A historical visit to Butuan

On Sunday, 3rd of March 2024

In a momentous visit to Northern Mindanao, District Apostle Edy Isnugroho, accompanied by Apostle Samuel Tansahtikno and Apostle Leonilo Desoloc, embarked on a week-long journey from Saturday, 25th February to Sunday, 3rd March 2024. Throughout the week, he conducted divine services in Ban-ban, Hinatigan, Libasud, Tidman, and San Isidro. This marked a significant occasion, as some of these congregations received a visit from a District Apostle for the first time.

On Saturday, 2nd March morning he attended the National Council Philippines Meeting and in the afternoon, he attended the annual NACSeAsia Relief Meeting at our central church in Butuan. And in the evening a concert with contemplation was held as a preparation for the divine service for the departed.

The highlight of this visit unfolded on Sunday, 3rd March 2024, as the District Apostle conducted divine service for the departed at the central church in Butuan. The Bible text was taken out of Acts 8:30-31: “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.”

In his sermon, District Apostle Isnugroho emphasized the unique nature of the service for the departed. He urged the congregation to view it as a forward-looking experience. It is not that our brothers and sisters from the world beyond are here, they are always here and we have fellowship with them in every divine service. But because the souls in the world beyond, who have been prepared, can be baptized and sealed. When Holy Baptism or Holy Sealing is carried out, the congregation is happy and
rejoices. This is also our joy, that God still gives salvation in the hereafter and that souls can attain salvation. We are being prepared for the great event, the return of Jesus Christ, as the bridegroom who will take us as His bride and enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Biblical context t is the story of a chamberlain, who was a eunuch, from Ethiopia. Returning from Jerusalem, he was reading the prophet Isaiah but did not understand its meaning. He let Philip ride in his chariot and agreed to listen. Philip preached the
gospel. His preaching touched the stranger and he was baptized.

This teaching applies to us. When we read our book of life or the book of world history, sometimes we do not understand and have unanswered questions. Let us not be offended. We have to see in the light of God’s plan for us as a whole. The Lord wants us
to be with Him forever in His kingdom and give us everything we need to achieve this! Let us believe in His love and trust Him!

In the yonder world, many souls have questions. They do not understand why God did not intervene to prevent the misfortune that befell them. God does not explain everything He does. His answer is to send the Apostles. They proclaim the gospel and explain the plan of redemption. Those who accept the Apostles and believe in their preaching understand God’s love for them and the salvation He offers. God answers this prayer by giving them access to the sacraments dispensed by the Apostles.

The personality of the eunuch is interesting:

  • The man came from Africa, he was not part of the chosen people—God offers salvation also to a heathen. He offers salvation to all humankind, regardless of their origin;
  • The eunuch has an important position in his country. As chamberlain of the queen’s treasury, he was rich—God wants salvation also for the rich;
  • He was a eunuch—in ancient times, certain kings or queens required their officials to be castrated, perhaps so that they did not abuse their position to create their dynasty. According to Jewish law, the eunuch was not allowed to enter the holy place, was only in the courtyard. But his infirmity did not prevent him from being baptized. God offers salvation to those who are rejected and live on the margins of society;
  • A eunuch had no future, as he could have no children—in the yonder world, many souls are convinced they have no future. God offers them eternal life;
  • Through castration, the eunuch was of little importance—he was esteemed by the king or queen only for the service he could render. Today, many people suffer from society’s lack of interest and consideration for them. God loves every person for who they are!

Let us also look at the disposition of this man’s heart: The people in Ethiopia worship idols, but the eunuch did not satisfy them. He has power, a good position, and wealth. But these things didn’t satisfy him. He was seeking the true God. He traveled to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and bring his offering, he prayed and read the scripture, but their meaning eluded him. Seeing that he was sincere, God sent him His servant. The Ethiopians accepted him, listened, and believed his preaching. His
faith allowed him to be baptized and continue his journey in joy.

The dead who believe in the Apostles’ preaching can receive the acts of salvation in the divine service for the departed. Baptism with water allows them to be incorporated into the Church of Christ. Those on the margins of society become full members of the body of Christ. Holy sealing allows them to enter the kingdom of God as firstlings. Those who had lost all hope now have access to the brightest future a person can achieve! They can also celebrate holy communion and have perfect fellowship with Jesus Christ. One can imagine that after the divine service, these souls will continue their way of faith with joy as a member of the body of Jesus Christ, as a future king and priest in the kingdom of God. It is our wish that many souls will have access to salvation.