*** Go to Tagalog original
As former “INC Defenders”, we used to wonder why our minister and evangelical worker leaders could never forge a lasting union. All attempts (and there have been many) to bring everyone together under one umbrella have failed. Factions still exist.
Almost from the beginning, pioneer Defender ministers didn’t get along. In fact, the addition of each new minister increases the dissension, even though new additions are initially welcomed and viewed as a way to strengthen the group. Unfortunately, each one brought with him his own set of ideas, philosophies and priorities, not to mention his own unique personality. Disagreement at the top is mirrored down the line with Defender members openly quarreling with one another in social media, over a host of issues. Lines may have been drawn along Defender leaders but within each camp, there also exist differing schools of thought among lay Defenders.
These are examples of where division is most noticeable and most confusing to the Defenders.
Division is evident in devotional prayers started by some leaders. We remember how there was a time when one Defender minister (Louie Cayabyab) announced the dissolution of daily devotional prayers only for another Defender worker in the same camp (Lowell Menorca II) to resume it the next day! We were all surprised and so was Louie. One can only imagine how baffling those times were for followers like us who weren’t privy to what internal issues might be going on!
Then another Defender minister (Joy Yuson) started another daily devotional prayer which he claimed to be specifically for grounds personnel even though everyone was invited to attend. Various reasons were given to justify why he scheduled his DP at 9pm Phil time, an hour before Lowell’s Tagalog DP which is at 10pm Phil time. Even to those who weren’t aware of the animosity between the two, it was clear that the former was competing with the latter! Even the differing formats used by these two DP’s became a campaign tool, as if to prove one’s superiority over the other!
Recently, Joy has adjusted his schedule to be at exactly the same time as Lowell’s Tagalog DP — now they’re both at 10pm Phil time! This further cut down attendance to Lowell’s gathering with DP attendees migrating to Joy’s larger following.
Here are the DP schedules posted in FB by both camps:
More recently, a head-scratching, eyebrow-raising and eyeball-popping announcement was made by Lowell/AE with respect to DP’s and GPM’s he hosts. Previously, all DP’s (and GPM’s) were open to everyone but Lowell’s was infiltrated by some who used vulgar names to convey their disgust over the alleged “obvious” adulterous relationship between Lowell and his partner, Liezel Diaz Deocampo that Lowell had to require prior registration to filter attendees to his DP. (The names used by the intruders are XXX-rated we cannot repeat them here for the sake of decency but if you are interested in knowing what some of them are, please send us a private message on our FB official page “Deceived No More” at https://www.facebook.com/Deceived-No-More-1218221351605458/.
Lowell’s DP now involves prior registration which requires the attendee to provide an email address.
Concerns over privacy and confidentiality were expressed by Defenders over this requirement, and for good reason. First, the user’s location can be traced if the registrant’s email is used to send mail to Lowell and cohorts, potentially leading to the discovery of the user’s real identity. See http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email for instructions on how to trace an email sender’s location. Second and probably more important, despite Lowell’s assurances, there’s been a growing distrust especially from his own camp over the Lowell-Liezl tandem as word has spread that they tend to “burn” their own people!
EGM’s, Committee Prayers and GPM’s
Note that even with the names of the Defender leaders’ weekly/bi-weekly gathering, there is no uniformity. Why? Because even on something as simple as this, respective leaders/hosts are not able to overcome their oversized egos to come to an agreement! During the last attempt to unify the various camps with Junsam appointed “by the brothers” as overall leader, this topic came under discussion. However, it didn’t take long before Junsam gave up on the “unified group” idea because he couldn’t rein in all the players. Despite the authority supposedly granted to him by “the brothers” to lead and unify the Defenders, Defender leaders still refused to cooperate with him. Everyone had an opinion on how to run their respective camps and wanted to continue to do their own thing, without “outside” interference, with the brothers’ blessings or not.
- “Committee Prayer” is what Joy Yuson calls his bi-weekly gathering in Tagalog and English.
- “EGM” – derived from the initials of the previous executive minister Eraño G. Manalo, stands for “Ecclesiastical Group Meeting”. This is led by Junsam.
*** Note the “No need for pre-registration” jab obviously meant for Lowell’s GPM. Can’t let that one pass, can we? 🙂
- GPM or “Group Prayer Meeting” is led by Lowell.
