Mindanao once has been called land of promise in early 1050’s. Places were a fertile ground for farming and fertile ground for mission.
Pastor Enrique Litao-Almera a graduate in the School of Theology has the heart of mission, his wife Valentina, children Prescilla, Deborah, Tadeo and granddaughter Flordeliza. In early 1951 they migrated to Mindanao and settled in Barungkot, Dangcagan, Bukidnon. (Not in photo Prescila & Liza)
He started his ministry and began to have a group of his own. He acquainted many church leaders and joined the churches. He met also Ptr Juanito Gapul, Sr. and family in Barungkot. In 1956 he was able to meet a leader who migrated from Negros with so many followers named Mr. Fidel Cambare. The name of his group was Economic Brotherhood Production - EPB. They observed the 7 Gods Plan of Salvation in the Old Testament. Ptr Eking and Mr. Fidel Cambare agreed that they will merge their groups in serving God.
In 1957 the church building was built (the roof was made out of cogon grass) on Mr. Cambare’s personal lot in Kiara, Maramag Bukidnon. (Barrio Kiara, were belonged in the Municipality of Maramag in that year). It’s not easy doing with such ministry when they have to walk around 40 kilometers every week when they go to Barrio Kiara for Worship service. Their faith in serving God is immeasurable, members would have to travel Friday night from different places such as Maramag and Dangcagan just walking bringing all their foods carried by “balsa” (a cart without a wheel) pulled by a carabao / buffalo or a cow and walk again Saturday night going back home. When rains come they have to wait for the rivers of Moleta and Masimag waters to subside for them to cross.
A first Pastor of Radio Church of God founded by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was Ptr. Pedro Ortiguero who happened to be a friend and co-pastor of Ptr Eking Almera in Luzon went to Mindanao in 1962 for the purpose of joining the group of Ptr. Almera, the church eventually converted to Radio Church of God and later years it became Worldwide Church of God - WCG and in the year 2008 the name was changed officially to Grace Communion Internation - GCI.
In the late 1960’s it’s the persecution and excruciating trials of Ptr Eking Almera and family when there was a Pastor who joined the group and started to overpower him and ruined his reputation and even in front of the worship service, he used his power to destroy him. There was even a time during the service the said pastor said to the congregation that he will throw Ptr. Almera out of the window. He said that Ptr Almera is incapable of handling the church. In 1969 Ptr Almera was totally dropped down from the ministry together with Ptr Juanito Gapul and never received any single cents as retirement benefit. Such incident was never reported in the head office of WCG in Manila, in spite of that Ptr Almera and family still remain in the church.
June 1970 Ptr. Almera was seriously ill his family doesn’t have any finances for such a surgical operation and to buy all the necessary needs in the hospital. In the late afternoon of June 19, 1970 Ptr. Almera breathed his last at Bethel Hospital, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. That very day his remains transported to Don Carlos, Bukidnon arrived at 7:00 in the evening. It was Friday eve the church believed that it’s already a Sabbath. The incumbent pastor ordered the family to burry Ptr. Almera at once because it’s already Sabbath and no one would help. He never allows Mrs. Almera and children to view his remains and even he never allowed bringing the remains to the house, 11:30 in the evening where the strong rains poured it seems the cry of heaven his servant was buried without any burial services rendered in his peaceful rest. Ptr. Juanito Gapul, Sr. was even scolded by that Pastor because he helped to facilitate the remains of Ptr. Eking. Sometimes words are un-expressible knowing with this inhuman treatment may lead to bitterness and envy. Thanks for those few good men who sacrificed for giving the humble servant a peaceful rest (The Zapanta’s, Canogigos’ Carmelotes’ and others).
Neighbors who are unbelievers were so mad to the Almera family why they never bring the remains of Ptr Almera in the house and why they listened to that pastor, where they said they will help for the burial just for them to see the remains of Ptr. Eking who been so kind to them.
When the regional Director of WCG Mr. Arthur Docken heard the news, he rushed to Cagayan de Oro City why he never knew about Ptr. Almera was ill, sad to say, it’s all done. It was not reported with that pastor.
Mrs. Valentina F. Almera in spite of what happen continue to serve the Lord faithfully, without any grudges at all. She taught her grandchildren the way giving, praying without ceasing and God fearing children. It has been a prayer of her grandson and I quote “Lord my Lola Tina is old now, if you are going to take her, don’t let her suffer with illness”. December 21, 1999 at 5 o’clock in the morning her daughter Deborah usually wake her up for a coffee but that moment she never responded and never wake up from her sleep, in her deep sleep she went back to her creator. It was an answered prayer to God be all the glory.
It’s been a heart crushing story; but it is still a greatest battle of Victory I may say “Land of Promise, Mission Accomplished”. The church has been following the Old Testament laws have been spiritually transformed into full Gospel Church. Kiara Church still remains, before Mr. Fidel Cambare died he finally donated the one hectare lot where the Church was built. The Church grows in Bukidnon with her daughter churches.
Ptr. Enrique Almera’s family still remain in the Church serving faithfully to Jesus Christ. There will be human defeat in his lifetime but the victory to the kingdom of heaven has the greatest reward.