Bloggers Blog 3-Day International Thanksgiving Live on Facebook
Pampanga, Philippines (29 December 2008) – To capture minute-by-minute scenarios in the three-day International Thanksgiving of the Members Church of God, International (MCGI), which started 27th of December to last until the 29th held in Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) Convention Center, Apalit, Pampanga, brethren of the congregation blog the events live on Facebook.
Creator of the event page, Ren Newman, and administrator Ryan Borja, began inviting brethren in mid-November to come to the International Thanksgiving celebration and participate in sharing their experiences during the event through blogging. Sixty-one brethren have confirmed to participate. Active internet users, however, are concentrated in Asia, including those from the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Oman, while others are from the United States.
Patterned after the unique celebration of the first century Christian Church in the Bible, MCGI offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving to the God of Israel quarterly. Bro. Eli Soriano, MCGI Presiding Minister, announced to the congregation a few months prior to the event that they would celebrate the thanksgiving for three days. It was formerly a two-day affair held semi-annually, but was recently changed to a three-day affair held quarterly to adhere to biblical prophecies.
Before the event, participating bloggers expressed their excitement and enthusiasm, escalating up to the day before the celebration. Comments can be found in the "Wall" of the Event page “Pasalamat ng Buong Kapatiran (PBK)”, or Thanksgiving of the Whole Brotherhood, on Facebook. Administrator Borja and other bloggers, who were already in the venue, reported the following at different hours on December 26:
“In several hours Members of Church of God International will have their big event that will take place somewhere in the Philippines. The exact location of the pilgrimage is the well-known ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. Inside, the early ones are already setting up their tents, while some are preparing their reserved spots in the convention center.” – Robert Clarita (1:35 pm)
“One of the Church's ministers boomed on stage that the three-story Transient Home is now opened for everyone. The disabled, handicapped and elderly widows were already escorted and accommodated in this shelter to have a temporary dwelling area. The Church's presiding ministers previously announced that this bigger Transient Home is being built inside the Convention Center in response to the successful launch of the same project in Quezon City [in Manila] through its charitable arm, Kamanggagawa Foundation.” – Ryan Borja (2:29 pm)
“Walking past the Convention Center, the experience is like squeezing yourself in a very tiny needle hole now. It is only 7:41 pm, but this venue is already packed with brethren coming from different provinces, countries and cities in Metropolitan Manila.” (7:45 pm)
“At the still-being-constructed Transient Home, loud cheers are overheard outside when a big truck stopped by and deliver more than a hundred new kutson (bed comforter) for the brethren who will be staying here for the next three days.” (8:10 pm)
“At the Orphanage inside the ADD Convention Center compound, one person interviewed, Bro. Art Cubangbang informs this blogger how fortunate the physically-disabled, the elderly widows and other orphans are. He said that there are attending physicians stationed at the area and ready to provide care, the food is served on time and not a single soul is neglected. This is made possible by the continuous efforts by Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon to provide the proper welfare and care to these less-privileged members and even non-members of the Church.” (8:27 pm)
On December 27, the first day of the event, comments on the Wall showered in.
“The PBK venue here in Singapore is already jam-packed with brethrens. Currently singing along with the hymns.” – Joseph Perdon (7:55 am)
“Medley of joyful hymns was sung first. After 25 minutes, it shifted into solemn hymns.” – Robert Clarita (8:16 am)
“Countries monitoring the event from as far as Africa, South America, Europe, Middle East and some neighboring countries in Asia are being announced by VP Bro. Daniel Razon.” – Ryan Borja (8:50 am)
“South Korea; Madrid, Spain; Kaohsiung and Taoyuan, Taiwan chapters are now giving thanks to God. (11:27 am) Now it's Bangkok, Thailand chapter giving thanks. (11:29 am) Wales, United Kingdom; Guam, New York, Reno Nevada, USA; and Vietnam chapters [are] now showing their videos of greetings and thanksgiving to God. (11:33 am) Now Locales of Singapore, Austria, Netherlands, Germany and Shanghai China! (11:35 am)” – Phillip Garcia
“Brethrens in Singapore are waiting for the Foreign Ministry's turn to offer our song of Thanksgiving to God.” – Joseph Perdon (1:42 pm)
“Immediately following the Kawan ng Cordero thanksgiving number, The Kapisanan ng Kabataan Tungo sa Kasakdalan, the steadfast youth of the Church, rush towards the stage with a gusto. They are offering their thanksgiving to the God of Israel after all, and that deserves more than a quick and enthusiastic run. With bowed heads and tearful eyes they sing The Youth Towards Perfection. They sing in testimony to God's kindness, love and mercy.” – Pol Arellano (1:57 pm)
Kawan ng Cordero (KNC) or Lamb’s Fold is the group of children from age 13 years and under in MCGI. They are the members’ children. KNC Workers are assigned to them who teach them the Scriptures and help them develop their skills in different fields. On the other hand, Kapisanan ng Kabataan Tungo sa Kasakdalan (KKTK) or Congregation of Youth Towards Perfection is the group of unmarried brethren 14 years old and above. It is the group where most other groups are created, such as the Music Ministry, Teatro Kristiyano (Christian Theatre), and Lingap Kapatid (Brethren Care) Department. Most Church Workers also come from this group.
After singing praises to the God of Israel, it was time for the congregation to study the words of God. It was Bro. Eli’s turn to preach the Gospel to the brethren worldwide through live video streaming, emanating somewhere in America.
