Grace and peace from our Father.
Got your email in Word Ministry. Great job bro, your publication is very inspiring and we praise the Lord for such wonderful gift.
If it’s ok if I could contribute an article in memory of our sister Rose Lagua from Ilagan Isabela , wife of bro Baldomero Lagua Sr. who recently passed away from Kidney failure. Many brethren from from the Cagayan region attended the wake. Bro Bert Brania was the necro speaker. The Lagua family are the pillars of the Ilagan church of Christ. It was a sad occasion since sis Rose was the partner of bro Bal in bringing the gospel to Ilagan like Aquila and Priscilla in the Bible.
Attached is an article of how we met the couple during our first year of being a christian and how our songs lead us to the true church in Ilagan Isabela.
Hope someday we can meet at the Family Life Center at Session so that I could learn from you more knowledge of how to bring the lost to Him who calls us all.
May our Father bless all the works we have for Him.
Thank you so much. Keep up the great work brother. For sure our Father is well please.
In Christ Love,
JoJo and Janet Ramos
Family Life Center
God’s Little True Church
By: JoJo A. Ramos 05-11-05
Let me share to you an unforgettable and glorious experience we had in Ilagan; the capital town of Isabela province, where God showed us another face of His church.
We were bound for my wife’s hometown to attend to the wake of her aunt. At first, we were worried knowing that our weeklong stay would fall on the 1st day of the week. Spiritually, like little children we were scared to be separated for the first time from Midtown Church of Christ.
However, the fear transformed into excitement when brother Andy gave us the list of the Churches of Christ and their ministers in the whole province assuring us of their warm welcome in worshiping our Father.
Studying the list, there was only one church in the town proper of Ilagan and all other churches were located in remote barrios. One was located barely an hour travel to Cauayan City and the most numbered congregation was an hour and a half to Santiago City .
As we began our 9 hours trek, we were excited and discussed the churches of Christ in the province. If ever we would find one along the highway we would stop and say hello.
But sadly there was none. We might have passed them by, not seeing their signboards along the highway. What caught our attention were the “the other churches”…
Like towering palaces in prime locations.
Strategically situated to merge state and religious positions.
Their majestic cool colors and well kept surroundings.
Showing holiness and purity in their own understandings.
Like patterned by one creator, one designer, one builder…
I guess they are right for all were founded by Felix their messenger.
They have unity, persistence and their own word to guide them.
They have influence, power and one vote to unite them.
They were an alluring site…
Like road signs scattered along the road.
Calling attention to drivers as they drove.
Their signages scattered from left to right,-from town to town.
Being mesmerized by their familiar biblical sounds.
Fellowship, Christian, Pentecost, miracle, the light, the bread and many more.
Attracting eyes of Bible readers in their path… changing course.
They believe in the Holy Bible as their rule of faith.
Oh…what mixed emotions we had concerning their state..
We were happy and glad they broke “the traditions”.
Though gloomy and sad… deficient in knowledge, compromising scriptures.
With their additions and subtractions.
They were a bewildering site…
Like ancient castles guarding their traditions.
A rule of faith patterned on all generations.
They worship in flocks with all their saints and adorations.
They fervently pray with too many repetitions.
Their dominance can be seen through their signs and symbols.
Images and pictures of holies hanged in shivering walls.
Names of saints, angels,-of the mother,-of the child-forged piety installed.
Smeared in business, houses, streets, towns and cities heresies unfold.
Declaring their traditions more holy than that revealed truth foretold.
They are a dominant site…sacramental dangers foreseen but untold.
