Testimony of Yvette Espiritu
Yvette came from a religious family. His father had a position in the Iglesia Ni Cristo church for nearly three decades. She felt secure inside because their dogma was that “only INC members will be saved.” Similar to Roman Catholic’s Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, there is no salvation outside the church of “Manalo.”
Being severed from Iglesia ni Cristo meant going to hell. As a result, there are those who lived a double life to keep up with church rules. “They were devout when in church, but worldly and proud outside,” she relates.
Yvette held a “distant God” with fear. She is afraid of God but was more afraid of the church and its overarching power over its members.
→ How the Bible is twisted by other religions.
Mandatory recruitment of members
Members were required to recruit at least one person a year to church. She invited a Christian friend and if converted, God will bless her for evangelizing someone. Her friend was reluctant but agreed if Yvette would also attend the Christian church her friend goes to. Hoping her friend would be enlightened for coming, she was asked questions to which she couldn’t answer.
I was afraid of him
Empowered by the Holy Spirit to read
When it was Yvette’s turn to attend the Christian church, she immediately felt something different. “I found myself crying and speechless. For the first time, I experienced a loving God.” Eventually, God led her to a Bible study.
“It was my first time to open a Bible, I kept crying because of the revelations, awe, and confused at the same time.” The more she read, the more she heard God. “How is it that I’m encountering this loving and compassionate God, when all my life, I was afraid of him,? she said in her testimony.
→ Checklist of a genuine Christian.
INC discourages reading God’s Word
Reading the Bible by yourself was discouraged in INC. A stark contrast to what God said, which is to meditate on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8). God wants us to read His Word daily to set us free from doubts and fear (John 8:32). In addition, Yvette was taught that Jesus is merely a man. Numerous Bible verses point to the Divinity of Jesus.
She was told that the teachings of the leaders were enough. On the other hand, God warns us of those who will teach doctrines that are not from God but the teachings of mere men. They will distort the truth to gain more members. (2 Timothy 4:3-4; Acts 20:28-30)
They will distort the truth to gain more members
→ How to talk to God and read the Bible in your Quiet time.
Holding on to Jesus
Eventually, she joined the True Life Retreat of CCF. She learned the importance of the Cross of Christ and what Jesus did. She surrendered her life to Jesus and was baptized as a symbol of her faith, declaring “Jesus is Lord!.”
Weeks after, her Dad was infuriated and threatened to disown her. She was asked to leave the house, never to return. She held on to her faith and trusted God that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
→ My Story: Inspiring Christian testimonies.
Persecution from members & leaders
Friends from her former church sent hateful texts, but God’s grace enabled Yvette to respond with love. Soon enough, the church leaders confronted her involvement with the Christian church. She was asked to deny her faith.
Instead, Yvette boldly admitted her conversion. She cited Bible verses in defense of her decision but the leaders became even more furious. They told her that she wasn’t authorized to use anything from the Bible.
After hours of interrogation, the leaders gave up and asked Yvette to write an apology letter and declare loyalty to the church. If she refuses, her father who was a head deacon and her brother studying to be a pastor will lose their position.
Charged with heresy
Her dad was forced to step down after 20 years of serving the church. He begged her to recant yet Yvette could only hug her Dad and pray for him, it wasn’t easy and her father had no choice.
Later, Yvette Espiritu’s name echoed in the pulpit and she was excommunicated. Though painfully embarrassing for her family, “I have never felt more free,” Yvette said.
She was excommunicated.
→ How the Bible is twisted by other religions.
A witness to a loving God
Eventually, her family accepted the faith she chose. “They saw the change in me and realized I’m in a better place.” Yvette preached to them that its all about a relationship with God through Jesus, it’s not about church membership.
Her family even joked, “Isama mo yang (kapatid mo) sa Christians services para magbago din,” (Bring your siblings to Christian service, so they will also change”).
Today, Yvette Espiritu serves God through a single’s ministry, mentoring women, and leading a Bible study. She also counsels former members of her church into knowing who the real Jesus is and learning to reach out with truth and love.
→ How to be a Christian follower of Jesus?