I remember the moment distinctly when Bro. Eli Soriano, whom I have accustomed to seeing in person weekly in our Thanksgiving service, said during a call that he couldn't go back to the Philippines, and he didn't know when either.
Our enemies in faith and in the government back then succeeded in filing unbelievable charges against him in court, ultimately forcing him to leave the country.
During the closing prayer, the whole Ang Dating Daan Convention Center sounded as if hordes of bees buzzed together simultaneously. The old stage, where we offered our songs of praise to God, resounded with sobs. I was fond of sitting by the stairs of the stage just so I could listen more intently and closely to the man whom I have heard things about the Lord and the Bible of which I will fail time and time again to try and find human words to describe.
I remember jotting down on my notes the title of the topic we studied, whether on that same Thanksgiving or the following I'm not sure. But certainly, it went something like this: Why the seemingly bad events that are happening now to the Church of God will be for its good according to the Bible.
That was 12 eventful years ago.
Fast forward to 2017, or in the Hebrew Calendar we follow, Year 5777, I saw just how the words of God that guided, contained and were discussed in that topic became realized.
The circumstances drove the preaching of Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel Razon far into the West, particularly, Brazil. Who knew there would be so much people eagerly awaiting there to be reached by the words of God that these two Filipino men have been broadcasting for more than three decades thousands of miles away?
Someone clearly did, especially as something like that cannot be easily categorized as coincidental or hallucinatory.
There was a moment, when it was our Brazilian brethren's turn to give thanks on stage that I just stood from my seat to sing and dance with them as I saw the other Philippine delegates do the same. It was an electrifying moment. If I could just translate here the chills I felt, I would.
It was just one of the awe-inducing moments that I bear in my heart of that blessed opportunity and experience I was lucky to have had. Another of course, was seeing Bro. Eli again.
Before my trip, my mom and I bought handkerchiefs, because I just knew what was going to happen. Tears just fell from my eyes, well into the topic proper when Bro. Eli was discussing it and doing his best to translate it into four different languages.
It was his birthday in the spirit or his baptismal day. And there were so many things that had happened. I also cried when I saw Kuya Daniel up close, which I don't get to do in Apalit. The seats are a first-come-first-serve basis so traveling hours from the south, I usually don't get that privilege.
There are no words to express just seeing them. Much more, being so close to them.
Well, so many things really.
I remember a moment in my life: It was ROTC day (sort of required military training before in the country, though back then, it kind of felt it really wasn't) and it was Sunday.
Across the soccer field, the priest held a mass. Our platoon was in an outlying corner of the area. When it came to the homily part, I went and sat on the grass to draw nearer to the priest, in my belief that it's the most important part of the service, because it was when the words of God would be discussed.
Well, as many of remaining Catholics themselves can attest, the sermon isn't as it promises. And so, with no offense meant and with all honesty, what I mean to say in short is: That's the priest. This is Bro. Eli.
I didn't know that there was a Church of God in the Bible. It was a moment during indoctrination I remembered asking, "E meron naman palang ganun, ba't hindi yun ang ipinapangaral?" (So there is such. Why isn't it the one being preached?)
And as I continued to listen to Bro. Eli read verses of the Bible, the more I realized that if only we had heard His undefiled words early on, things would fare a lot better.
I wasn't able to tell Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel many things. Usually, due to lack of opportunity, courage, emotional control, and even so, scrambling to figure out the right means to convey what I would want to say.
So let me humbly amend the lyrics of a popular song:
Well, so much for moments here on earth. They only last so long.
So hopefully, in eternity, where the year, the month, the day, has no end, I hope to have one moment with Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel, where I could say in a tight embrace all the things I could not even begin to say here. For one thing, my gratitude, firstly and forever will be (hopefully) to the Lord.
Dreams can happen. :)