Seeing these churches made us more inspired to search for the “true church”, the Church that Jesus built (Matt. 16: 18). The body of Christ (Col. 1: 18, 24; Eph. 4: 12) where the lord added daily those who were being saved (Acts 2: 47). The possession (Eph. 1:14) which was purchased by Christ blood (Acts 20: 28). The church that Jesus died for (Eph. 5: 25-27). The church where Christ is the head (Eph. 5: 23). The “true church” where Christians can sing praises to the Lord (Heb. 2: 12) and spiritual songs, singing and making melodies in their hearts to the Lord (Eph. 5: 19). The House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and foundation of the TRUTH ( 1 Tim. 3: 15). The “true church” where the SEED –the Word of God (Luke 8: 11) was planted. The “true church” having OBEDIENCE to the PATTERN OF SOUND WORDS ( 2 Tim. 1: 13-14)… SOUND DOCTRINES (Titus 2: 1-15)… SOUND INSTRUCTIONS ( 2 Tim. 3: 16)… SOUND TEACHINGS (Col. 1: 28)… the “true church” as revealed by the Word of God… THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST.
We arrived in Ilagan, Isabela. It was hot. After seeing the “other churches” along the way, we were exited to meet our brethren in my wife’s hometown. Days went by fulfilling our itinerary; visiting relatives and friends and attending the wake…but still, we could not find the Church of Christ . Observing the people; like anywhere in the world, with all their vices, -ways of men and deep and honest devotion to religion, I kept thinking that there must be a “true church” here…the church, as revealed by the Word of God… the church that Christ built (Matt. 16: 18) like:“…the churches of God which is at Corinth (1 Co. 1: 2), …the church which was at Jerusalem (Acts 8: 1), …the churches of Galatia (Ga. 1: 2), …the church in Philemon’s house (Philemon 1: 2), …the church which is in Aquila and Priscilla’s house (Ro. 16: 5; 1 Co. 16: 19)…The church that strictly adheres to the Word of God and follow the same APOSTOLIC PATTERN as revealed in the New Testament. The church where Christians live a SPIRITUALLY CONSERVATIVE LIFE OF NO COMPROMISE in the interpretations of our Father’s instructions. That where the Bible speaks, they speak and when the Bible is silent, they are silent, respecting God’s sovereign and wisdom knowing that the Bible is sufficient (John 20: 31). The church composing of all baptized believers are added by the Lord daily those who are being saved (Acts 2: 47).
It was Friday and Sunday was fast approaching, still we haven’t found the Calamagui Church of Christ. Our last resort was to worship at home and call up Midtown for the recipe for the unleavened bread. But knowing that there was something missing in our worship assembly, for there was only me and my wife Janet as members. Realizing this was not a last resort, I prayed to our Father to lead me to the “true church” and find Him.
So I searched… in my search, I came upon denominations after denominations…
I have seen their churches… some large, some small.
Some fully air-conditioned… some with fans, some none at all.
Some complete with musical instruments…sound systems galore.
Some with feelings, miracles, prophesy and tongues that they may not be bored.
Some with young pastors… young overseers… young elders… maturity immature.
Some with woman pastors… confused ladies with zealous faith… danger for sure.
Some with concrete slabs… with marbles, tiles, and granite… all fragile floors.
Some invited me for worship… but empty… so empty… though open doors.
