El Shaddai is a huge and popular Filipino charismatic group with millions of followers in the Philippines and abroad. In 1997 it had 62 overseas chapters, made up mainly of Filipino overseas contract workers (OCWs). Within the Philippines it has a following of about six million members—seven million by one estimate.
El Shaddai is a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement from the Philippines. Its founder and servant leader is Mariano Mike Velarde or better known as Brother Mike. Its Diocesan Bishop is the Most reverend Jessie Mercado of the Diocese of Paranaque and Spiritual Director is Novaliches Bishop Emiritus Teodoro Bacani of the Roman Catholic Church. This Charismatic renewal promotes Catholic tradition like praying the rosary, angelus and Psalm 91. During their anniversaries they held a procession of the image of the Virgin Mary Nuestra Senora de Guia before celebrating the Holy Mass. They distribute copies of the Cathecism for Filipino Catholics. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines recognizes El Shaddai as promoter of the Catholic faith. During the past years Pope John Paul II gave his Apostolic blessing to this community.The Nature of the Research
Miss Florence Cabognason first and foremost helped us to know overall general activities and places of El Shaddai’s acrively working places in the Philippines. She is a teaching staff of PCU – CBT, in Dasmarinas campus. She told us she was a cured breast cancer survivor. She gave us initial interesting messages and two small old books published by El Shaddai.
We visited the center regular meeting place of El Shaddai which they called “EL SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International Inc.” on November 17 (3:00-10:00 PM), which is in Amvel Business Park, San Diniosio Paranaque City, just beside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippines. We also visited El Shaddai’s Center Office in Makati City, Metro Manila on 26 November 2007. From these visits I collect some materials and at the same time noted down some interesting activities and the manner they performs, the way they conduct, how participants interact, how they do the orders of such a big gatherings into services. To my surprise, El Shaddai movement is really strong and supported by many people. El Shaddai office workers told me that El Shaddai movement is also joined by other Christian members other than Catholics. The congregation is so big as many as around one million in numbers that night. In El Shaddai Newsletter, such gathering numbered up to three to five millions in special occasions like Holy Weeks, Anniversary, and Christmas. Fortunately the weather was good that night and the whole program going on well without any natural intervention and threats up to the end.
Unfortunately, for us, there are little available materials written in English. Most of their publications are in Tagalog. From the visit to the Central Office Publication Department we are able to obtain some limited Newsletters and Magazines written in English as indicated in Bibliography. Besides these mentioned materials, I have no other materials except personal interviews received from El Shaddai movement members during our visits. Last, but not the least, the official web site of El Shaddai is also the source. Direct URL is: http://www.geocities.com/elshaddai_dwxi_ppfi/
Definition of key terms
EL SHADDAI MOVEMENT. A Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement from the Philippines. Its founder and servant leader is Mariano Mike Velarde or better known as Brother Mike.
EL SHADDAI. Bro. Mike, a servant-leader got the name El Shaddai from a magazine that a friend gave to him. The movement defines this way. EL SHADDAI is one of the seven Covenant Names through which God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, revealed Himself to Israel. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the All-Powerful and Ever-Living God Who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). In Hebrew, EL SHADDAI means “The God Who is More Than Enough.” He is the All-Sufficient One. The Jerusalem Bible translates EL SHADDAI as “The Almighty God” (Gen 17:1/35:11).
It is the aim of the El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc. to proclaim to the world the greatness, faithfulness, power, goodness, and love of God; to provide relief to people whose hearts and minds are burdened with problems; to heal the spiritual and physical afflictions of men in our time; and to preach the Good News of Salvation offered by our Lord Jesus Christ.
EL SHADDAI DWXI-PPFI. The El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partners Foundation Internal is a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement of the Philippines. It is a non-stock, non-profit organization duly registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was organized in 1984, primarily, as institution to support the religious activities of various Catholic charismatic renewal communities and some projects of charitable organizations.
SERVANT-LEADER. Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde himself claims to be a servant leader and at the same time a servant of God. He was and is a layman leader of the Lord who was called to move this El Shaddai Catholic Charismatic Movement. Therefore, he is entitled Servant-Leader as the head (or as president or chairman) of the Movement and members commonly call him Brother Mike told me by one member whom I met during my visit.
SERVANT-VOLUNTEER WORKERS. They are those who have a personal experience of God’s miraculous healing and deliverance, and whose lives have been transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of their gratitude to God, they came to the El Shaddai office to volunteer for any kind of work, without expecting monetary returns. They offered their time and talent for whatever way they could help in the Foundation.
A Brief History
Brother Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, Servant-Leader of El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, is a geodetic engineer by profession and a real estate developer in business. Actually, he had neither planned to lead any charismatic community nor dreamed of proclaiming the Good News of Salvation. By the miracle-working power of God’s Word, El Shaddai turned Bro. Mike from “a fisher of dollars and pesos to a fisher of men for Christ Jesus,” and the incident led to the birth of El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI.