“MIC Testing 1-2-3-4-5-6-7! Bro. Eli now tests his microphone. Greeted everyone, every member from different countries monitoring the International Thanksgiving. (3:02 pm)” – Ryan Borja
“There is a truth that sanctifies - HIS words! Great to know that!” – Guada Redrico (4:30 pm)
“ADD Convention is now jam-packed of the faithful believers, considering there are monitoring centers in different locales not only here in the Philippines but also abroad. I thank God to witness this significant event, once again as God show His loving-kindness and mercy to His chosen people in this dispensation.” – Josephine Navarro (5:20 pm)
“Bro. Eli shared before the congregation his experiences in traveling to different places and meeting people from different races. He admitted that he wants to be back home and see the brethren in the Philippines in person, but he believes that his fate is part of God's plan as he was able to see how great the responsibility and duty of the Church is in propagating God's words since he left the Philippines.” – Joyce Esteban (8:18 pm)
“Brethren went into tears as Bro. Eli confesses how he misses preaching inside the convention center.” – ChrisAnne Gonzales (8:27 pm)
“Bro. Eli is now teaching the significance of numbers in the Bible: the number of the beast and the perfect number to counter it.” – Phillip Garcia (10:43 pm)
“One’s diet should depend on the body's physical activities. This is what Bro. Eli shared in the earlier part of the program as it resume after dinner. A person whose work requires minimal physical activities can settle with fruits and herbs, just like Adam’s diet when he was in Eden. On the other hand, a person whose work requires a lot of physical activities should add grains to this diet, such as bread, rice, and starch as sources of carbohydrates to suffice his body’s physical needs. Just like Adam who adds bread in his diet of fruits and herbs when he was required to till the land and plant when they were sent forth out of Eden.” – Joyce Esteban (11:02 pm)
On day 2, December 28, a steady flow of live blogging went on.
“It's day two! Let's all sing with grace in our hearts.” – Amiel Pascual (7:44 am)
“Yes, day two. The Congregational singing of the songs in the Hymn book starts at exactly 7 am. As announced yesterday by Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, half of the day will be devoted for the consultation. During consultations, members are given the chance to directly ask our preachers vital questions of faith, issues that need to be resolved.” – Ryan Borja (7:53 am)
“Short break was announced.” – Ryan Borja (10:28 am)
“Brethren rush about to and fro foods stalls and comfort room while they wait for the consultation to resume. Some brethren are stealing few minutes to power nap to prepare themselves for yet another long and fantastic day of Thanksgiving to God!” – ChrisAnne Gonzales (11:12 am)
“The consultation with Bro. Eli has just resumed. He is answering a question from a member in Dubai. He came to know the truth by listening to Mp3. It was one our preachers' projects to propagate the word of God by distributing FREE mp3 players which contain Biblical teachings.” – Amiel Pascual (11:52 am)
“Some of the issues being answered by Bro. Eli are relevant to many attendees who were dealing with the same concerns. As usual, these are being answered intelligently based on logic and facts from the Scriptures by the phenomenal preacher.” – Robert Clarita (2:09 pm)
“Questions from Papua New Guinea is now being served.” – Ren Newman (12:15 pm)
“The consultation resumed a little while ago. First question came from members who lined up to ask Bro. Eli at the ADD Convention Center.” – Ryan Borja (2:32 pm)
“Bro Eli is now answering a question from a Singaporean member, Bro. Simon.” – Amiel Pascual (2:47 pm)
“Presently, a newly baptized brethren, an African-American woman in Oregon is the consulter.” – Robert Clarita (3:38 pm)
“Brethren in Ghana, Africa is now being shown on the monitor singing their praises and thanksgiving to God. They are singing a Tagalog song! (5:13 pm) That was most inspiring, seeing brethren in Papua New Guinea singing praises to God, and the persecutions that they went through before they were able to join the Church of God International. (5:34 pm)" – Phillip Garcia
Now on its third day, December 29, bloggers continue to cover the event piece by piece.
“It's the third day! It seems that the 3-day of Thanksgiving is not enough, a week perhaps? A month? Forever! The gladness in our hearts is overflowing!” – Amiel Pascual (7:31 am)
“The brethren is now singing Hymn No. 18, a song that reminds Christians the most beautiful face in the universe, the face of God, which is His righteousness and loving-kindness, seen when His begotten Son Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sake of the sinners.” – Phillip Garcia (7:57 am)
“Third day of International Thanksgiving is a history in the making today. After a short recap of the topic last night, Bro Mel proceeds with the introductory phase of the today's topic.” – Robert Clarita (8:55 am)
“If everybody in the world applies the principle that we learned last night, we can achieve world peace.” – Charles Dumaraos (10:23 am)
“Fantastic! Another wisdom has just taught to us by Bro. Daniel. He explained that if we are doing things against the will of God, we are making Him serve with our sins (Isa 43:24). “If we don't want God [to] serve us, let us NOT indulge ourselves in sinning." – Bro. Eli Soriano” – Amiel Pascual (4:48 pm)
The three-day International Thanksgiving of the Members Church of God, International is still ongoing. There are still a few hours left. Bloggers are still blogging live to cover the event with the aid of modern technology and with the interactive features provided by Facebook.
Next quarter of the year, covering the event is expected to be much wider and more extensive.
“Perhaps this will intensify further for the next PBK.” – Ryan Borja, Event page Administrator.