A solution to the scarcity of saints in our times?

 

The Catholic Church had a abundance of saints during the Middle Ages. Sainthood then required three ways for one to be declared a saint, namely, “a Servant of God heroically lived a life of Christian virtues or had been martyred for the faith. The third, less common way, is called an equivalent or equipollent canonization: when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize the veneration as saints.”

The early Catholic Church canonized many martyrs who died for the faith during the Roman pesecutions. There were many monks and hermits who lived heroically and ther were others venerated by the common folk without Church approval but eventually listed as saints.

The saints canonized at the present time are very few and some of them did not live during our time.

The present pope has approved a new path to sainthood which is a “heroic act of loving service.” This new path does not specify that the candidate for sainthood should be a member of the Catholic Church.

So, we can expect more of those who lived during the contemporary period to be canonized as saints.


Source: http://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-approves-new-path-sainthood-heroic-act-loving-service

The fault in the stars

The (mis)guidance given by
horoscopes, lucky charms,
and other divination tecniques

By MANDY A. NEPOMUCENO

HOROSCOPE COLUMNS are a familiar section in newspapers and astrology-related books and magazine articles are a glut on the market, while talks and programs about them even pepper the television and radio. A city study suggests that over 90% of adults around the world know their zodiac signs; there is even a thriving astrological community online (Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement. Routledge, 2012).

There are also people, old and young alike, men or women, in various nationalities and cultures who perform rituals or acquire ornaments or knickknacks, believing that those can enhance their fortune and “charm” luck to their side. Truly, the allure of these things endures even in this age of technology. It is one thing to know or read about them; to believe in them is another. A ready justification is always that it is “a bit of fun.” Still, there are people who take charms and “readings” very seriously. For them, these give meaning to otherwise random events in their lives. They rely heavily and even make important life decisions based entirely on predictions or amulets, putting their entire trust even when addressing the biggest, most profound issues. And if disappointments come, they blame the fault in their stars, while frantically searching for another trinket they believe would be more effective and powerful.

Should someone who truly believes in the Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ also be found owning a lucky charm or engaging in the practice of astrology? Is it just harmless fun to engross oneself in them or are they potentially dangerous to one’s soul?

 

A treacherous paradox

Astrology, a divination technique, is the belief that the stars and planets strongly influence our lives. People who are into it claim that to understand its appeal is to get comfortable with paradoxes: It feels simultaneously cosmic and personal; spiritual and logical; ineffable and concrete; real and unreal. (Julie Beck, “The New Age Of Astrology,” 18 January 2018, The Atlantic). Aside from astrology, there are also dozens and quite possibly hundreds of methods of prediction that fit into the category of divination. Since earliest times, some people have gazed into the skies to predict their future—from the Babylonians and Egyptians in 2000 BC to the Greeks and Romans in 200 BC (James Herschel Holden, A History Of Horoscopic Astrology, 1996).

In the same vein, lucky charms are prevalent in most world cultures, and have been for eons. They might be a lucky pair of socks, or a piece of jewelry; whatever the item, or even in the arrangement of living spaces according to what they claim as mystical energy levels—some people turn to them to help achieve a goal.

What makes them appealing to others is their promise to supply answers for both the “big” and “little” questions people regularly face. For instance, from giving character analyses to providing daily advice, those beliefs claim to offer a systematic approach by which people can make order in their lives (www.equip.org/perspectives/divination). These become even more seductive because some people claim that they work! Thus, to naively and outrightly proclaim that they do not work will never get anyone to give them up.

What needs to be shown is how offensive those are before the Almighty God. The Bible proclaims, thus:

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.” (Deut. 18:10-12 New International Version)

Those beliefs are insulting to God because they attribute to planets and stars and other things the power that belongs to God alone and because they try to find His will by means other than what He has appointed. Throughout the Bible we are taught that God Himself, not the stars, will guide us in our life’s journey and big decisions:

“Our God is merciful and tender. He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us and to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death, to guide our steps into the path of peace.” (uke 1:78-79 Good News Bible)

The Almighty God reveals to us that the key to receiving His blessings is obedience to His commands, not in performing vain rituals or obtaining any fancy object:

“The holy God of Israel, the LORD who saves you, says: ‘I am the LORD your God, the one who wants to teach you for your own good and direct you in the way you should go. If only you had listened to my commands! Then blessings would have flowed for you like a stream that never goes dry. Victory would have come to you like the waves that roll on the shore.” (Isa. 48:17-18 GNB)

All forms of divination, thus, should be rejected. Trusting in them instead of in God’s providence is a gross violation of the first and greatest commandment. Apostle Paul urged believers to test everything and hold fast to that which is good (I Thess. 5:21) and not to be deceived by empty philosophy (Col. 2:8), false prophets (Matt. 7:15), or any belief that can potentially lead people away from the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Those things have the same jarring ramification: to lead people into embracing false doctrine, thus distorting their understanding of God’s revealed truth. Hence, believing in horoscopes and the like, and even in lucky charms, is hardly an innocent and harmless activity.
They are, in fact, very dangerous, that is why they should be avoided at all costs. We should not go there. Not even for curiosity. Nothing at all about them is “lucky.”

 

No luck needed

There is a reason the word “luck” does not appear in the Bible (an exception is the paraphrased The Message, which uses it as slang or to mean “blessing”). Luck and belief in divination certainly would not help anybody escape from condemnation of God. Prophet Isaiah even spoke with derision to those who believe in such:

“Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by.” (Isa. 47:12-14 NIV)

What we need is to trust in God, not in those things. Those who trust in God and in what He can do are not “disturbed by unusual sights in the sky” (Jer. 10:2 GNB). We should seek guidance not from heavenly bodies, but from our heavenly Father who has made everything:

“I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my strong protector; he is my shelter. Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.” (Ps. 62:5-8 GNB).

The Almighty God leads us, not toward destruction and condemnation, but toward our salvation:

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:3-4 New King James Version)

What we need then is not luck, but the truth. The truth is the words of God (John 17:17). The truth that will lead us to salvation is spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ:

“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold.

“I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe’.” (John 10:7, 9 Revised English Bible)

The sheepfold or flock where people should come into or enter is none other than the “Church Of Christ” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). Our aspiration to be safe, secured, and protected should lead us not to divination methods but to the true Church Of Christ, which is guaranteed with redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ. The correct path is not in or among the stars; rather, the right path is Christ, and to walk in Him is to obey His commands, one of which is to enter His Church.

 

 

 

What the stars say

The Bible has much to say about the stars. Most basic to our understanding of the stars is that God created them. They show His power and majesty. The heavens are God’s “handiwork” (Ps. 8:3; 19:1 NKJV). He has all the stars numbered and named (Ps. 14:7:4). However, it should be clear to us that God forbids His people to give credit or fear the constellations and conjunctions of stars and planets which have no power of themselves but are governed by Him. He derides their vain confidence, who put their trust in anything but in Him, condemning also such, which serve no use, but to delude the people and to take them away from depending only on Him.

The stars should awaken our wonder at God’s power, wisdom, and infinitude. We could use the stars to keep track of time and place and, more importantly, to remind us that God is faithful and almighty. All the while, we acknowledge the Creator of the heavens our wisdom comes from God, not the stars (James 1:5). The Word of God, the Bible, is our guide through life (Ps. 119:105) Our savior is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:31). We do not need psychics, horoscopes, lucky charms, Ouija boards, feng shui, magical statues, guaranteed novenas, or any other divination because, as Apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 12:9, God’s grace is enough.

Miracles and Graven Images

Are miracles attributed to graven
images a manifestation of God’s power?

It is not the Almighty God’s power that is behind the miracles purportedly manifested by graven images of saints, because He Himself declared that “I will not give My glory to another. … Nor My praise to graven images” (Isa. 48:11; 42:8 New King James Version).

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” (Exod. 20:3-5 NKJV)

Even in the Christian Era, “God’s anger is revealed … against all the sin and evil of the people” who “know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him … instead of worshiping the immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles … they worship and serve what God has created instead of the Creator himself” (Rom. 1:18, 21, 23, 25 Today’s English Version).

