For my Expelled Friends

Today I learned that an old family friend, together with his wife and children have been expelled. He was not an adulterer. She did not swindle anyone. The children were not inactive. They have been in the church all their life. They held duties in the locale. His parents were also very active. So why the expulsion? He asked questions to the Minister. The Minister gave answers. He said they were not sufficient; He was not satisfied with answers like “Those are not true”; “Ignore them”; “Those are rumors” and “Avoid reading”. He was then reported for “sharing” quotes. He was asked to write an affidavit of loyalty; He said he is still trying to seek for answers.

They are now expelled.

My heart grieves for them. All those years of service just washed away. Their names and records tainted for being “rebellious” to the Administration. Rebellious to the Executive Minister they never spoke with. It saddens me that such occurrences are actually a reality. None of their history was ever considered.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo I remembered was a place of compassion. It was a place joy and inspiration. When we were sad we could find upliftment from the Ministers. They would read verses that moved us . When we had troubles, we could call on them for comforting words from the Scriptures. These days, I feel more like I’m being threatened in the gatherings. I can’t even say it’s a “Worship Service” anymore. Oftentimes the lessons would consist of the following…

“The Church Administrations wants….”
“We must submit…”
“Do not listen to them…”
“They cannot save you!”

And so on and so forth. My heart longs for those days when we would hear lessons that moved us. Lessons to get us through the week; lessons that made us say, “hey, that was lesson was for me!” Lessons that gave us answers to nagging personal problems. I loved the lessons that made me say, “I’m going to go home and apply this to my family”

Nowadays, I say, “hmm, another lesson about rebellion… the expelled…the offering… the Administration….” Can’t the ministers see the faces of the brethren?!? They are saying We Know already.

But despite the efforts of the Ministers, brethren are still getting expelled. Why? Unlike before, the questions still linger in the heads of the brethren. This is different from the past when religions would debate the Church and brethren were so eager. We would push the guests and say, go ahead, ask questions! There were brethren who were so bold to even challenge other churches. And now? The instructions? LOOK AWAY! DON’T READ!! You might be influenced. Why should we be afraid? And if there are those who have questions? Lo and behold – –  like our friends… gone.

I do not suggest that we rebel. But does that mean we just close our eyes? Pretend that everything is fine? That we have no questions? We know the reality. Many brethren are AFRAID to speak. Many do have questions. Many are worried that if they say something, that they too will be expelled. Would it be better we silently harbour doubts in our hearts? Would it not be better that brethren are encouraged and feel comfortable that they can approach the Minister without fear of being reported and threatened with expulsion? It’s a shame that did not happen to my friends.

I do not have the solutions to the problems of the Church.

All I can do for now is to pray for my friends.

I pray for those who feel so disgruntled and disillusioned.

I pray for those who were expelled.

And I wish that the Ministers would pray for them as well.

I pray that they would have compassion like our Father: Exodus 34:6

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