FILIPINO ADVENTIST CHURCHES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA ALIGNED FOR CHRIST
'To God be the glory! With God′s help our health evangelism was a success and we saw the commitment and the unity of every church that was involved in the evangelism.'
In a historic move, all six Filipino Seventh-day Adventist churches in the Metro-Vancouver area worked together toREACH the thousands of Filipinos in the Lower Mainland with a Christ-centred message of HOPE & WHOLENESS.
For the months of May and June, all six Filipino Seventh-day Adventist churches worked around the series of health-gospel presentations entitled "A Journey Through Life's Intricacies…Happiness Unfolds!" presented by Pastor Luis Bon, Jr.from the Philippines. The series culminated in the Filipino Association of Advent Believers in British Columbia (FAABBC) Camp Meeting held last June 26-28, 2015 at Camp Hope Lodge, Hope, British Columbia.
As a result of the health-gospel seminar, many inquired and showed deep interest about Jesus and His church. There were also 9 that accepted Jesus as their LORD and Saviour and joined the church through baptism and profession of faith: Kate Nicole Veniegas, Roberto Mercado, Lucy Mercado, Dr. Carlito Urbano and Thelma Urbano baptized at BC Camp Hope during the Filipino Camp Meeting; and followed by Remie Delos Reyes& Dominica Bagunu, Felmer Macadangdang &Bob Bailey.
The head elders of the churches: Vancouver Filipino SDA Church, Ed Flores; Burnaby Fil-Can SDA Church, Theody Malabanan; Abundant Life Community SDA Church, Ben Berto; Fraser Valley SDA Church, Cris Garzota; Surrey Filipino SDA Church, Florante Reyes; and RonCarcellar, president of the Filipino Association of Advent Believers in British Columbia (FAABBC), were the organizing committee to get the 5 Filipino churches aligned and working together. BC Conference Communications Director, Pastor Charles Ed II Aguilar and the pastors of the six Filipino churches PastorsLevi Estores, Jorge Tenorio, and Ken Naidoo also helped in the process.
The 6 Filipino Adventist Churches are currently doing follow-up work and discipleship of the seminar attendees.
Sickness Turns Life-long Catholics' Lives Around
"When my wife, Thelma, recovered from cancer four times, I considered it a MIRACLE . The sickness threw a monkey wrench in our lives. I had to stop working to care for her," said Dr. Carlito Urbano, a dentist in profession.
"That she recovered at all was to me a revelation of the love and goodness of God. He always hears our prayers. Although we were Roman Catholics for over 60 years, we were not regular in attending church services, in praying, and in reading the Bible."
Drs. Thelma and Carlito Urbano are the patients of Dr. Riccoh Talento. They had already gone to his dad, Romi's church in Surrey Adventist Church, and were given a Bible there. "We received the Bible but we did not have any interest in reading it. We still did not know much about the Bible."
On one visit to the clinic, Dr. and Mrs. Urbano were invited to attend an upcoming Health Evangelism in Surrey, at the Kennedy Hall along Scott Road., B.C. The speaker was Professor Luis Bon, an evangelist from the Philippines."Incidentally, we also met in the clinic Wilma Maranan, a classmate of mine" said Thelma, "in the Nursing School. We were happy to see her as we had not seen each other for a long time. We also found out that she is also a Seventh-day Adventist. Wilma also invited us to the Health Evangelism, and the speaker was going to be a Filipino who would be speaking in Pilipino as well. Because the seminar was on health, we gladly accepted the invitation to attend."
"There at the seminar," continued Dr. Carlito, in a space of two weeks, "our minds were opened, and our knowledge of the Word of God and our acquaintance with Jesus became deeper and better."
Thelma liked the seminar from Day 1, but Carlito seemed reluctant to return. However, due to Thelma's persistence in urging him to attend, his interest returned, aided by the clear explanation of the Bible by Professor Bon. They completed the series and they were the most interested attendees in studying the Bible. Before baptism, it was easier for Carlito to make a decision to be baptized, but Thelma was a bit reluctant because of her health and also was not sure if her knowledge of the truth was enough to qualify her for baptism.
Through the encouragement of Angie Berto, who booked their room and meal reservations for FAABBC, they attended the Filipino Camp Meeting. During the day of baptism, which was the high point of the Filipino Camp meeting in Camp Hope, they almost gave up hope of getting to the Camp, but God led them to be there in time for baptism. The brethren were good to them at Camp Hope, giving them love and encouragement and the more they felt the love of Jesus through the church members. They were baptized at the swimming pool with the others. Their daughter, Charisma, and her husband who were also supportive of their decision to surrender themselves to the Lord, witnessed the baptism. Before the hour, Thelma still had some doubts so she asked Pastor Bon to pray for her and after that she finally decided to be baptized. Praise the Lord!
Today, nurturing continues from the Fraser Valley Church and Abundant Life Community Church. They attend the weekly prayer meetings and receive more intensive Bible studies through JunJun Pedreso, elder of the Abundant Life Community Church. They rejoice in their newfound faith.
Dr. Carlito comments, "When we were converted we felt closer to Christ, felt safer, happier and now have peace of mind. I like it that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has health as part of our doctrine. I feel happier because we are now reading the Bible as our Manual for our daily lives. We find that Christ loves us, provides for all our needs, and best of all, saves us from our sins."
SPORTS FEST A SUCCESS
In conjunction with the induction of the 2015 -2016 officers of the Filipino Association of Advent Believers in British Columbia (FAABBC), the members of the six Filipino Seventh- day Adventist Churches met for a whole day of social gathering and sports at the grounds of Deer Lake School in Burnaby on September 13, 2015.
This gathering was the joint plan of the officers of the Association and the head elders of the six churches. The FAABBC officers were sworn into office by Pastor Charles Ed Aguilar, Communications Director of the British Columbia and Yukon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The officers are Ronald Carcellar, President; Theody Malabanan, Executive Vice-president; Matthew Reyes, Vice-president for youth and religious affairs; Michael Sarte, Vice-president for Sports and Social Affairs; Freddie Bagunu, Vice-president for Community Services, Angie Berto, Secretary, Irene Amancio, Associate Secretary; Ed Flores, Treasurer; Roger Magsalin, Associate Treasurer, Vancouver Filipino; Adel Calaguian, Associate Treasurer, Burnaby Fil-Can; Josue Lumalang, Associate Treasurer, Fraser Valley; Edith Velasco, Surrey Filipino; Luningning Waro, Abundant Life Community; Mila Talento, Auditor; Florante Reyes, P.R.O; Susan Olit, P.R.O.; Pastor Levi Estores, Adviser;Pastor Charles Ed Aguilar, Adviser; Chris Garzota, Adviser.
Reaching out to the thousands of Filipinos in British Columbia is one of the primary goals of the Association.The Association provides the manpower to help in the implementation of various social, civic and spiritual activities. Apart from the induction of the FAABBC officers, the members enjoyed volleyball, basketball, and badminton and other games. The children had their own games as well.
It is the FAABBC's hope and prayer that with more frequent collaborative outreach events and gatherings, the six Filipino churches will experience more unity, camaraderie and focus on mission.
By Angie & Ben Berto, Clerk & Head Elder of Abundant Life Community Church
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