The turning point of his life was sometime in February 1978, when at the age of 38, Bro. Mike was scheduled for a major surgery due to heart enlargement and heart block at the Philippine Heart Center. For three weeks he lay on his hospital bed—downhearted, hopeless and fearful for a heart attack. However, at one hour past midnight, an angel of the Lord appeared inside his room and said, “Mike Velarde, I’ve been watching you for the past three weeks. If you allow me, I’ll open that Bible beside you and show you a way out of your predicament. An angel opened the Bible to 1 Corinthians 10:13 and told him to read it again and again. He then recovered his health and became fisher of men of God Almighty—El Shaddai.
Asiaweek has named Mariano Z. Velarde as one of Asia’s 50 most powerful persons, and described him coming from humble beginnings in Catanduanes, in Bicol. It also described him that Mike Velarde was a movie producer and a real-estate developer and also gambled in Manila casinos and drank. His real estate business floundered.
Bro. Mike Velarde often recounts his conversion in his preaching—the incident of the turning point of his life in 1978. In his own words, Velarde recalls:
My involvement in the renewal movement started when I was healed of heart enlargement and heart block at the Philippine Heart in 1978 without undergoing the proposed operation. There I received a revelation. Actually, a lady dressed in a nurse’s uniform came into my room past midnight, and opened the Bible to me insisting that I read a passage (1 Cor 10:13) in the Bible and it would help. Indeed, it did, because after that I was able to recompose myself in praying. The following morning, I was up on my feet.
So in 1981 he renewed his promise: “For as long as I have speech and life, I promise to proclaim the Good News of Yahweh El Shaddai!” He first served God through a Catholic charismatic movement in the archdiocese of Manila. He bought a property in Paranaque, the site of DWXI radio station. In the beginning Velarde just wanted to stay in the background and financially help the movement. “When I put up the El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partner Foundation, my intention of heading this ministry was only to channel through the foundation my financial support to various charismatic movements,” recalls Velarde.
Four months after the start of his radio apostolate, he felt his efforts were useless because there was no feedback. Then he got a letter from a woman who had been suffering from migraine for seventeen years. She said that listening to the radio program while he prayed had cured her ailment. The woman requested him not to quit the radio apostolate. After one week, more letters came from listeners. They praised and thanked God because they had heard the life-giving Good News which gave them hope and a direction for life, and because of the cures they received.
El Shaddai as an organization was founded in August 1984 during his birthday “with a small flock of some 15 members, mostly friends, employees of his real-estate company, and neighbors.” Velarde explains its subsequent growth:
The Lord has a purpose. I did not expect all this. All over the world the response is tremendous. A parish priest in Vancouver said, this group is really different. It has enlivened the parish and is growing. Non-Filipinos have joined, Japanese in Japan.
During the seventh year of the ministry, however, there were three major setbacks, which Velarde attributes to the devil. The first was financial. When the business climate went sour in 1984, he owed around 200 million pesos in loans. Some banks foreclosed on his properties mortgaged to them. He had to convert his office into an emergency residence for his family.
The second crisis followed the first. During the financial crunch, his wife asked him to stop the ministry. She threatened to leave him and go abroad with her four children.
The third crisis was more insidious. His trusted staff members of DWXI Radio deserted him. They sabotaged the equipment so that the radio was off the air for two months. Furthermore, the staff charged him with stealing 1.7 million pesos of the foundation fund. They blemished his reputation by news reports that hit the front page of the national dailies. These accusations in the dailies were timed to coincide with the El Shaddai mass and healing rally at the Folk Arts Theater, the purpose was to discourage people from attending it.
Velarde attributes his overcoming on these battles to the following factors:
(1) I submitted myself to God Almighty. I did not fight back on my own, but on God’s Word.
(2) I submitted myself to the church and government authorities and refused to fight back…
(3) I refused to do wrong despite the pressures brought upon me.
By 1988 his financial troubles were over. He recovered his assets and his role as founder of El Shaddai has actually improved his business. He owns the ADV Realty and Delta Broadcasting radio station which owns DWXI and ranks third in over-all radio ratings. He also heads the El Shaddai Golden Rule Company. His wife, in trouble years of their loss had disappointed on him and had said to leave the family. But now she did not leave him; and did not stand against his El Shaddai ministry. After a tragic troubles faced in his family there was subsequent miraculous cures and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the rallies fanned popular support and overcame the black propaganda.
Among World Religions Christianity is the biggest and also in Christianity itself Catholic Church is the biggest. The country Philippines in particular is the sole Catholic country in Asia composing 80 percent population of the whole country. Within this considerable situation the said El Shaddai Movement arose. To my observation, the El Shaddai Catholic Charismatic Movement in Philippines is penetrating more and more the Center Catholicism not only in the region but also even the West and Vatican. I feel deeply it is worthy to learn and investigate more about the entire ministry of El Shaddai so as to envision the benefit of our traditional churches. This is why I particularly get interested and chose this movement for the research.
