the instrumental church of Christ. Evelyn is from Bacolod City, but she has married a man from Valenzuela and works in a factory here. Evelyn has chosen to worship with us who do not use instruments in worship!

Still another is Shekinah Dalit, a young Christian lady from Narra, Palawan, who has migrated to Valenzuela. Her father is the preacher in the church of Narra. The Lord’s business of gathering His people wherever they may be sees no end, and we are happy to be used as His instrument in this ministry.

In our attendance is a man whom I am trying to influence. He is a former soldier and one of those who plotted to force Cory Aquino out of presidency! He has mellowed now, and listens to me preach. I have a class with him on Friday nights.

Our attendance has also been increased by the coming of members of Kalookan church, some of whom have not been able to attend the morning worship there, and have chosen to attend the afternoon worship in Valenzuela.

DEBT OF GRATITUDE. We are thankful to God for the two teachers from Kalookan, sister Agnes Macapagal and sister Nerizz Arias, who volunteer to teach the kids. Both are graduates of education degree, and are endowed with a great love for little children.

We are thankful to brother Randy Macapagal and the leaders of Kalookan church too who envision a program like this in order to reach out to people whom we can’t influence by any other means except by the tutorial center program.

And we are thankful to Prissy Sellers and the church in the US who supplied the educational materials, the school bags, the school uniforms, the tables and chairs, the educational Bible videos and the equipment that goes with it.

We are thankful to Kalookan church too for their all-out support for the work in Valenzuela, for their effort and time and money and technical support (we do not have a sound system in Valenzuela and definitely we are in need of one, and Kalookan brings their sound system Sunday afternoons so we could use them. My voice is so low–blame it on my age! The sound system is indeed a great help!

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Note: We have been receiving text messages from brethren from as far as north of Luzon soliciting our help to visit the people they had baptized who now have transferred near Valenzuela. There is such a family of 8 Christians who came from Calapacuan, Subic, Zambales, who claim to be members of the church but have not seen the necessity to attend worship in Valenzuela. We visited them not only once but twice and thrice. That is all we could do. But we are not in the business of bringing a horse to the water if that horse does not see the need to drink; we neither can impose a stricture on a disciple who does not see the need to worship with God’s people here. We urge preachers of the Lord’s church to properly teach those disciples the need to be faithful. If I be given a chance to visit people of this kind, I would not hesitate to teach him again the same foundational lessons, and I would not hesitate about dunking him again either. I have already dunked many who in the past have been immersed by some preachers, simply because these disciples think they have never been taught well. Don’t blame the disciple nor the preacher; I think the real culprit is  that being whom many think is a winged creature with two horns who’s been blamed for the misfortune of us all! 

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