“There is no better way to live our lives than to live by the intent of our Creator” – Bro. Eli Soriano
An unforgettable encounter
When my grandmother died of heart attack, it was as if the pain caused by her death was unbearable. But nothing beats the hurt that cuts deep into my heart by what happened during her wake. Yet, I consider that opportunity something of importance, a great chance that helped make me stronger. It was because I have gained the best opportunity to defend someone dear to me.
When someone is dear to you, you couldn’t just sit back while people spoke ill of that person. The person am talking about is Bro. Eli Soriano. Even though I considered my grandmother dear to me, so is Bro. Eli, ever since that moment when I learned the truth of the Bible through him.
I am the kind of person who hardly show up at any family get-together, so being there, at my grandmother’s wake in June last year was quite unusual in itself. The last time I saw her alive was at the burial of my maternal grandfather. I think they said she insisted to come. I loved her for that and regret the times I couldn’t spend with her.
My mother text-messaged me one Sunday morning and broke the news. I was in Pampanga at the time and left in quite haste. I had decided to visit her wake with my paternal uncle.
At the wake, he introduced me to a few relatives. I’ve seen a few of them before; and most are already familiar of me. Incidentally, this was because I had also attended the wake of my second-cousin who died in February. (It was a car accident.)
I took a long look inside the coffin—a long last look at my grandmother, who, even in death, wore a smile. Before I went there, my heart was heavy with guilt knowing that she had expressed how much she loved to see us but I couldn’t make the time.
There were a few among our relatives who took notice of me. They eyed me strangely, and I thought I knew why. I took a liking to one of the elder women who dressed familiarly simple. She had her hair in a bun and wore a long skirt. Finally, she asked, “You know, I’ve seen you before. You always seem to dress like that, very modest and meek.”
They were third-cousins perhaps once-removed. One thing led to another and I found out they belonged to Haligi ng Dios Kay Kristo Hesus. I had also told them of my faith, that I joined Members Church of God International (MCGI) recently. I mentioned that it was the group led by Bro. Eli Soriano. “You are knowledgeable of him, I believe,” I inquired of the woman who asked to be called Lilang. (Lilang refers to an old aunt in their province.)
I had been eager to find brethren among them. So it hurt my heart to hear how they were very contrary towards Brother Eli. It was not a surprise for I have already heard about the history of both our faiths.
Times Have Changed
On April 7, 1964, at the age of 17, Bro. Eli Soriano was baptized, joining a congregation of Christians then led by Bro. Nicholas Perez. (See: http://www.elisoriano.com/biography) After the death of Bro. Perez, there was disarray in tenet which led to the division of the church members allegiance to different people who claimed the right to lead them after Bro. Perez. One of the groups listened to Soriano, and the one which now claims the name Haligi ng Dios Kay Kristo Hesus, was led by the late Levita Gugulan.
I knew a different Bro. Eli from the one my Lilang had imposed from the stories told in their church. She claims to have worked with him back in the day, being a deaconess in their church. She says she felt it as a waste for such a man, who was so knowledgeable of the Bible and so good at defending it to turn corrupt. She tells me that she heard Brother Eli was infuriated to find Gugulan in the position of authority instead of him, so that is why he led some astray. These are all LIES! –lies of their congregation that scarred into their history; and she openly stated, “It’s so wasteful of you to be of Ang Dating Daan, with Soriano” to my face with a sympathetic front that left me pitying her instead. I saw her sorrow and her sister’s too. But my heart was heavy thinking how deceived they are.
It will be almost two years for me in the Church. Bro. Eli has been leading this congregation as a servant of God for five decades, and tomorrow marks his 51st year of service. If you ask any true brethren why we love Bro. Eli, they’d tell you that his sympathy for his fellowmen is sincere.
I have not been in the Church for that many years, but already I feel the power of the Holy Spirit working in Bro. Eli with every lesson he teaches based on the Holy Scriptures. My aunts told me these most-likely fabricated and/or exaggerated stories about Bro. Eli, in order to pull me out of the brotherhood, the Church I now knew. They pitied me and told me what a waste it was for me to be with the congregation, following after the biblical preaching of Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel. But I knew better. I stood fast to my faith for I knew that they were wrong.
Some people simply look into his eyes as he spoke, and they believed he preached in all honesty and commitment. But God works in ways you cannot imagine, that words do not stay merely words, but become actions. Members of the congregation work together, and this in itself is very inspiring.
Times have changed. The congregation he led since that time grew much stronger and much faithful. Lilang mentioned variations between the practices theirs during Bro. Perez’s times and ours now, and that is because Bro. Eli never ceased studying the Bible, improving the practices of faith of the brethren as we continued to grow.
A True Servant of God
As written in prophecy according to the Bible, many were called to the Church. Many turned back to the Lord through the efforts of the congregation which did sympathize with Bro. Eli and the work of God. I believe it so because I witnessed it myself.
I felt his compassion and dedication to the work of God. I realized so much here compared to when I was a catholic, a self-acclaimed non-denominational Christian, and later even a deist. It was only Brother Eli’s words that struck me, that intervened in my heart and changed my outlook in so many aspects of life completely.
If my Lilang were to read this, she’ll then know that I’ll never turn away from that, not even by the words of blood-relatives. It is justice to stand in the truth, and God is first before anyone else, even family; And I wish that everyone would realize that Bro. Eli is not what the fabricated stories and false accusations claim him to be.
And to Bro. Eli, in the fifty-first year of your service to God, beloved Brother Eli, I believe that God works in you. Happy 51st year in service to God Bro. Eli Soriano, Steward of Truth & Servant of God!