Current Practices, Polity, and Success
The El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International holds its weekly Family Appointment with El Shaddai every Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the AMVEL Business Park, Sucat Paranaque City. Daily fellowship is held at 118 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. except every Tuesday wherein it is held at AMVEL. Daily fellowship in Makati City has different programs such as Bible Study, Counseling and Prayer, and special meeting with bro. Mike.
El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI largely uses Roman Catholic liturgies. Most significantly Sacrament of Mass and Confession of sins are most evident elements. The usual order of meeting runs as follows. Before the start of the program there were gospel songs and meditative songs played to the hearing of the whole meeting ground. The actual order of program starts at 4:30 p.m. led by Music Ministry singers and joined by gathering mass. There was a traditional folk dance performed by a group of dancers at every item of mass praising song. Following this Praise and Worship song, there was a lengthy citation of selected Scripture text reading led by selected leaders from the stage. The vast congregation follows after the leader’s reading and sometimes cited in unison. After this text citation, there follows a very attractive and devotional Catholic liturgy led by a group of leaders and pronounced by Bishop Bacani, overall spiritual director of El Shaddai. After this liturgy the sermon follows—preached by Bishop Bacani that night 17 November 2007. The sermon was quite long, but no one is bored of it.
The service order of “Praise and Worship” is very much similar to “Day by Day Christian Ministry” way, which I also visited the service on 7 October 2007 on Sunday. Day by Day Christian Ministry also has a large congregation of followers in the Philippines. They worship at a very spacious building of Folk Arts Theater Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Volunteer disciple-preachers are assigned on rotation to different provincial chapters or prayer groups and also some of El Shaddai International chapters to share the Word of God—the Good News of Salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The membership of the Foundation consists of covenant members & followers here and abroad—those who attend the fellowships at Paranaque City, Luneta and other places (local & international chapters) where these are being held; and those who watch Saturday (8:00 a.m.—11:00 am.) and Sunday (10:30 p.m.—1:00 a.m.) TV programs over IBC-13 and the Sunday (7:00 a.m.—8:00 a.m.) TV programs on the Filipino channel (TFC); and those who listen over DWXI (1314 KHz) AM radio daily from 4:30 a.m. to 12:00 midnight.
Bro. Mike spends at least one million pesos a week for the overnight rally and TV air time. El Shaddai also funds free literature and helps charitable causes. If a conservative estimate of one million pesos is spent weekly, it would add up to 52 million pesos annually. Many have questioned the non-transparency of the donations from the followers. Bro. Mike assures them that El Shaddai has an accounting system and yearly audit. The full-time volunteers receive monthly and daily stipends on the principle of “no work, no pay.” The monthly payroll averages three million pesos (US$115,845).
The organizational structures of El Shaddai may be grouped into three parts: the international, the national, and the local. El Shaddai is an international organization. It has more than 10,000 full-time workers who offer themselves to the causes of the movement. It has also part-time volunteers who have their own regular jobs. The Hong Kong chapter, which has between 30,000 to 40,000 supporting members, is the biggest El Shaddai chapter outside the Philippines. Hong Kong chapter is the secretariat or headquarters of the international group that coordinates the other international chapters; Los Angeles—the center for the United States and North America; and Rome is the secretariat for Europe.
Organization and Structure of El Shaddai
Source : Bagong Liwanag Magazine, April-August 1997, pp. 9-10 +28
In the Philippines the movement has 500,000 card-bearing members who follow the movement on the El Shaddai television and radio broadcasts and occasionally attend the huge prayer meetings at the PICC grounds. It has also non-card bearing members who also attend the weekly sessions in the parishes.
The central national body has three main groups: finance, administration, and a group dedicated purely to studying and preaching the Word of God. The financial arm handles the donations and expenses. The administrative arm takes care of the personnel and human resources.
Mike Velarde, as the servant-leader, is assisted by the spiritual director (bishops and priests) and by the executive secretariat, which is composed of the heads of the different ministries. The seven ministries are music, education, outreach (operation), international chapters, administrative services, finances, and media. A council of elders numbering 24 members assists Bro. Mike in running the organization. As a foundation, El Shaddai also has its board of trustees.
As far as my knowledge, I never heard of any new religious movement or a well established church/denomination ever has such radio and TV stations like El Shaddai does. This is one of tremendous strength and speed of El Shaddai to be able to extend in a quick mode throughout the regions and abroad as well. I cannot even imagine how could El Shaddai manage and arrange such wide program of broadcasting Good News throughout the region that needs to involve with technical and managerial experts.
Out of seven ministries shown in organizational structure of El Shaddai, it has been witnessed that media ministry is the most effective to spread the good news of El Shaddai and strengthens the entire ministry as a whole. The Radio program (DWXI-Radio) has been called “Elijah for Us Today.” DWXI Radio Station has grown tremendously in power. From the original 2,500 watts, it is now operating at 15,000 watts and presently rated among the top five AM radio stations in Metro Manila in listenership.
