Heeding God’s call in her heart
HER JOURNEY in search of the truth began during her college days. She gained friends from different faiths who persuaded her to observe their religious practices—Born Again Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other Christian-professing organizations. This gave rise to more questions that needed answers.
Her search for the truth continued until she met Sister Jerly Ann D. Villanueva, a choir member and a Children’s Worship Service teacher from Projects 2 & 3 Local Congregation in Quezon City. Their acquaintance came about when Sister Jerly’s friend was working on her thesis and needed to interview a Deaf person as well as Sister Jerly. This paved the way for Catherine Joy Patriarca to know the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
The first time CJ, as she is fondly called, entered the house of worship, she was a bit bewildered, for she saw no graven images nor any cross. And while she was seated, she looked around and was quite impressed with how the attendees were keenly listening to the preaching. The solemnity of the occasion was very noticeable. This aroused her curiosity and interest to continue to explore the Church. After every worship service she obliged herself to attend, Sister Jerly would impart to her through Sign Language what the lesson was all about. During the Bible study, Sister Jerly would interpret for her the doctrines that were being taught by the minister. The lessons she learned were irrefutable teachings from the Bible. As these became clearer and clearer to her, her initial skepticism turned into conviction.
She also went through trials and persecutions from her loved ones before receiving baptism but she persevered. She said, “I really felt sad but I knew it was part of my being called in the true Church. Someday they will understand and realize that what I got into is right.”
In 2008, she was baptized at the Central Temple. “When I was immersed in the water and rose up, I got this unexplainable feeling of joy that brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t express in words how much joy I felt when I was baptized in the Church Of Christ,” Sister CJ expressed. She was born and raised as a Catholic. Though her parents exposed her to the religious activities of the Catholic Church, still she said, “I found myself hungry and thirsty for the words of God.” But now she is a proud member of the Church Of Christ, unmindful of her limitations.
Sister CJ zealously fulfills her Christian duty to help the Church Administration in propagating the faith. “It is always my joy to serve our Lord God. I feel so blessed that God called me to the Church Of Christ. I promise Him that I will uphold my faith and do my duties come what may. Even if there are hindrances, I know He is there for me. He will take care of me and I will always put my trust in Him,” said Sister CJ.
Currently, she holds an office in her local congregation as secretary in the Light of Salvation organization. She is very much thankful that God uses the Church Administration to look after the spiritual welfare of the members of the Church. And those who are Deaf like her have also been blessed with the knowledge and understanding of the words of God. She is thankful that today, there are already ministers and ministerial workers assigned by the Church Administration to conduct Bible studies and interpret God’s words in the worship services through Sign Language. Truly, for Sister CJ, her being deaf did not hinder her in knowing the truth and finding her way to God. Although she does not hear any sound, yet God’s words resonate in her heart—she talks to God with her heart.
(As told to Gerson S. Nonato through Sign Language Interpretation by Mark Jason Patagnan and Jerly Ann D. Villanueva)