According to the apostles, these alleged miracles with graven images fall under the workings of the devil: “The Wicked One will come with the power of Satan and perform all kinds of false miracles and wonders, and use every kind of wicked deceit” (II Thess. 2:9-10 TEV).

Such miracles will also be used by preachers in order to attract people, but according to the Lord Jesus Christ, “For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear; they will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible” (Matt. 24:24 TEV).

People should therefore be wary, rather than afraid, of these supposedly miraculous idols because the Lord God said, “Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree and carve an idol, and decorate it with gold and silver and fasten it securely in place with hammer and nails, so that it won’t fall over, and there stands their god … It cannot speak, and it must be carried, for it cannot walk. Don’t be afraid of such a god for it can neither harm nor help, or do you any good” (Jer. 10:3-5 Living Bible). For being wickedly deceived by “false miracles and wonders,” idolaters will not be saved, but instead they “will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth” (II Thess. 2:9-10 TEV).


Source: God’s Message Magazine, April 2018

THE VALUE OF COMPLETE OBEDIENCE

 

The Fall of Jericho

Though it seemed impossible to conquer the city of Jericho, the Israelites, led by Joshua, completely followed God’s instructions. By faith and complete obedience, the walls of the city fell down.

PROLOGUE

Before receiving instructions from God on how to conquer the city of Jericho Joshua saw the commander of the army of the Lord standing some distance in front of him holding a sword. Joshua ell to his knees and bowed down to the ground. After asking the commander what to do, Joshua took off his sandals. Meanwhile, the people of Jericho had been locking the gates in their town wall because they were afraid of the Israelites. No one could go out or come in (Josh. 5:13-15; 6:1).

The fall of Jericho

THE LORD SAID TO JOSHUA:   With my help, you and your army will defeat the king of Jericho and his army, and you will capture the town. Here is how to do it: March slowly around Jericho once a day for six days. Take along the sacred chest and have seven priests walk in front of it, carrying trumpets. But on the seventh day, march slowly around the town seven times while the priests blow their trumpets. Then the priests will blast on their trumpets, and everyone else will shout. The wall will fall down, and your soldiers can go straight in from ever side. Joshua called the priests together and said, Take the chest and have seven priests carry trumpets and march ahead of it.”

Next, he gave the army their orders: March slowly around Jericho. A few of you will go ahead of the chest to guard it, but most of you will follow it. Don’t shout the battle cry or yell or even talk until the day I tell you to. The let out a shout!”

As soon as Joshua finished giving the orders, the army started marching. One group of soldiers led the way, with seven priests marching behind them and bowing trumpets. Then came the priests carrying the chest, followed by the rest of the soldiers. They obeyed Joshua’s orders and carried the chest once around the town before returning to camp for the night.

Early next morning, Joshua and everyone else started marching around Jericho in the same ore as the day before One group o soldiers was in front, followed by the seven priests with trumpets and the priests who carried the chest. The rest of the army came next. The seven priests blew their trumpets while everyone marched slowly around Jericho and back to camp. They did this once a day for six days.

On the seventh day, the army got up at daybreak. They marched slowly around Jericho the same as they had done for the past six days, except on this day they went around seven times. Then the priests blew the trumpets, and Joshua yelled:

Get ready to shout! The LORD will let you capture this town. But you must destroy it and everything in it, to show that it now belongs to the LORD. The woman Rahab helped the spies we sent, so protect her and the others who are inside her house. But kill everyone else in the town. The silver and gold and everything made of bronze and iron belong to the LORD and must be put in his treasury. Be careful to follow these instructions, because if you see something you want and take it, the LORD will destroy Israel. And it will be all your fault.

The priests blew their trumpets again, and the soldiers shouted as loud as they could. The walls of Jericho fell flat. Then the soldiers rushed up the hill, went straight into the town, and captured it. They killed everyone, men and women, young and old, everyone except Rahab and the others in her house. They even killed every cow, sheep, and donkey.

Joshua said to the two men who had been spies, “Ragab kept you safe when I sent you to Jericho. We promised to protect her and her family, and we will keep that promise. Now go into her house and bring them out.”