With the El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI Ministry, Philippines is witnessing a real spiritual and moral revival, shaking established religious organizations and denominations. The Catholic Church, which El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI primarily aims to serve, is divided on the issue. Protestants, Pentecostals, Fundamentalists, Iglesia ni Cristo members, and members of other denominations are trooping to El Shaddai fellowships and mass and healing rallies regularly all over the land. Communities and cell groups are sprouting everywhere like mushrooms, in different cities and capital towns all over the Philippines.
There are television and radio air time such as the delayed telecasts of El Shaddai over IBC TV-13 and their live broadcasts over DWXI (1314 KHz) AM radio; and the broadcasts and telecasts of some of El Shaddai programs in the different radio and television stations all over Philippines, in Hong Kong and Southern California, USA. There were twenty-one Radio and TV Stations that air the Good News of El Shaddai in 1997 in the Philippines.
El Shaddai also has Muslim members and its main office also employs converts from Islam. Velarde says: “Our main objective is to unite.” He opts for the unity of faiths. “It is my wish and prayer that one day we can come together in one massive demonstration of unity in faith. This will only be realized if all those who have been called to lead every ministry will forget themselves individually and work for unity.”
Velarde reports, “In Hong Kong many Buddhists converted to Christianity.” This is because their Filipino domestic helpers who are El Shaddai members evangelize their children. The children in turn evangelize their parents. Several Buddhist families in Hong Kong have converted to our faith.
Every Easter Sunday, the service includes adult baptisms. They number between 80 to 120, and most of them come from other faiths.
The following factors explain the tremendous following and success of El Shaddai: (1) the emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit, (2) the attractive liturgy, (3) the effective use of communication, (4) the charisma and method of Mike Velarde, (5) the fact that El Shaddai answers the needs of the people, (6) the theology used, (7) the empowerment of the laity that it achieves, and (8) the use of Filipino symbols. These factors actually are facets of the same reality and therefore support each other. They are also aspects of Philippine inculturation.
The Emphasis on the Role of the Holy Spirit
Charismatic and Pentecostal movements are a feature of our times. In fact, Harvey Cox, a theologian based in Harvard, writes that the future of Christianity lies in Pentecostalism, and statistics support his view. In recent history, Charismatic, or Pentecostal movements have risen tremendously throughout the world.
What Cox describes as a universal phenomenon is certainly true of the Philippines, as can be seen by the fact that, in the Philippines, the Born Again and charismatic churches have come to greatly outnumber the long-established Protestant churches. El Shaddai, as a charismatic movement, is a part of this phenomenon.
Pentecostalism is built on what Cox calls “the recovery of primal speech.” The kind of primal speech to which he refers appears to have survived in Filipino folk Christianity. Filipino Christians have built their Christianity over their original primal religion. Their popular devotions reflect the traditional ethnic religion. Notable examples are such phenomena as the devotions to Santo Nino and the Black Nazarene.
When Mike Velarde was asked the main reason for the success of El Shaddai, he admitted he could not explain the phenomena. But he said:
The only simple explanation is that we firmly believe the Lord is at work in this ministry. What happened during the Acts of the Apostles is happening right here now. It seems that the Holy Spirit’s unction is moving within the ministry.
He continues: “My reading is that the El Shaddai movement is a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles. I think the Holy Spirit is no longer restrained.”
When asked about what is wrong in the Catholic Church as it is at present, Velarde answered:
I would not say it’s wrong. I would say it’s what’s lacking inside the Church, because look at what’s happening with our regular Sunday mass. Everybody is quiet. We just keep the priest by himself on the altar praying, and doing everything. The people do not participate. Now here, at the El Shaddai, everybody participates. We pray together, we sing together.
The traditional clerical regimentation of liturgy in many places has stifled lay participation. But not in El Shaddai: “We allow every body to express their faith in God freely,” says Velarde. The attractive liturgy of El Shaddai, says Bishop Bacani, “is a combination of good preaching and also the Filipino penchant for the dramatic.” The El Shaddai prayer meetings are always emotional. If they are sad, they cry; if they are happy they laugh and shout. People are encouraged to be themselves. Since Filipinos are an emotional people and think concretely, the majority does not go for much intellectualizing. The strong sense of fellowship answers the followers’ needs in their emotional woundedness.
The prayer meetings of El Shaddai, be they held at the PICC grounds or in parish assemblies, follow a similar pattern in their sequence, choice of songs, gestures, and sharing of personal experience. The parish units usually have between 20 to 50 followers who form a prayer group. They meet weekly for a prayer meeting and a mass. Visitors to these local prayer meetings are warmly welcomed and acknowledged before the gathering. The warm reception gives visitors a sense of belonging. Preachers trained by the El Shaddai Foundation give the input. These preachers follow the style of Mike Velarde. Each unit has a chairman.
