“ANGKAN NG SUGO”
(“FAMILY OF THE MESSENGER”)
By Brother Joel V. San Pedro
WHEN Lottie Hemedez is asked who owns the residence on #36 Tandang Sora Ave., she says the house belongs to her. When Lottie Hemedez is then asked who owns the electric bill, which has exceeded a million pesos a month for several months, she says the bill belongs to the Church Of Christ.
When Lottie Hemedez is asked who is expected to support her lifestyle, since she has never gotten a job and she has never served in any position or duty in the Church Of Christ, she says the Executive Minister should be using the offerings of the Church to take care of her, even though she was expelled for going against the teachings of the Church Of Christ.
When Lottie Hemedez needs money to pay for her daily Facebook activities and her legal fees for Trixie so she can attack the Church Of Christ and spread lies to shame it, she wants it to come from what the members of the Church Of Christ have offered, even though the members gave their offerings to be used for the work supporting the activities of the Church Of Christ to bring honor and not shame to Christ’s Name.
Why does Lottie have such lofty expectations to receive such generous benefits from a religious organization she is no longer a part of and is even fighting against? Her oft-given answer consists of three words in Filipino which translates to four words in English: “Angkan ng Sugo” or “Family of the Messenger”.
If we would look at the housing rules enacted by then Executive Minister, Brother Eraño G. Manalo, and implemented by the succeeding Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, concerning living in Church housing and receiving “tulong” or financial allowance, do these rules allow Lottie’s wild and fanciful expectations because of family ties?
Here are some of the Church Of Christ’s rules for all who reside in Church housing:
1. It is strictly prohibited to allow anyone—even if they be parents, son or daughter who is already married, grandchildren, or house helpers—to stay overnight and all the more reside in Church housing without permission from Central.
4. Those discovered to have allowed anyone to stay overnight or to reside without permission from Central will be appropriately disciplined, resulting in reduction in their allowance and/or withdrawal of the privilege to reside in Church housing
5. Removal from the Church registry or being expelled means the automatic removal of the privilege to reside in Church housing.
8. If any member of the household has a case involving a violation of the Church’s teachings or regulations, this may result in the entire household losing the privilege to reside in Church housing.
It is clear in the rules promulgated by Brother Eraño Manalo himself that the rules were made to be stronger than family ties. Since Lottie and Angel are in violation of all these rules mentioned above, what does she hold on to as her basis to continue receiving the privileges she is demanding? Justice, she claims, since her family ties are not ordinary. She is still “Angkan ng Sugo” or “Family of the Messenger”.
Since true justice is based on God’s will in the Bible, does the “Angkan ng Sugo” or “Family of the Messenger” or even the “EGM Family ” argument stand the biblical test? Let’s ask the Bible.
Does the Bible teach that the privilege of remaining a true and blessed servant of God comes with simply being a family member of a faithful servant of God?
1. Matthew 12:47-50 (The Message):
“While he was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers showed up. They were outside trying to get a message to him. Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are out here, wanting to speak with you.’ Jesus didn’t respond directly, but said, ‘Who do you think my mother and brothers are?’ He then stretched out his hand toward his disciples. ‘Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’”
For God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, obedience to God’s will far outweighs family ties. Are there examples in the Bible of family members who were rejected by God because of their disobedience and lost all the privileges that come with being God’s servants? There are many. Below are a few examples of them:
2. What if Lottie, Angel, and Marc say that Brother Felix Manalo was their grandfather? After Esau traded the spiritual blessing that came with his birthright for a material reward, having Abraham for a grandfather was not enough for Esau to be forgiven:
"... Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God's lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God's blessing--but by then it was too late, tears or no tears." (Hebrews 12:15(b)-17, The Message)
This is why Brother Eraño Manalo, when he was Executive Minister, also expelled a nephew of his or, in other words, a grandson of God's Messenger, when that member of the “Angkan ng Sugo” was found to be in disobedience.
3. What if Lottie, Angel, and Marc say a beloved spiritual leader, Brother Eraño Manalo, was their father? King David, was a spiritual leader so loved by God that the Bible describes David as a “man after God’s own heart” and the Lord Jesus as “Son of David.” King David’s son Absalom, however, lost not just his privileges but even his own life when he was found in disobedience and rebellion. Years later, another son of King David, Adonijah, also rebelled and was also punished.
4. What if Lottie, Angel, and Marc say that their brother is the current leader of God’s people? Cain could have said the same thing. After Cain killed his brother, Abel, God chose the descendants of Seth, a brother of Cain, to continue the line of people that God elected to be His. On the other hand, Cain and his descendants were rejected and not considered God's people.
If Lottie, Angel, and Marc, along with Mrs. Cristina Manalo, would like to regain the greatest privilege of being God’s children who can inherit salvation, they should follow what the Bible says and return--in the proper Bible-based way that includes repentance and obedience--to the Church Of Christ.
This exhortation is not because the Church Of Christ needs them but because they need the Church Of Christ, the Church that Christ the Savior will save.