The two men went into Rahab’s house and brought her out, along with her father and mother, her brothers, and her other relative. Rahab and he family had to stay in a place just outside the Israelite army camp. But later they were allowed to live among the Israelites, and her descendants still do.

The Israelites took the silver and gold and the things made of bronze and iron and put them with the rest of the treasure that was kept at the LORD’s house. Finally, they set fire to Jericho and everything in it.

After Jericho was destroyed, Joshua warned the people, “Someday a man will rebuild Jericho, but the LORD will put a curse on him, and the man’s oldest son will die when he starts to build the town wall. And by the time he finishes the wall and puts gates in it, all his children will be dead.” The LORD helped Joshua in everything he did and Joshua was famous everywhere in Canaan.


(Quoted from Joshua 6:2-27 Contemporary English Version)
Illustration by Nestor G Malgapo Sr.

Let God direct our lives

“‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.”   
(Isaiah 55:8-9, New Living Translation)

IT SEEMS IRONIC that the world’s lone superpower has 40 million of its citizens living in poverty. Forty million—that’s more than the population of Canada, and more than 1½ times that of the Australian continent.

“The United States [of America],” wrote Philip Alston of the United Nations, “is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries. But neither wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million [Americans] continue to live in poverty” (The Guardian Online, December 15, 2017).  

Arif Husain, chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), revealed for the first time in a decade, the number of people suffering hunger is back on rise (Hurriyet Daily News Online, December 17, 2017). He disclosed that the number of people who “go to bed hungry each night has risen from 777 million to 815 million today.”

What’s going on?

Although man has made great strides in food production and technology, hundreds of millions today are still suffering from chronic malnutrition. Around 22,000 children die daily due to starvation (UNICEF). And despite huge scientific breakthroughs in health and medicine, millions still die from various diseases and plagues.

It is quite obvious that despite man’s persistent efforts to improve his life and living conditions, his lot does not seem to get any better. Why?

 

Mortals cannot run their own lives

It is within man’s power to take charge of his life and put it in order? Can he chart his own course and steer his life toward a good end? The Bible answers:

“I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their lives, That men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.” (Jer. 10:23 The Message)

Man, on his own, is incapable of running his own life. The Bible further illustrates his inability to take charge of his life by pointing out how completely oblivious he is of what lies before him:

“A person never knows what will happen to him next. He is like a fish caught in a net—the fish does not know what will happen. In the same way a person is trapped by the bad things that suddenly happen to him.” (Eccles. 9:12 Easy-to-Read Version)

Try to recall some of the recent disasters in history—the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed close to a quarter million people, the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017—and ask yourself: If the people who perished in those tragedies knew in advance they would happen, would have they gone to those places? Man, undeniably, is totally clueless on what the future brings.

 

Knowledge increases sorrow

What if man acquires immense wisdom—will it solve all his problems and ensure his good fortune? King Solomon, a man of notable achievements, regrettably says no:

“I spoke with my heart, saying, ‘Behold, I have acquired great [human] wisdom and experience, more than all who were over all Jerusalem before me; and my mind had observed a wealth of [moral] wisdom and [scientific] knowledge.’ And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. For in much [human] wisdom there is a much displeasure and  exasperation; increasing knowledge increases sorrow.” (Eccles. 1:16-18 Amplified Bible 2015)

IF earthly wisdom were the cure-all to man’s woes, as others may believe, then life would have been trouble-free for those who have acquired it Sadly, that is not the case. For even people of notable educational achievements are not spared from life’s pains and sorrows.

 

The One Who can assure man’s good

It behooves us, then to know: Who alone can bring what is good for man? The Creator Himself declares:

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hoe’.” (Jer. 29:11 New Living Translation)

Only the all-powerful God can bring man a future filled with hope. The Lord Almighty alone knows what is best for an and only He can direct man’s steps toward his ultimate good.

Sadly, there are those who think that they do not need God to show them the way; that they—on their own, using their own knowledge and faculties00can make their aspirations come true. Should man even think that his wisdom is on a par with God’s? Are human thoughts the same as that of the Almighty? The Lord answers:

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.” (Isa. 55:8-0 NLT)

A drop in a vast ocean—that’s how infinitesimal and inferior man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man to trust in his own power and wisdom in bringing about the good future he hopes for.