The prayer services attract attendance from other religions. Most of them do not show their church membership. But some, like those from the Born-Again movement, show their IDs to Velarde. Many Protestants also attend. The experience of the prayer meetings has encouraged some former Catholics to return to the fold. At the end of the liturgy of the word, Mike Velarde raises his hands in blessing. He makes the sign of the cross, perhaps as a Catholic compromise.
According to Covar, the liturgy of El Shaddai is a cross between Protestantism and Catholicism. The manner of songs, readings, and preaching has something similar to the Protestant counterpart in the prayer meetings. Many of the songs chosen are quite Protestant. The testimonies (patotoo) of the El Shaddai followers also have the flavor of Protestantism.
El Shaddai has effective tapped the use of mass media. In 1992, it started broadcasting on television, and currently broadcasts 14 hours of television time weekly in various channels all over the country. Television and radio beam the giant prayer rallies. In fact, during the huge rallies, the crowds take along their radio sets to follow the activities in the central state. DWXI, the radio station rated third most popular in Metro Manila, broadcasts 24 hours daily. Other radio stations in the country also have El Shaddai programs.
Besides television and radio, El Shaddai has tapped the print media, it came out in 1986 with Bagong Liwanag Magazine. It prints the talks of Velarde, testimonies of members regarding graces received such as miraculous cures, blessings in business, overcoming of bad habits, and conversion. It distributes 300,000 copies per monthly issue. Since 1991, the movement started the Miracle Newsletter which reaches 150,000 copies per issue. Furthermore, Bro. Mike has written two monographs, Mga Butil ng Gintong Aral ni El Shaddai (a collection of modern parables preached in the prayer rallies) and How to Win Your Battles All the Time. All these publications are distributed worldwide free of charge.
It also distributes VHS and cassette tapes on Elshaddai. The testimonies of followers in other countries report on how these have effected cures.
Another effective communication is word of mouth. The infectious enthusiasm of the members attracts people. The people’s testimonies in El Shaddai do not come across as scripted and memorized. They are convincing and win people over.
The Charisma and Method of Mike Velarde
Like any movement, El Shaddai identifies itself with the charism of its founder. Mike Velarde claims to be a servant leader and at the same time a servant of God. He projects himself as one with close contact with God from whom he receives messages. Velarde then brings the messages to the people.
Bishop Manuel Sobrevinas of the Imus diocese admits: “When I say Mass with the followers of El Shaddai, I feel ‘envious’ of Bro. Mike because I cannot do what he does. Just one word from him and the people are happy and awake. But when I speak, it seems that the people are sleeping.” Even without any formal training, Mike Velarde seems to outdo priests. While people get bored if the priest preaches more than ten minutes in the Sunday homily, the followers of El Shaddai delight in hearing him preach for two or three hours. He jokes a lot in his preaching, He touches the hearts of the people.
Bro. Mike’s way of preaching is very well suited to the mentality and the needs of the people,” says Bishop Teodoro Bacani, spiritual director of the Catholic charismatic renewal in the archdiocese of Manila. His speaking skills and interactive style keep people alert. He intersperses his talks with anecdotes and songs. He asks questions and the people answer. The people do not get bored with his dialogical style of preaching, in which people clap their hands, greet each other, enjoy the jokes, cry together, and take part actively by raising their hands or jumping together when told to.
One of Velarde’s approaches is the use of modern parables, as he has mentioned in his booklet. Among his imageries are fingers, trashcans, soap, telephones, bottles, swords, ice, goats, smoke, seat-belts, etc. They are images that his audience can easily understand. Filipinos are used to the symbolical imagery of proverbs. He connects these parables with biblical quotations and corroborates them with personal testimonies.
Mike prepares his weekly talks by spending time at a sea-side resort. He goes to Puerto Azul from Thursday evening to Saturday morning. There he communes with God. Communing with the Lord before the overnight rallies, he prays and asks one important question, “What do the people need?” Then a verse comes to his mind and, as he picks up the Bible, the Word unfolds before him. This meditative preparation is, perhaps, the most effective strength for him to lead the El Shaddai, said sister Vicky Carpez on 26 November 2007 at Center Office in Makati City.
El Shaddai answers the needs of the people
El Shaddai scratches where it itches. It responds to the needs of its followers. The followers of El Shaddai usually come from the lower class. Where poverty exists, as in the Philippines, the main concerns naturally are income and health. Mike Velarde tries to answer these needs, so he strikes a chord in the hearts of the poor. He, therefore, is one of the few persons who has extensively served the poor in the Philippine church.
People attribute miracles and cures to him, even reviving a dead child which a woman brought to him. Velarde attributes these cures and miracles to God. Besides the cure of diseases, some testify that El Shaddai has “patched up broken marriages, eradicated homosexual desires, eliminated addictions or landed them jobs abroad.” El Shaddai also tries to financially help its followers. Members who buy shares in El Shaddai Golden Rule Co. are assured of income.
