He was called into the kingdom by a means that you could say was divinely providential. This is his story.

IMG_20140830_172330One day in 1980, a lady whom he called sister Rafael was buying plow parts in a store near their halohalo booth. The sun was hot and the lady went to their store to order halohalo. Mrs. Lagua, who was manning the store said they had halohalo but it lacked another ingredient. Mrs. Rafael said never mind, please give us two. And so they ate halohalo that lacked an ingredient.

And as they ate, Mrs. Rafael’s mind wandered and saw a Bible displayed on the shelf. “Have you been reading the Bible?” she asked. Mrs. Lagua said yes. “Have you been listening to any radio program?” she asked further. Again Mrs. Lagua said yes. “In fact, we have for years been listening to a program titled AWAGANNACA NI CRISTO (Christ Is Calling You). The speaker is a certain Mr. Alejandro Ciencia.”

Mrs. Rafael’s eyes brightened up. “That man is our brother in Christ! Do you have any place to go this Sunday? We would like to invite you to our home. We worship there..”

Mr. Rafael was the one conducting the study that Sunday and the next Sundays. And as brother Rafael explained about the plan of God, about the church in the Bible, and about the way of salvation, Bal Lagua Sr. said he could not help comparing what he heard with what he read in the Bible!

Flashback: For years they as a couple had been meditating on the Word. They had been looking for the church that the Bible mentions about. They had visited the iglesia NI Cristo thinking that it is the same church the Bible is talking about. But he found their doctrines about the deity of Christ inconsistent with the Bible. Bal Sr. told his wife to go ahead and join that sect and find out more. But the wife too had some doubts about the sect.

But now they were sure that they had found the true church. What brother Rafael had been saying they too compared with what they read, and they had no doubt that this is it!

And so they submitted themselves for baptism, and brother Rafael said, “I will ask brother Eugene Awingan to baptize you.” So they waited for Eugene Awingan, but he did not come. They found out later that he was sick.

Their baptism delayed, they prayed that the Lord would send a man to baptize them. Then came Nic Fulgencio who visited the Rafaels. Nic Fulgencio baptized them. (Nic is now deceased).

The Laguas had bought a piece of property from the Tabacalera lands that had been for sale to the landless tenants. Bal Lagua Sr. resigned his job as revenue clerk of Ilagan because the pay was low, and decided to try farming. With the money he received from the government, he now had capital to start with. But farming did not seem to be his lot. He never made good in it.

He decided to try his luck in Manila. And while in Mania he worshipped with the Manila Church of Christ, ministered by Felipe Cariaga. In Manila, his wife’s relatives who were INC-1914 were vent on converting him, having heard that he was now a member of the Church of Christ. A debate was arranged between Felipe Cariaga and the INC-1914 but it did not push through.

Not finding a job in Manila, Bal Lagua Sr. went back to the province. He tried his luck in logging. He bought a chain saw, and employed a chain saw operator to do the cutting of trees for him. The logs he sold to the buyers. And while he was in the mountain, he did not miss worship! He would invite his men to worship with him (they were Catholics). He had brought with him the elements of the Lord’s Supper so he could worship anywhere when Sundays come. He had befriended many because of his winning ways, and in fact had been in contact with the NPAs in the mountain whom he also sought to convert to Christ.

Years later Eusebio Tanicala came and offered him an opportunity to study the Bible at Philippine Bible College-Baguio City. Brother Tanicala found him a supporter to support his family’s needs (abut P2,000 per month). Four years later, Brother Bal Lagua Sr. finished a bachelors degree i n Bible. He said he belonged to the last batch of students before PBC was closed.

Brother Tanicala also encouraged him to start a congregation in the town of ilagan, and sought funds to buy a piece of land on which a small chapel of Ilagan church of Christ now stands.

All of Bal Lagua’s sons and daughters are Christians. His son Bhal Garcia Lagua Jr. graduated with an education degree at Sunrise Christian College. His daughter Rowena Garcia Lagua also studied in that school, and had even finished a degree in Singapore. His two other sons assist Bhal Lagua Jr in ministering to the church of Ilagan City.

The lesson is clear: God sees all hearts, and sees the hearts of those who have been seeking the truth. Who would ever think that a couple who had dropped by a store and ate halohalo would guide such a heart to His kingdom? May His name be praised!



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