 

Placing our trust in God

In whom, then, should man place his trust? The Bible says:

“Trust the LORD and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Let the LORD lead you and trust him to help. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right.” (Ps. 37:3-6 Contemporary English Version)

Man, clearly, is not the master of his own destiny. Instead of directing his own course,, he must commend himself and his future to the hands of his Creator, Who—as stated in a preceding verse—knows the good plans He has for man.

 

God’s master plan

What is one of God’s plans for man that would bring about his good and the future he hopes for? Apostle Paul says,

“May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the church through Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:21 Living Bible)

More than his well-being here on earth, it is man’s ultimate good—his salvation on Judgment Day—that God earnestly desires for him. In fact, the ever-compassionate God wants all man to be saved by coming to know the truth (I Tim.2:3-4). And God’s master plan for man’s salvation is intended for the Church through the Lord Jesus Christ.

How can man avail himself of the great opportunity to receive salvation which God plans for the Church through Christ? The Lord Jesus, the appointed Savior, says:

“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe’.” (John 10:7,9 Revised English Bible)

The fold or flock which Christ commands people to enter in order to receive salvation is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). It is His Church which Christ promised to save and which the second death will not overcome (Eph. 5:23-25; Matt. 16:18 Today’s English Version; Rev. 20:14)).

 

Headed toward destruction

With this world rapidly spiraling toward its end, man should realize that all his toils and strivings to make his life on earth better are futile. God has appointed a day when this earth and everything in it will be destroyed by fire (II Pet. 3:7, 10). The only way he can attain his ultimate good—salvation on Judgment Day and attainment of life everlasting in the Holy City—is by allowing God to direct his life and be included in His master plan of salvation, that is, by becoming a member of the Church Of Christ.


By DENNIS C. LOVENDINO

Based on the lesson taught by Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo during his pastoral visit to Niugan, Laguna, RP on January 6, 2018

‘They went into the synagogue on Sabbath day’

 

Tony Balatayo of San Diego, CA, USA asks the Editor of God’s Message magazine:

“PLEASE ADVISE ME with regard to the verses Luke 6:6; Mark 6:1-2; Acts 13:13-14, 16:13; 17:2; 18:4 in which it is taught that Jesus and the apostles ‘went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.’ Furthermore, Christ pronounced in Mark 2:27-28, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ 

“Whose Sabbath is this that Christ Jesus and the apostles were observing? Had Christ made His own Sabbath?”

 

Editor’s reply:

The Sabbath being referred to in the verses you quoted is none other than that which God commanded to the ancient Israelites as a sign of His covenant with them (Exod. 31:16, Deut. 5:1-3, 12-14; Mal. 4:4). They were to observe the Sabbath to commemorate their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, hence it was exclusive to the Israelites as it was they who became slaves in Egypt (Deut. 5:15, Today’s English Version). Observance of the Sabbath includes strict prohibition on doing one’s work on the ‘seventh day’ that even kindling of fire (Exod. 35:3) and cooking (Exod. 16:23) were forbidden, let alone plowing and harvesting (Exod. 34:21).

The biblical verses you listed in your letter do not teach that Christ and the apostles observed this Sabbath, or an Sabbath for that matter. Though these do state that Christ and the apostles went into the synagogue on Sabbaths, the verses themselves clarify their purpose in going there—”to teach” (Mark 6:2; Luke 6:6), “to speak” (Acts 13:14-16; 16:13), to preach (Acts 13:42), and to reason with people (Acts 17:2; 18:4). During the Sabbath the Jews in Christ’s time would gather in the synagogue, hence Christ and the apostles made use of such opportune times to preach the gospel to many people.

The biblical accounts of Jesus’ healing the sick on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:11-13; Luke 13:10-17) and His disciples working on that day (Luke 16:1-5) all the more show that the observance of the Sabbath was not their practice. In fact, Christ was even accused by Sabbath observers of being “not from God” for not obeying the Sabbath law (John 9:16).

The incident in which Jesus declared ‘the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath … the Son of Man is also “Lord of the Sabbath” even more underscores His consistency in not keeping the Sabbath law. Jesus then was defending His disciples who plucked the heads of grain in the fields on the Sabbath: “Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’ But He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?’ And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:23-28, New King James Version).