Reflection and Key Learning
El Shaddai DXWI-PPFI is, in my opinion, not like other New Religious Movements. As most authors on New Religious Movement commonly assert most of New Religious Movements are labeled as “Cults”. Cult in its nature is opposing party of the host religion/society. A cult is a religious group characteristic by relatively small size, hidden or little-known teachings, powerful leadership, comprehensive cosmic vision, and existing in a state of tension with the host society.
But, El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, in other word, is neither a cult nor a sect in my observation. It is not to be labeled as cult or sect because it is only just one charismatic movement within Catholic Church itself. There is no significant feature of a doctrinally or liturgically distinct of from Catholic Church to label it as sect. Bro. Mike, a Servant-Leader said that our vision is to bring about a revival of the true Christian spirit in our Catholic faith. By religious affinity, I am a Catholic. I intend to stay a Catholic. Our calling is not to establish another religion but to help the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Servant-volunteer workers of the El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI must be baptized Catholics and their belief about the Holy Eucharist must be one with the Catholic faith.
One of the greatest strength of El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, to my observation, is its intensive teaching in Christian giving. Bro. Mike says, “Since I learned about God’s promises on giving of tithes and miracle-seed-of-faith offerings and put these principles into practice. God has been working financial miracles in my life and blessed me tremendously.” He further says, “He desires that people may also be blessed by the Lord and experience financial freedom and prosperity. I always boldly share in my preaching about the principle of giving of tithe and seed-of-faith offering.”
This teaching is also published in a book for FREE distribution. He systematically as well as Biblically emphasized giving tithe and other offerings for true Christians. Following this, but inseparable is his teaching of Christian stewardship. I believe these constant teachings are the main strength of El Shaddai which could maintain the entire movement to be able to support the entire financial needs. El Shaddai members are enthusiastic and vigorous in giving tithe and other Christian giving and offerings.
The strength of El Shaddai, in my observation are 1) its support to the nation and government in terms of making people’s ethical and moral life into a changed life, and 2) its support to Central Catholic tradition—especially its liturgies and Holy Mass. To mention Bro. Mike’s challenging message (“Missing Part”) to a gathered thousands people:
If we are to see a positive change in our system, the people—the rich and the poor, the governors and the governed, you and I—must first have a “positive heart transplant”: the “Missing Part” must be supplied to every man. With this change of the hearts of our people, the life of our nation will change!
With faith, love and unity stirred up by the “Missing Part”, we, in the El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partners International Catholic Charismatic Movement, hope to make a difference in every major issue concerning the Church and the government.
Further he challenge people in his sermon: thus bringing to reality our quest for national peace, unity and prosperity for all of us! We need God-fearing and people-caring leaders in the government and in the Church today—people who have found and possessed the power of the “Missing Part.”
Throughout the Magazines and Newsletters mentioned in Bibliography section all contained and reflected the strength and valuable victory of El Shaddai. We read lots of testimonies and sharing from a number of converts from different situations and people changing their lives through hearing the message of El Shaddai. Such testimonies and sharing came not only from local Philippine communities but also from overseas communities which they called “Oversea Chapters.” This reveals the very strength of El Shaiddai being involved and focusing on the needs of the common people, even the marginalized.
As asserted by Kraft, “a faith is a commitment to someone or something, supported by a set of deep worldview-level assumptions” the El Shaddai movement bears quite convincing as well as strong faith in implementing its work for the sake of the community. This community is mostly the poor and needy classes, the marginalized, and people on the roads told me one. Bro. Mike answered the following when he was asked “Does the El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI offer social services?” We offer our members and followers, especially the poor ones in 1) Medical and Dental services for health; 2) Burial assistance and Disaster or Relief assistance during fire, flood, earthquakes, storm, and other calamities. To me, this social welfare works of El Shaddai is its real-touching and far-reaching ministry as well.
Because the El Shaddai group is focused on the person of Mike Velarde, it has become like a cult. For this cultic system in nature, many have made predict on the future of El Shaddai. Some said, El Shaddai will split up after the time Bro. Mike Velarde; some said, it will bolt away from the Catholic Church. No one knows the future exactly, the future will tell the fate of El Shaddai. As earlier quoted Harvey Cox, who said that the future of Christianity points towards Pentecostalism, Velarde, in agreeing with this argues, “What I am seeing now, and I hope I am not mistaken, will drastically change the religious organization in the Catholic Church.”