Seeing these, I realize that God was showing me things. Then one young pastor told me there was a Church of Christ barely 1 km. from Calamagui. Without hesitation, I hurried to the area. I saw a large signboard showing in big plain letters “ Church of Christ ”. Could they be the one? I asked. It was large. The church was still under renovation. I entered. It was empty, no soul at sight. Again, I asked, could they be the one? The church seemed untidy. The benches were disarranged. They have a pulpit. They have a Xerox copy of one of our worship songs. Again I asked, could they be the one? I called out, but no one answered. I made noises… still no one came. I went out and searched. The church area was wide. I saw a path leading down to the basement. I saw a house. I saw children. Then I heard laughers, joys of young men. I met them, 3 young preachers. I introduced myself as their brother from Midtown church of Christ . They introduced themselves as preachers graduating from Apari Bible Seminary managed by the “churches of Christ”.. At that instance, I felt happy and joyful. Again, I asked myself; could they be the one? Then their words answered my question… they called me PASTOR, they called themselves pastors, so young… so immature. They invited me and my family to worship with them. I asked them; do they sing praises to the Lord? They answered me loudly… bragging they have the best band musicians in town. I was silent at that moment. Then I realized how my feelings deceived me. They were not the one. They were not the “true church”. I told them I was looking for my brother. However, they heard no such name. They informed me many drop-by their church also looking for brother Bal. Again, I felt the excitement rushing through my veins. Then the young pastors told me laughingly, they knew of a thin man, a preacher of the Bible with his family, who conducts Bible studies at homes. Sarcastically, they told me if ever there were churches of Christ within the area they would have known for they were located along the highway and have the largest signage. They were even uncertain if the thin preacher had a church or congregation. My excitement was so pumped-up, being silent as they all spoke. So I interrupted their joy and asked them do they know where my brother was? One answered; hearing from their neighbors, that the thin preacher and his family was worshiping in an apartment beside the NBI building, in front of a printing press. Instantly, I stood up. I thank the young pastors and hurriedly step out. I left them with their joy and knew God had showed me another church…
The church of Christ they say.
With young pastors enjoying their play.
Like large buildings, so high and mighty… reaching the sky.
All covered with glass, when light strikes… dazzling the eyes.
When brethren are drawn… a pattern is shown.
A face mirrored on its wall… a pattern unknown.
Deceiving in nature, the devil has grown.
Their joy shall not last… it will all be thrown.
I drove so fast. As I arrived, I saw the apartment. It was along the highway. I parked my car. Got out and again saw nothing. The apartment was small… empty. There was no signage… no physical evidence of a church, which once stood there. I asked one of their neighbors. He was also new in the area but delightedly told me that he was hearing beautiful singing with voices so pure touching the heart of one passing by. But when the singing stopped… silence was heard, he knew the voices transferred. Though no physical evidence of a church, the spiritual evidence was strong. I felt warmth… I felt hope in my heart…I knew I was near. Again, I asked another neighbor. They told me brother Bal transferred nearby. Then they called out a young child. She looked at me smilingly. They told me she was brother Bal’s daughter. I felt happy. They called her older sister, she immediately offered her hands; like the ones we do at Midtown. She greeted me with a beautiful smile and said: “HELLO BROTHER…” After all the experience of excitement and exhilaration in my search, her simple words gave me PEACE. I knew they were the one….
I found the true church… the Church Of Christ .
The church that first started from Peter’s first cry.
A revelation foretold by our Lord Jesus Christ.
That Peter’s reply… was the rock… the church of Christ .
The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it… as prophesied.
The church that Christ built… revealed inside me… not in my eyes.
God showed me the other churches… that I may realize.
A prediction foretold… that they would apostatize.
We have one Father… we have the same Christ.
Unknown to them was the pattern… revealed in God’s eyes.
