(Eagle News) — The Iglesia Ni Cristo continues its fast spread in Africa, as it established a foothold in 16 countries in this dark continent in just this year alone.
Under the leadership of INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, two new chapels were dedicated and eight more are to be opened in 2017. Conversions and baptisms have been particularly aggressive in South Africa and Kenya.
“This has been a particularly challenging year for the INC, but we’ve hurdled all obstacles thrown our way. We’ve come out a stronger, more unified church,” said INC general auditor Glicerio B. Santos Jr. in a statement.
“INC is now a globalized church which welcomes all races and persuasions,” Santos added.
He said that thousands had been baptized in Africa, and they are not Filipinos, but the locals based in the continent.
“Baptism is the final act before one becomes a member. We’ve had thousands of baptisms in Africa, and these involve locals, not Filipinos based in the continent.” Santos said.
Outreach programs of the INC were also held in King Williams Town, Johannesburg and Ladybrand in South Africa, Nairobi and Kiberia in Kenya, and Maseru and Semongkong in Lesotho.
Aside from this, the INC has also established eco-farming communities in South Africa.
The government of South Africa itself highly regards the Iglesia Ni Cristo as it recognized the milestone achievements of the Church in Africa.
Proof of this is the courtesy call made by South African ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Martin Slabber, to INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo on July 20 this year at the INC Central Office in Quezon City.
He also greeted the INC Executive Minister on the occasion of the seventh year anniversary of his dynamic leadership in the Church last September.
In his congratulatory message to Brother Manalo, Ambassador Slabber said the Iglesia Ni Cristo has “an important role to play not only in the lives of the members of the Church, but in the lives of the Filipino people, and people also here in the world.”
Other dignitaries – Senator Rory J. Respicio, the majority leader of Guam’s 33rd legislature, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Effie Ben Matityau, and Ambassador Amanda Gorely of Australia and Ambassador David Strachan of New Zealand — also made similar courtesy calls to the INC executive Minister at the INC Central Office in Quezon City in September this year.
These visits serve as proof of the high regard of various governments all over the world for the INC.
-More Africans declare they are proud to be INC-
In the continent of Africa, more and more local residents are declaring they are proud to have become members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or the Church of Christ.
They are fulfilling the call of the INC to help in the propagation activities of the Church and to show to everbody that they are proud to be a member of the Church – the INC theme which was launched this year.
“I’m really a proud member. I always talk to my friends and other people about the Church of Christ,” saud Mojabeng Monatisa, an INC member from the local congregation of QwaQwa.
“I want to invite as many people as I want,” Monatisa said. “I want to people to know what I know, to come to the truth, to the true Church of Christ.”
Potlako Sekokotana, an INC member in the group worship service of Swartklip, said he had always felt that God put him on this earth for a reason.
“And that purpose, I still believe is to share my faith with the people of Africa,” he said.
After witnessing the brethren’s love and enthusiasm first hand in August 2014 during his first pastoral visit to King William’s Town in South Africa, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo sent five ministers of the gospel to meet and oversee brethren and propagate in various areas of South Africa.
After a little more than a year, the group worship services in Johannesburg, Lady Brand, Cape Town, Qwa Qwa and Maseru have now grown into local congregations. Group worship services in Swarthklip, Durban, Manzini and Casablanca have now been established.
In August this year alone, two buildings of worship – one in Cape Town and another in Johannesburg – were dedicated to God in worship services officiated by Brother Eduardo.
The gathering of INC members in South Africa began in 1977. A Church member, Rogelio M. Rafols Sr., arrived in the country to work under the United Nations Development Program as a medical doctor. Together with his family, Rogelio searched for the other Filipinos who went to Africa for work. Trained as a volunteer Church officer, Rogelio was permitted to share the teachings of the INC to Africans. The Church continued to grow until it reached the nearby countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Zambia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Swaziland, Uganda, Morrocco, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan.
-Many hindrances overcome as propagation activities succeed –
Madodandile Tyulu, resident minister in Johannesburg, South Africa, explained how Africa is known as a poor continent.
“You know Africa is known to be a poor… poorer country than many. That is what Africa is known for,” he said.
“Even though the brethren we are looked at like that, in the eyes of our Lord God, we are special to Him,” Tyulu said.
INC minister Pepito Acuesta said that the poverty in Africa meant that there were hindrances and many difficulties to hurdle in the INC’s intensive propagation efforts in the continent.
“In Africa because of their poverty, it’s not easy for our brethren to reach places where we could conduct Bible studies. And when we schedule a Bible study in one place, it is also not easy for our guests who are visitors to be in the place that we prescribed for our Bible activity,” Acuesta said.
“There are hindrances, difficulties are always around. There are problems that brethren face. But despite all hindrances that they face, members of the Church of Christ here in the continent of Afirca and Europe are performing their office with all their might,” he said.
Acuesta added, “It is indeed true that members of the Church of Christ are indeed proud to be members of the Church of Christ. They don’t just say this, they prove this through their commitment to doing the task entrusted to them by the Church Administration. And we received the guidance and above all the inspiration from our Church Administration and for that reason, our districts here in Africa and Europe became successful in their propagation and edification.”
–South Africans express admiration for the INC-
On August 21 this year, the INC conducted a big outreach event that benefited thousands of African people.
In that event, the organizer, Lesedi Mapheto, said he was amazed that the INC was able to feed 25,000 people.
“Thank you, thank you very much,” he said.
The event was held in Ivory Park Sports stadium. Thousands of people were invited as the INC gave thousands of food bags in Tembisa.
“Your Church is great, and this is the first time I saw a Church this great. The Church of Christ – May God help it grow and flourish here,” said one of the South African residents who attended the event.
As God continued to guide the INC’s growth in South Africa, the INC brethren there vowed to continue on and invite more of their countrymen to listen to the words of God. They are also thankful that they have become members of the Church – the Iglesia Ni Cristo that was first registered in the Philippines, on the other side of their world, on July 27, 1914
“It’s comforting to know that we have salvation already promised because we are part of the Church. Because of such things it’s like, ‘Okay God, I realize where I am and thank you that I am part of the Church of Christ,” said Jabulile Mbonambi, a church member from Johannesburg.
For Jabulile, she would do anything for the Church.
“If I was told tomorrow that I have to go to a very deserted area just so that I could be a part of anything to do with the Church, it doesn’t matter. I won’t even think twice. I’ll just go because my membership means my life to me,” she said.