Bro. Mike, a servant-leader was prominent and also eloquent in speaking and dramatizing his sermons impressive. His sermons from those Newsletters and Magazine of El Shaddai are really heart-touching messages to the audiences. Most of their materials come with Tagalog and only few English sections are available to me for this research. Some of them are: “Press Conference on CBCP’s Concern” in Bagong Liwanag Magazine, p. 8; “Understanding God’s Forgiveness” in Newsletter Vol. VI-4, pp. 3ff; “Understanding God’s Love” in Newsletters VIII-1, pp. 8-11; “I Hate Divorce! Says the Lord…” in MN 1-2000, pp. 1-7; “The Importance of Hope” and “When You Walk Thru A Storm…” in Miracle Newsletters, Vol. V-3, pp. 3-4 & 5-7; “My Peace I Give To You” in Miracle Newsletters, Vol. VI-2, pp. 3-7; “The Missing Part” in Miracle Newsletter, Vol. VII-1, pp. 3-7; “The Importance of Wisdom” in Miracle Newsletter 2-2000, pp. 4-6; “The Importance of Wisdom (Part II)” in Miracle Newsletter 1-2001, pp. 4-6. These sermons and expressions are really heart-touching and meaningful to all the readers, said several testimonials.
During my visit to the EL SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc. on 17 November 2007 (3:30-10:00 PM), I have a chance to interview some participants. Most of them I interviewed are aged people. Usually the sermon is delivered after 9.00 PM. All are eager to hear the sermon by bishop Bacani. I saw no one feeling sleepy until the end of the sermon. People around me whom I asked about the prayer and the sermon told me the similar opinion. They told me, the liturgy we meditate and the sermon we hear are really touching our hearts every time afresh. They really make us change at least something in our lives each time. That’s the reason we try to come over this prayer meeting from quite far places without missing even a single week. What make these people to come to El Shaddai? I believe it is because El Shaddai meets the needs of the people as Bro. Mike usually ask God whenever he prepares for sermon. This is the dynamic strength of the movement.
The visit of El Shaddai Headquarter Office on 26 November 2007, also reflect something beautiful and lovely atmosphere. With my class mate Van Bik, we have a chance to talk with brother Leto (an active office worker) who leads us to their department offices respectively. We talk with Bro. Mike’s secretary (a woman physically big structured but good appearance with her quick in speaking). Unfortunately, we could not have a chance to talk with Bro. Mike, the founder and the leader of El Shaddai. To talk with him usually needs to write a request letter for an appointment and it takes at least one week ahead time.
There are several departments of offices occupying a number of floors and rooms by the El Shaddai. For example, several rooms of 2nd to 5th floor are the offices of El Shaddai, at Queensway Commercial Center Building—118 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Bible study is going on in one big room, people who came for prayer are also gathered in another room, and many visitors are in and out on and on. We visit the Publication Department office and talk with them about 50 minutes. They give us whatever they have of magazines and newsletters for free. We thank them deep and wide. We talk about the El Shaddai with them and ask them whatever we want to know of them. They shared us freely and openly too. Sister Vickey Carpez and sister Gam Meng are to whom we talk with. This visit makes me to really think how El Shaddai is big but actively working. No one can tell the future, but I believe El Shaddai will stand continuous to transform the religions in Philippines, especially the Catholic Church as a whole.
As mentioned earlier, for me El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI movement is neither a cult nor sect which usually hostile to and separated from the host church in nature. El Shaddai is a charismatic movement which supports and strengthens will remain active under the Catholic Church. If it breaks up from the recognition, I believe El Shaddai will not be able successful much more in a certain degree. I sincerely believe that Bro. Mike foresees this reality. He has no plans of separating himself from the Catholic Church. He said, “I have no plans of putting up my own religion. That is a problem. Besides my calling is to build the temple of the Holy Spirit—it is not a temple made of wood or stones.” Bibliography
Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde. How To Win Your Battles All The Time, First Printing. Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila: El Shaddai Miracle Publications, 1992.
Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde. El Shaddai’s Miracle Assurance Policy Against Sickness, Famine and Bankruptcy, First Printing. Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila: El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partners Foundation International, 1993.
Charles H. Kraft (ed.), Appropriate Christianity. Pasadena, California: William Carey Library 2005.
Mercado, Leonardo N. SVD. El Shaddai: A study.Manila: Logos Publications, Inc. 2001.
“Defining Cults” from Ron Rhoades, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: the essential guide to their history, their doctrine, and our response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.
“New Religious Movements and Cultural Analysis Course Material” for Ph. D. in Religious Studies by Professor Dr. Jose Andres Sotto. Manila: Philippine Christian University, 2007.
“The New Religious Movements in Contemporary Western Culture An Overview” from John A. Saliba, Understanding New Religious Movements. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 1996.
“What are New Religious Movements?” from Lorne L. Dawson, Comprehending Cults: the sociology of new religious movements. Toronto; NY: Oxford University Press Canada, 1998.
Magazines and Newsletters of El Shaddai
El Shaddai: Bagong Liwanag Magazine, “DWXI-PPFI Holy Week Celebration,” April—June 1999.
El Shaddai: Bagong Liwanag Magazine, “DWXI-PPFI 15th Anniversary Celebration of Faith, Love and Unity,” July—December 1999.