Meeting our young sisters in Christ, I asked the whereabouts of their father; brother Bal, and their congregation. They led me to a rough road and eagerly told me they were building a chapel. They explained they could not afford the rent of the apartment where they used to live and conduct their worship assembly. Happily they told to me that their father bought a piece of land where they will construct a house, a guest room for visiting brethren like me and a chapel all side by side. Looking ahead in front of us, I notice what seemed like a community of white houses in a cemented road. At first, I was amazed that the area was populated. Then Rosemarine, the eldest told me we arrived.. I realized that the community of white houses was a cemetery with small residential houses alongside it. Rosemarine pointed to their house. I saw a structure, a 5 m. width hollow block wall fronting a 35-40 sqm. leveled ground with unfinished surrounding column and beams. She informed me that the chapel would be built there. I noticed a young tree in the middle of the lot. Beside the wall was a semi-finished room where she excitedly explained that it was their temporary home and soon to be a guest room and kitchen. Next to it was a 40 sqm. lot with unfinished construction of a small house. It was their future home. She was very excited. But I saw no one working. I asked. She told me her father stopped the construction. I understand. I noticed someone digging. It was his older brother digging a septic tank. Again, he offered his hand and said; “HELLO BROTHER”. He told me brother Bal and sister Rose; their mother, went to town. So I waited. My long wait was relaxing as I sat in the shade of the small tree within the area of the future church. I remembered a lesson where early Christians worshiped God and preached the gospel in roads, under trees and in homes. I felt excited as I realized that we would be worshiping our Father under a tree like in some first century assembly. I felt peace as I waited. It was about 4:30 pm I saw a thin old man together with a longhaired woman, side by side coming down the path I came. They looked at me. I was looking at them. Our eyes met. We smiled. I could not contain myself. I shouted; “HELLO BROTHER”. I introduced myself. They introduced themselves. Our shake was hard, gripping each other’s hands as if we missed each other for so long. We felt the oneness of the Holy Spirit. I felt so complete and at peace. We sat under the small tree, while sister Rose prepared watermelon. We talked about the churches of Christ. He told me some of our brethrens in the province had gone the wrong path, some became “one cup”… some used instrumental music. They were influenced by their financial supporters from the US . He was sad. I encouraged him. Facing the hollow blocks wall, I explain that seemingly the wall was likened to the Church that Christ built. All the hollow blocks cemented together and supported by a foundation of beam and column were the different congregations of the churches of Christ. If one or more hollow blocks will be damaged or destroyed completely, the whole wall will still remain standing since the foundation is still supported by God’s column and beam… God’s Word. As we could see within each hollow blocks are iron bars connecting them to the column and beam representing Christ’s veins connecting each congregation… even if one or more congregation shall be demolished the others will be unaffected.
We talked for hours. We talked until darkness came. I noticed they have no electricity yet, but the radiant glow of the Holy Spirit gave us light. They informed me their family came from the San Antonio church of Christ and their congregation was barely a year old with 20-30 members. He was conducting Bible studies at homes and in the market. He invited us to a river the coming Saturday were 3 formerly Baptist were to be Baptize into Christ. He was very excited. I was very happy that night. Everything was complete. It was late. He invited for worship, and cautioned me that it would be very hot since they have no roof yet and we will be under the sun. I told him nothing could stop us from worshiping our Father. Not even the inconvenience of heat. He laughingly agreed and said; besides it is hotter in hell for we will be burned eternally. Here on earth we can hide under the shade of this small tree and find comfort as he points to the small tree within in the assembly area… like the church of Christ in this material world. I told him I was going to help him tomorrow; Saturday, and provide for a temporary roof.. He accepted. Everything was set.
Sunday came. We woke up early. We were preparing for the 9 am worship assembly. He texted me, requesting me to deliver the sermon. This was my first time. I accepted with all my heart. I knew God wanted this after showing me all the other churches and teaching me the true church… the Church that Christ built (Matt. 16:18). I had a wonderful topic. The same topic in my recent article; “Why are we few?…knowing that we are in the true church ‘. We arrived, Net, our little Rico, Ditas, both my in-laws and me. The Ilagan Church of Christ greeted us. Everything was glorious and wonderful… in GOD’s LITTLE TRUE CHURCH..
Seeing with my heart… I found the Church of Christ .
Guided by God’s Word… the only pattern for us to realize.
An abode for sinners who were called by God’s all knowing eyes.
That they may be saved and comforted in the Body of Christ.
That when the time shall come as we Christians look ahead.
The day that our Lord Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead.
The day when all crop… all nurtured and grown from the seed.
Shall be harvested and stored… in God’s kingdom well received.
While others will be uprooted and burned in the lake of fire.
For they have deceived many… growing from their own desire.
Day by day, I thank the Lord… for my family’s sake.
That we are in the true church and not swimming in the lake..
For here, we are shown God’s true wisdom, knowledge and instructions for our faith.
The Church of Christ … being cleansed with Jesus’ blood… while we all wait.
GLORY TO GOD!