How a Catholic from Rome, Italy was called to become a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.
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"I received a great grace from God"

By Marco Boni
Locale of Rome, Italy

I AM FROM the local congregation of Rome in the ecclesiastical district of Southern Europe. I was born here in Rome on July 11, 1953. I finished my studies with the degree of Geometry in 1972 and at present I am connected with a building enterprise and the civil tribune of Rome.

After my graduation and after doing some contractual jobs,   a great opportunity opened for me through an advertisement in a journal. I became part of an American association which was constructing an airport in Tehran under the Iranian government. I became curious about a co-worker who was always absent on Sunday afternoons. Iran, being a Muslim country, counts Sundays as working days while Thursdays and Fridays are nonworking days. I found out that those absences were part of the great sacrifices members of the Church of Christ do every time they are to perform their greatly treasured duties to God during worship service days in a country where such adoration is equivalent to death. In my curiosity, I attended their worship services. I felt their warm hospitality and I felt that there was something inside of me that longed for an explanation. To this day I am touched with the solemnity; and spirituality of the worship services. 

 In September 1978, a revolution broke out in Iran. In February 1979, I escaped and fled to Rome. I was able t attend the worship services at York Hotel. In spite of the hardships, I continued participating, for I felt a dire need to do so. For exactly 20 years, I listened to the words of God under different ministers who were always ready to answer my questions about the tiresome praises of priests on the mysteries of the Catholic faith. In 1990 Brother Rizalino Santos, the resident minister at that time, started to teach me the fundamental biblical doctrines of the Church of Christ. Any question I asked him he answered by reading verses in the Bible, never in his own words and neither did he pronounce the prophetic sentence of the Catholic priests that it is a "mystery of the faith"!  One of the doctrines that touched me deeply is the truth regarding God and Jesus Christ who, according to some religions are one, but in the Bible, they are two and are entirely different. Also, I was amazed at how all members in the Church of Christ from the youngest to the oldest—receive the same teaching from the Bible. What determined my choice to become a member of the Church of Christ was when I asked Brother Santos to show me where in the Bible we can read that Jesus Christ is not God. He took by hand the Bible and read to me different verses, among which are: John 17:3, John 20:17, and I Timothy 2:5. These verses left me surprised, especially John 20:17 wherein Jesus Christ makes clear that He is not God. In the light of this truth, I asked where the Catholic Church draws the origin of the teaching regarding the so-called Trinity. He read two passages from the book "Discourses on the Apostles Creed" written by a Catholic priest in which it says that in the Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D., the Catholic Church defined that it was an article of faith that Jesus Christ is God; and in the Council of Constantinople, in 381 A.D., that the Holy Spirit is God. There are no biblical bases of the teaching of the so-called Trinity. This fact made me deeply upset, so much that I asked a priest whom I recognized then for an explanation. But rather than answering me in a calm manner, he was outraged and sent me away. After a long and in-depth study of the doctrines in the Church of Christ, I received the holy baptism on January 27, 1991. My life changed totally from everything I was in the past and I started to propagate and share my newfound faith with my countrymen.

When I told  my   family   and relatives   about  my   decision,   they persecuted  me  heavily, telling  me that I was a foolish man. My father and aunt, a theology teacher, were my more tireless persecutors. My father accused me of wasting my time in the Church of Christ rather than thinking about my work and my future. He used  my cousin as an example of someone   who   flourished   and  successful in life, while I, for him. remained just an ordinary man. What he did not realize then was that I was really thinking about my future since I understood that life on earth with all its wealth is nothing compared to  eternal life, for which I have worked hard   until   today.   My   relatives and my friends often say   to me: "By remaining alone, you will understand that you have made a mistake!" They do not know however that I am not alone because to be united with our Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is more precious. I now have another family, a more numerous  one than the first, in other words, my brothers and sisters in the faith. But later on, my persecutors started to respect me and have admitted that they acted improperly.   What   amazes   them. most is that I have never showed any grudge toward them in spite of everything. On the contrary, I have  always loved them and I have helped them in moments of need. My father was the first to admit his errors and, before his passing, he had begun to attend the worship services mainly in the local congregation of Naples, where he said he felt he belonged to a family. My aunt is very close to me now. She tells everyone that she is proud of me because I have proven to have an unshakeable faith and that I am determined in my choices. Every time we talk about religion, she cannot do anything less than to marvel, since every time she asks me a question I tell her the answer from the Bible.

In September 2002, Brother Robert H. Pellien, the Southern Europe district minister that  time, informed   me through a letter dated July 11,2002 that I was officially assigned as interpreter and volunteer preacher of the Church of Christ. From then on, I started preaching in the Italian language at different congregations here in Italy and   did  translations   at   different grand evangelical missions. I started helping the Church Administration in   translating  the  worship  service lessons into Italian and a very great grace    from   God   showered    upon me when I was given the chance to be the interpreter of our Executive Minister   then,   Brother   Erano   G. Manalo, during the dedication to God of the house of worship of the local congregation of Rome in 1994. From that day on, graces poured, especially in my spiritual life. I became a deacon, district trainer, and the vice president of the district Buklod organization.

Today I have a fundamental aim in life—to remain a faithful servant of God. I am not rich materially, but I am instead rich spiritually. I am happy that I did not surrender to the persecutions that I encountered. God has always been beside me and has guided me all these years. I am fully aware that my life is in His hands and everything that has happened to me in the past and what will happen to me in the future is His plan. I pray that He increase my faith and protect me every day from persecutions and temptations, so that I can continue to remain a faithful member of the Church of Christ until the end of my life.

With all my heart, I would like to thank God Almighty for calling me to His true Church and for giving me the chance to be an instrument for the propagation of His words here in my country. I plead for His blessings, so that I can perform all the duties He had given me, along with my promise to serve Him and our Lord Jesus Christ until death. I will do all my best to contribute to the success of the Church of Christ until it reaches its perfection.

I exhort all those who are not yet members of the Church of Christ: "My beloved, since I consider you all as such, do not lose time, think of your future, join the Church of Christ, this is for your true life  This is the only way for you to have the certainty to be saved on Judgment Day!"  

Source: Juanuary 2011, God's Message, p.38

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