Many brethren have written to me to express their pains and sorrows concerning how the Church Administration and some of our brothers and sisters have handled the crisis that has blemished the Church that we love so dearly. We hurt because the very foundation of our lives… our happiness… has been turned upside down. Here is a letter written to me that I believe puts into words well the feelings that many of us can relate to.
Dear Brother INC Sentinel,
I have been following your blog since your post “Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness will Restore our Family” was published. I have been a member of the Church of Christ for all of my life. However, as a scientist by trade, I’ve always been taught to ask questions and to be skeptical of “the truth”. I try my best to read both sides of the story with an unbiased mind – this is why I appreciate the honesty of your blog, even though I find my heart aching when I read your straightforward analysis.
A few weeks ago, many of the officers of our locale were required to turn in statements stating that our allegiance was to Bro. Eduardo Manalo and the Church Administration. When I attempted to write my statement with my allegiance to “God and Our Lord Jesus Christ”, I was questioned further by the minister and other officers whether I was on the side of the expelled ministers or Brother Eduardo. Eventually, I turned in another statement swearing allegiance to “the Church Administration”. Since when have we been forced to choose between men? Have we not always been encouraged to choose Our Almighty God and Our Lord Jesus Christ?
I was once a Kadiwa officer, and there were many instances where we had brethren who turned away. Many had stopped attending worship service, others were blatantly committing offenses against God’s commandments (ex. living with boyfriend/girlfriend, married a nonmember, drinking/partying and posting pictures on FB). There was even one instance where a sister married a non-member, and submitted an affidavit saying that she no longer wished to be a member of the INC and did not believe in the teachings. Because of their love, the local leadership attempted to visit these brethren, and years passed before these brethren were delisted. In my self-righteous youth, I once asked my minister “Why does it take so long for these brethren to be expelled? They’ve already said that they don’t want to be a member of the Church. They’ve already given up on the Church. It’s no use trying to bring them back if they don’t want to be a member.” Our minister at the time was a very patient man, and he gently smiled and said, “They may have given up on the Church, but God has not given up on them. No matter what, they are still our brothers and sisters, and we must try our best to guide them back.”
Recently, there was a circular that stated the names of brethren who have been expelled. Many of them were those who attended the protest at USMO, and now we are forbidden to let them into any church activities or even to even associate ourselves with them. I was appalled! If we give so many chances to brethren who don’t believe, and have already rejected the church, why do we suddenly push away the brethren who are “going against the Church Administration“? How can we show so much love to brethren who have gone cold, but show so much hatred to brethren who love the Church so much that they are willing to risk their membership to bring attention to alleged corruption? Aren’t they still our brothers and sisters? If they are misled and misinformed, why do we not try to guide them back with love and understanding? Don’t both sides want the Church to succeed? Don’t we all love Our Almighty God?
I understand that in legal proceedings, that the burden of proof lies with the accuser. But even if the “Defenders” fail to provide evidence, there will always be whispers and inklings of corruption – unless the Administration can provide solid evidence that the finances of the Church are clean. Why not release the official ledgers of the Church when there is nothing to hide? Why not end this once and for all and have all of the brethren’s hearts at peace? My family members in the finance has confided to me that while the support for EVM and the Church Administration seems numerous, the offerings of the brethren are telling a different story. I guarantee you that once the brethren see the expenditures of the Church and if the funds are truly being used for the glory of God, their hearts will once again open, and they will give even more. The longer that the Church Administration waits to address these allegations, the more brethren will be hurt, discouraged, and lost.
How I long for the days when I would enter God’s house and feel the Holy Spirit – the days when I would hear lessons about God’s love and mercy, instead of His wrath against those who go against the Church Administration. Life is already so difficult to bear… When will we once again feel comfort and peace inside of the worship services?
When will this all end Brother Sentinel? I apologize for this long letter, but I have nowhere else to express my thoughts… I might be reported by my friends or even my own family members.
Godspeed Brother and may God continue to bless us all.
Your Sister in Christ,