Digos City, Philippines – With a membership of 14 disciples, including seven missionaries, the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) Digos at last held its inaugural worship service on October 6th, 2019 at the Crisbelle Crown Center with over 160 in attendance.

Disciples from Dubai and Thailand as well as from different parts of the Philippines – Bicol, Metro Manila, Cebu City, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City, General Santos City and Davao City also came to support the second baby church planting of Mindanao after ICOC Butuan. The music ministry of ICOC Davao led the awesome worship that set the hearts of disciples and guests to focus on God and his Word.

ICOC Digos church leader Nino Mercado, who shared Psalm 126:3, thanked the Abalayan family, led by Tatay Max and Nanay Trining, for opening their home to the work of the Lord here and for starting the dream of building a church in this city where they were born and raised. He also praised the Lord for making the dream happen with the inspiration and guidance from Mindanao leadership and ICOC Davao core group.

Digos City is a 90-minute bus ride from Davao City, where most of the Abalayans were converted into Christ and are currently based.

Devina Bautista, a public school teacher and a disciple for 22 years, has decided to be part of the ICOC Digos mission team. She shared her testimony of overcoming many hardships, including a congenital heart disease and the death of her mother. In 1996, two sisters from ICOC Davao reached out to her and studied the Bible with her, and she was baptized in 1997. But her trials did not end after baptism, as she was diagnosed with leukemia, a brain tumor and stage 2 colon cancer. She suffered a minor stroke three times and yet God’s love has sustained her all these years. Devina was once declared dead on arrival at the hospital, and yet she survived it again through the miraculous grace and power of Jesus and the prayers of disciples. She wants to devote her remaining strength to the mission to show her gratitude to her Lord for changing and extending her life.

Evangelist Ronald Mendres of ICOC Cagayan de Oro, who currently leads the Mindanao family of Churches with his wife Menchie, gave the communion message anchored on Romans 6:15-23. He said people are chasing so many things in life – pleasures, money, career and relationships but are not really happy and satisfied.

“Everyday we are chasing something, the question is ‘ano ang hinahabol mo’ (what are you chasing)? The only master we need in our lives is Jesus Christ who paid for all our sins on the cross. Whatever controls you becomes your master. Jesus needs to be our only master,” Mendres said.

ICOC Davao church leader Ariel Ladores gave the message of giving based on Acts 6:1-7.

ICOC Philippines evangelist Ariel Lastrado, focused on Psalm 89 in his sermon. He talked about Ethan’s maskil, which started with a declaration of his love for God and wanting to declare it to all generations.

“Ethan wrote the psalm in the midst of struggles and uncertainties in Israel…at a time when everything went wrong in the reign of Rehoboam’s reign. Yet, Ethan reminded God about his covenant with king David that his line will continue through all generations. He was faithful and hopeful that God will keep his promise,” Lastrado said.

Indeed, God fulfilled that promise since Jesus, the Christ and Savior, was in the lineage of David. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus also promised his constant presence to the disciples through the very end of the age.

Christians may be walking on a crooked line today, Lastrado said, but he said that God uses a crooked stick to draw a straight line.

“Our Christian life may be crooked now but stay faithful because God is faithful. We will face troubles but be faithful. Will our hearts be like Devine, giving praise to God despite the hardships?”

Some of the guests in attendance took the challenge and studied the Bible after the service. With prayers of disciples and God’s mercy, they may soon become disciples as well.

ICOC Davao, which planted ICOC Digos with the help of the Philippine Missionaries Society, was planted by the Metro Manila Christian Church in 1994 followed by ICOC Cagayan de Oro in 1995, and ICOC General Santos City and ICOC Zamboanga both in 1996.