Christ’s being “the Lord of the Sabbath”, only means that He is above it and not bound by it, as He Himself demonstrated in His actions. But, by not observing the Sabbath, did Christ and His apostles violate any of Gods laws? No, for it was God Himself who had put an end to the observance of the Sabbath (Lam. 2:6; Hos. 2:11, TEV).

Proving that such a law is no longer in effect in the Christian Era, the apostle Paul teaches us this concerning the Sabbath: “Let no one criticize you in food or drink, or in matters concerning festivals, new moons, or the Sabbath. … These doctrines may seem to be profound because they speak of religious observance and humility and of disregarding the body. In fact, they are useless in overcoming selfishness” (Col. 2:16, 23 Christian Community Bible).

 

REACHING OUT TO THE PEOPLE OF KIBERA

WHENEVER ABJECT POVERTY is discussed in the context of community and social condition, the Kibera slum in Kenya will never be forgotten to be mentioned. This slum is considered the biggest and poorest urban slum in Africa (www.advance-africa.com) and one of the largest in the world (www.kibera.org.uk). Although study results  about he exact population of Kibera differ, survey experts are one as witnesses to testify to the reality—hundreds of thousands of extremely poor people are suffering in this slum area.

 

Kibera is also regarded as “one of the most studied slums in Africa (www.researchgate.net) not only because it is found almost in the middle of the progressive city of Nairobi, which is the capital and the largest city of Kenya, but it is also situated near the headquarters on UN Habitat, the United Nations’ agency that studies human settlement and urban development, which is based at the heart of Nairobi City. It is estimated that the people in the slum of Kibera live only on less than $1 a day (worldpopulationreview.com) and more than 50% of the people here are unemployed (www.kibera.org.uk). In view of such severe economic condition—not to mention the poor sanitation in the entire community and the lack of access to basic services including electricity, sewage system, medical care, clean water, among others—there is no denying that the people in Kibera badly need assistance.

Being aware of the wretched condition of the Kiberans and as part of the antipoverty campaign of the Church Of Christ, the Executive Minister of the Church Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, instructed the staff of the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, Inc. and the district staff of the ecclesiastical district of Africa to organize an outreach activity through the Church’s Aid to Humanity program. To ensure not only the success but also the orderliness of the activity, planning and preparations were carefully carried out. And several days before the event, invitations and coupons were distributed to the residents of Kibera.

Early morning of November 25, 2016, the Jahmuri Park Show Ground, which is the cradle of he Nairobi International Trade Fair, was filled with an estimated 25,000 Kiberans who were the beneficiaries of this humanitarian mission. Food packages and grocery items were doled out to all who were in attendance. Every Kiberan present was filled with the overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude. In view of this momentous feeling of joy and gratitude. In view of this momentous event, Mr. David Ole Shani, the Deputy of Kenya Police, gladly remarked, “This is the first time that we have such a kind of exercise conducted by a Church. It is a large congregation that has never been held since before.” And driven further by his appreciation and gratefulness for what the Church Of Christ has done for the Kiberans, Mr. Ole Shani added, “The Church [Church Of Christ] all the way from the Philippines coming here shows that you people have a real concern for us. And I thank you very much.”

The Church Of Christ not only provided provisions to the people in Kibera but also shared with them the biblical truth about the true Church which is far more important to receive, for it will certainly lead them to salvation on Judgment Day. Thus, ministers of the Church expounded on this. Through a video presentation, the Kiberans came to know about the Church Of Christ and its noble purpose in reaching out to them. And since such kind of immense outreach activity conducted by a Church was the first in Nairobi City wherein thousands of Kiberans benefited both materially and most especially spiritually, Mr. Joseph Onyango, the Deputy Registrar of Societies of the Republic of Kenya, exclaimed in delight, “I would like to thank the Iglesia Ni Cristo for their kind gesture I have seen today. We appreciate it very, very much and we thank the Church wholeheartedly I would like to say I welcome the Iglesia Ni Cristo here in Kenya.”


Source: God’s Message Magazine