The Church of Christ early years in the Far East under the stewardship of Brother Felix Y. Manalo
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The Church of Christ early years in the Far East
under the stewardship of Brother Felix Y. Manalo

Brother  Felix  Manalo   began preaching about the Church of Christ in Punta, Sta. Ana. At first a handful of people believed and he baptized them at the Pasig River. This was the first   baptism   conducted   by  the Church of Christ in the Philippines. The first converts became the first members of the oldest Iglesia ni Cristo local congregation - Punta, Sta. Ana.

The  next  congregation  of   the Church to be established was the local congregation of Tipas, in Taguig, the Messenger's hometown. Despite the persecution from his town mates, he courageously preached the  gospel resulting in the establishment of this local congregation.

Brother Manalo then applied for the registration of the Church of Christ with the Philippine government and  this was approved on the 27th of July 1914—concurrent with the outbreak of  the   First   World   War—just   as prophesied in the Scriptures.

From Taguig, the Messenger also preached in its neighboring towns, in Pateros and then in Pasig, which led to the establishment of local congregations in these places. 

After these, he went back to Manila and preached in the crowded place of Tondo in 1915. The small gatherings eventually grew bigger and bigger and started to attract the attention of many, which prompted not just a few religious leaders to challenge Brother Manalo in public debates.

In those debates, his rivals did not succeed in humiliating him. Instead, it was the other way around: they were the ones put to shame and the truthfulness of the teachings of God taught by the Messenger shone even brighter before the public. This was also a fulfillment of God's promise to His Messenger as recorded in Isaiah 41:9-15.

Despite the harsh persecutions, people continued to join the Church. In just one year since he started preaching the Church, he was able to establish five local congregations -the local congregations of Punta, Tipas, Pulo, Buting, and Tayuman.

The Messenger continued propgating the gospel not only in the above-mentioned localities but also in other places. He trained the Church officers whom he appointed in each local congregation. He still had to engage in religious debates with other preachers. At the same time, he also took care of the counseling and edification of the brethren who faced various problems. Having all these undertakings to shoulder, he still had to suffer the persecutions of his detractors.

But all these did not dampen his spirit nor did they detract from his. determination   because   his   only objective was to fulfill  the task entrusted to him by God. He was encouraged by his confidence that in carrying out his tasks God was always with him (Isa. 41:9-10).

At around that time, he started the teaching and training of would-be ministers who would help him in the propagation and edification of the Church. In May 1919, the very first ordination   of   the  Church    was conducted. Three   ministers   were ordained by Brother Manalo on that historic occasion.

From a handful of congregations at the start, the Church after its first decade of existence had a total of 45 congregations.  Fourteen   of   those local   congregations were  in   the province of Pampanga and   those congregations were brought together by Brother Felix Manalo to form one ecclesiastical Division or District.  The Messenger of God organized the Church as such to effectively oversee the brethren.

As the number of ministers and evangelical  workers  gradually increased,  the   Church   of   Christ continued to spread over the whole of Luzon and by 1937, the Church had  reached the Visayas. And before the outbreak of World War II, the Church had also reached Cotabato, a province in Mindanao.

In 1939, Brother Manato published the   first   issue   of   Pasugo:   God's Message, the official magazine of the Church of Christ.  This marked  the beginning of the propagation of the gospel by means of mass media.

When the Japanese invaded the country   in 1942,   the   Church  continued with its various spiritual endeavors in spite of the bombings and armed conflicts waged in different parts of the country. The brethren throughout the archipelago were caringly administered, and they remained active in attending the worship services and in sharing their faith.

The growth and spread of the Church increased at a phenomenal rate after the war. Membership of the focal congregations increased. And the need to build bigger houses of worship was compelling. In 1948, the Messenger built the first concrete house of worship of the Church at Washington Street (now known as Maceda Street), Sampaloc,  Manila and at present, it is still being used by the Local Congregation of Washington.

That event was the start of the construction of huge and magnificent houses of worship of the Church of Christ where worship services are. continuously being held, such as those of F. Manalo, Caloocan, Cubao, Pasay, Solis, Angeles City, Baguio City, Tipas, Paco, Bacoor, Cabanatuan City, Orani, Batangas City, Malabon, Tarlac, Lucena City, Cavite City, San Francisco del Monte, San Fernando, San Pablo City and many more that can be found all over the country.

Ten years before his demise, Brother Felix Manalo made sure that the assembly of ministers elected someone who would replace him as Church Administrator in the event that God would lay him to rest.   Brother  Erano  G. Manalo was unanimously elected to succeed him as Executive Minister by the district ministers gathered at the house of worship of the Local Congregation of Riverside  (now    the   local Congregation of F. Manalo) on January 23, 1953. There was ample time for the Messenger of God to prepare and train Brother Erano Manalo for such a noble task.


Source: Excerpt from a special report - 27 July 2008
               Church of Christ (Iglesia ni Cristo)
               94 years in the Philippines; 40 years of Overseas Mission

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