As with his DP, Lowell’s GPM is likewise subject to the “pre-registration” requirement and also for the same reason stated above. Joy’s Committee Prayer and Junsam’s EGM’s, on the other hand, remain open to everyone and apparently not prone to similar scandal as Lowell’s.
Zoom is the common videoconferencing technology platform across all three but employed by Joy and Junsam mostly to supplement physical attendance and to accommodate remote participants. Lowell, on the other hand, relies solely on Zoom for most of his weekly gatherings and only holds face-to-face gatherings once a month with a handful of expelled Defenders in the Vancouver area and supplemented by Zoom for remote participants.
LWS or “Live Worship Services”
These are similar in form and structure to that which is held in the Iglesia ni Cristo worship services, including hymn singing, collection of offerings and benediction. LWS services are held weekly and by physical attendance only. They are not open to remote participants. Instead, the strategy is to establish locales in other areas, similar to INC locales which are established when there is enough mass in an area.
The most popular of these LWS gatherings is the one led by Rolando Dizon (“Jon”) who is said to have a healthy following among Defenders in Norcal. Some Defenders have commented that he talks and acts as though he is the Executive Minister of his flock, or in colloquial Tagalog, “feeling TP”. In this endeavor, he is supported by Louie Cayabyab, also based in Norcal.
There is another similarly structured but smaller group in Southern Midwest led by Nhel dela Uso. Nhel is considered by some as a quiet “independent” Defender minister who seems content with leading a tiny group of Defenders in his part of the US mainland, and away from “outside” interference. He is sometimes described as being “in a world all his own” or in Tagalog, “may sariling mundo”.
Junsam criticized the holding of LWS. In his article entitled “Let Us Not be Deceived” http://defendingthetruth.info/who-is-the-leader-of-defenders/huwag-tayong-pumayag-na-maligaw-tagalog/let-us-not-be-deceived/, he states:
Joy Yuson maintains that LWS is against instructions he has received directly from “the brothers”. Apparently, his Committee Prayer’s format is the only one that conforms to their instructions.
Regardless how their respective gathering is done, what is common is that each leader prepares his own topic and accompanying set of verses to form a “lesson”. Each one preaches his own interpretation of the verses they’ve selected. Despite claims by some that the verses came from lessons originally prepared by the Last Messenger or Bro. Eraño, their interpretation is not based on the original teachings received but slanted to suit their own circumstance. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be holding their own worship service at all and they wouldn’t be outside the Church! Bottom line, they all preach to their respective following that their worship is acceptable to God and that they will be saved, whether outside the Church or not!
Calls for Silent Defenders to Separate from the Church
This was the topic of our recent article http://incdefendernomore.org/2016/12/27/leave-the-church-and-go-where/. There, you will see the distinctly opposite perspectives of two Defender leaders, Junsam and Lowell. (By the way, it is an open secret among Defenders that there’s no love lost between these two.)
Another expelled minister has also made his position on this subject known amidst attacks by Defenders who have expressed a contrary view. In https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=255005084918967&id=100012284325360, Defender minister Rudy Lao, writing as “Dimitri Tudor”, clarified Revelations 18:4 as taught by the Last Messenger and Bro. Erano. Their teachings essentially cast as unscriptural, calls made by Liezl Diaz Deocampo for Silent Defenders to leave the Church (which, if you recall, was agreed to by Lowell, in a vague way). Very recently, Dimitri once again published another excellent article https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=263618407390968&id=100012284325360. There, he reviewed the history of Christianity against the backdrop of prophecies revealed in chapter 18 of Revelations. This was to counter a misleading interpretation by a lay Defender Ding Rogero.
Louie Cayabyab was among the organizers of the Big Bang project that featured the then newly recruited Defender minister, Jon Dizon. Big Bang is the en masse voluntary expulsion project conceived by Lowell and Louie so we know where these leaders are leaning, assuming they still feel that way. When this issue broke out anew though, these two have simply stood by and watched Defenders quarrel with each other without making their stance known.
Other Defender leaders have indirectly agreed with calls to leave the Church through “likes” or comments on FB posts to separate from the INC, among them Farley De Castro, Roel Rosal and Dean Ryndon aka “MarvDaniel PA RyDean”.
