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My Encounter with the El Shaddai


									by: Ricardo Liong

During my frequent business trips to Manila in the early nineties, El Shaddai stickers on cars and
taxis intrigued me. A taxi driver explained, This sticker was placed by the taxis owner. This may
be a Middle East organization. That was my first encounter with the group.

Months later, while channel surfing in my hotel rooms television, I came across a religious rally.
The style and atmosphere projected the image of a Protestant evangelists meeting. The
dynamism of the speaker, his frequent biblical quotes, the impromptu prayers, and the
spontaneous responses of the audience seemed to be unmistakable signs of a Protestant group.

Normally, I would immediately switch channels but I didnt. There was something different with
the crowd. It was not dressed in its Sunday best and there were many old folks among the
predominant bakya crowd (the lower economic strata). I was totally confused about this groups
religious affiliation.

Setting aside more serious business, I pestered my local colleagues and friends to find out more
about El Shaddai. A lady at our office confirmed that it is a Catholic charismatic group led by
Brother Mike Velarde. Her answer whetted my curiosity and being an impatient and inquisitive
fellow, I wanted to know more about it.

That night, I accidentally tuned in to a television play called The Golden Teaching of El Shaddai.
Although the plays production was crude and below par, the sincerity of the players brought
home the message. Ordinary folks got into difficulties and, in different manners, encountered the
El Shaddai movement. Through prayers and patience, their problems were subsequently solved:
getting a job as a domestic helper in Hong Kong, kicking a drug or alcoholic habit, or asking for
a cure for cancer and other sickness. Another mid-week televised meeting showed Brother Mike
answering questions on mostly simple problems regarding live-in partners, faith, and oppression
from the rich and powerful. Brother Mikes answers were equally simple and straightforward.

What struck me most in his program was the hope and faith of the masses who followed their
servant-leader, as Brother Mike called himself. They confidently believed that God would grant
their prayer-requests. Unashamedly, they shouted Alleluia and Amen acknowledging God,
Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Like the multitude on the mount, they were not afraid of the sun nor
rain and the ridicule of unbelievers or other better-fed lambs.

During my subsequent business trips, my own problems with meeting the budget, doubling my
bonus, and staying at the top of my profession seemed less important. My worries and anxieties
paled in comparison to those who attended the El Shaddai meetings. I learned to be more
grateful. In the solitude of my hotel room, I too started praying with Brother Mike and the crowd.

Rather than dwelling on his negative sides, I stress the positive. Brother Mikes humility was
repeatedly shown on television. He confessed his limited knowledge of the Churchs doctrines,
theology, and practices. He publicly apologized for any unkind remarks and tearfully asked our
Lords forgiveness. No, it was not showmanship. If so, he may have fooled me, but surely not
hundreds of thousands of followers.
After my encounter with the El Shaddai movement, I began catching up by reading on the Holy
Spirit, the charismatic movement, and the Bible. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is showing
His signs in the El Shaddai movement, just like in other true religious movements. By its results,
by the faith of its followers, by the miracle of healing in their bodies and in their hearts, and by
its many other manifestations, I cant come to any other conclusion. Because I, too, have
undergone a healing in my heart!

This article was posted on February 17, 2006

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