Joy Yuson and Ernie Pineda have been quoted as opposing calls to separate as these are not supported by “the brothers”.
Other former ministers have not openly commented on this particular subject.
The “Remnant prophecy”
This is a major point of contention among Defenders. For us though, like a simmering cauldron, this is the added heat that has caused us to boil and spill over. Even before then, doubts have already been expressed about the sanity of our leaders as they began to deviate from our original purpose and espoused and preached foreign doctrine or doctrine not taught by the Last Messenger. If there was the slightest of doubt then, this Remnant fallacy (Note: not prophecy) cinched it for us.
Clearly borne out of desperation, whomever invented this novel interpretation of Isaiah 1:8-9 and Revelations 18:4 was clutching at straws, perhaps, to save a crumbling movement from inevitable disintegration. Hoping this newfound “prophecy” would unify the various Defender groups, what resulted was a more fractured movement with each vocal Defender, regardless of group affiliation, openly posting their views on the subject and debating with co-Defenders. To defend their position, some even arm themselves with their own interpretation of verses in the Bible, though they were never, even before, granted authority to teach.
Some Defender ministers are said to have been convinced by this remnant theory that they have started to preach it (Jon Dizon), while others have decided to stay mum in public (Lowell, Louie) but have rolled their eyes and shaken their heads in private. One former minister openly opposed it (Rudy Lao aka Dimitri Tudor). Other ex-ministers such as Farley De Castro, Dean Ryndon and Roel Rosal have either raised the possibility that it might be true, or expressed concurrence by liking FB posts by lay Defenders who promote this new remnant interpretation. Still, there are former ministers who dismiss it as background noise, or continued to stay on the fence, perhaps waiting to see which way the wind will blow.
As if this is not controversial enough, there are those who have thrown in the idea that part of Bro. Eraño’s “last wishes”, apparently known only to his family (minus Bro. Eduardo that is) was to have either Marc or Angel step in to the role of Executive Minister. So far, neither brother has come forward to confirm nor deny this. This might be because, legalities aside, any claim to the office of Executive Minister has to be backed by Scripture as taught by the Last Messenger and by Bro. Eraño, not by a self-serving interpretation of questionable and undocumented “last wishes” of a delirious man on his death bed, especially if that man is Bro. Eraño himself who, while still healthy and clear of mind, had already appointed a successor to ensure there is no vacuum in the Church’s leadership.
The never-ending RTC/H20 transparency issue
This is a sore topic that has been hotly debated by all camps for as far back as we can remember. We are not going to discuss it here in detail. So much has been written already in social media on this topic, some as recently as this week. Attacks and counter attacks by various Defenders, done openly in FB for the whole world to see, some in emails that copy everyone and their cousin, and in blogs.
We plan to tackle this transparency issue in a future article but we mention it here to make a point that this has been a never-ending point of contention and a major source of division among Defender camps.
Divided, it shall fall
If there is one thing that characterizes the Defender groups, it is disunity. Discord and lack of harmony have been its weakness from the beginning and still is almost two years later. The division emanates from the “top” where the top is not one person but several leaders. There is no single organization but multiple, disparate units like a multi-headed monster with each head wanting to go in a different direction. There is no single focus, no single mandate, with the heads even turning against each other at times, followed by the quarreling body parts they control.
The body isn’t growing, it is, in fact, crumbling, withering. Ignored, it needed to constantly device tricks to attract attention, but it is feeble and nothing it does is sustainable. Its leaders lack humility, are wicked, deceptive, or have succumbed to matters of the flesh and some even say, have fallen into sexually immorality.
So… of God or not?
Let’s go back to our initial question: Is the Defender group of God? Answer: Clearly, it’s not!
God brought His people to one body, the Church, of which Christ is the head. There is only One God. One Christ. One Church. One Body. Though there are different body parts, each part works in perfect harmony with the others. God’s people are, therefore, of one mind, one judgment, one spirit, one hope, and most importantly, they are bound by one faith and one set of beliefs. None of these things which characterize God’s nation is found in the Defender group. Which one then is an abomination before God? His Church or the Defender group? The answer is clear.
To Defenders who were misled like us, please open your eyes. Do not harden your hearts. Return to God. Return to our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask humbly for mercy. In the Church, there is unity and salvation. Beg the Church Administration for reinstatement. It is our only hope.