A Miracle Newsletter of the DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, MN 1-2000 “I Hate Divorce! Says the Lord…”
A Miracle Newsletter of the DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, MN 2-2000 “The Importance of Wisdom”
A Miracle Newsletter of the DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, MN 1-2001 “The Importance of Wisdom (Part II)
A Miracle Newsletter of El SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc., Volume V, No. 3 “The Importance of Hope”
A Miracle Newsletter of El SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc., Volume VI, No. 2 “My Peace I Give To You”
A Miracle Newsletter of El SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc., Volume VI, No. 4 “Understanding God’s Forgiveness”
A Miracle Newsletter of El SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc., Volume VII, No. 1 “The Missing Part”
A Miracle Newsletter of El SHADDAI-DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, Volume VIII, No. 1 “Understanding God’s Love”
El Shaddai official website. URL: http://www.geocities.com/elshaddai_dwxi_ppfi/
International Chapters web sites:
USA and Canada, URL: http://www.elshaddai-dwxippfi.org/
USA, URL: http://www.elshaddai.us/index.htm
Asiaweek Magazine. URL: http://www.asiaweek.com/asiaweek/96/0920/feat11.html
 Leonardo N. Mercado, SVD. El Shaddai: A study (Manila: Logos Publications, Inc. 2001), p. 1.
 Ibid., p. 30. Bishop Bacani says, “The Catholic Church of the Philippines today has become stronger because of El Shaddia.
 Retrieve from Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia. URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Shaddai_%28movement%29. See also Leonardo N. Mercado, SVD. El Shaddai, p. 20. In January 1995, Paul John II visited Manila and Bro. Mike Velarde was introduced among other prominent Catholic leaders.
 El Shaddai Newsletters Vol. VI-4, p. 7. See also Bro. Mike Answers Frequently-Asked Questions about El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, p. 1.
 Bro. Mike Answers Frequently-Asked Questions about El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, p. 1. See also El Shaddai website, URL: http://www.geocities.com/elshaddai_kw/esfaq.htm#faq1 (Accessed on 10 November 2007).
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 22.
 Bro. Mike Answers Frequently-Asked Questions about El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, p. 2.
 “Profile In A Capsule” in El Shaddai DXWI-Prayer Partners Foundation International, Inc. News, p. 1.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 3.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 3. See also “Profile in a Capsule” at El Shaddai Website URL: http://www.geocities.com/elshaddai_dwxi_ppfi/
 Ibid.,pp. 3-4.
 Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, El Shaddai’s Miracle Assurance Policy: Against sickness, Famine and Bankruptcy, 1st printing (Makati City, Metro Manila: El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, 1993), p. 18.
 Ibid., p. 5.
 Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, How To Win Your Battles All The Time, 1st Printing (Makati, Metro Manila: El Shaddi Miracle Publications, 1992), pp. 23-30. This incident is delivered in his sermon “How I Won My Battles in this Ministry.” See also L. N. Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 5.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 6.
 “Profile In A Capsule” in El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partners Foundation International, News, p. 3.
 “Profile In A Capsule” in El Shaddai DWXI-Prayer Partners Foundation International Inc. News, p. 3.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, pp. 27-28, 20-21.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 34.
 Ibid.,p. 21.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, pp. 21-22.
 Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, El Shaddai’s Miracle Assurance Policy, p. 20.
 Bro. Mike Answeres Frequently-Asked Questions About El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, p. 3.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 33. See Appendix 1 for detail stations and air times.
 Ibid., p. 9. Quoted from Gamboa, Coylee et al. Servant Leaders, Their Mission, Their Message. NR, National Renewal, December: 17-17.
 Ibid., El Shaddai, p. 9.
 Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, El Shaddai’s Miracle Assurance Policy, pp. 20-21. See also Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 10.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 6.
 Ibid., p. 7.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 7.
 Ibid., p. 8.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, pp. 8- 9.
 Ibid., p. 9. Quoted from an interview with Dr. Prospero Covar (Dept. of Anthropology, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City), November 1995.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p.10.
 Ibid., pp. 10-11.
 Ibid., p. 11.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 11.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 12.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, pp. 14-15.
 “New Religious Movements and Cultural Analysis Course Material” for Ph. D. in Religious Studies by Professor Dr. Jose Andres Sotto (Manila: Philippine Christian University, 2007), p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 8. See definition on “Sect”.
 Bro. Mike Answers Frequently-Asked Questions About El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, pp. 1-2.
 Bro. Mike Answers Frequently-Asked Questions About El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, p. 2.
 Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, El Shaddai’s Miracle Assurance Policy, pp. 51-76.
 Miracle Newsletter Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 5.
 Miracle Newsletter Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 6.
 Charles H. Kraft (ed.), Appropriate Christianity (Pasadena, California: William Carey Library 2005), p. 87.
 Bro. Mike Answers Frequently-Asked Questions About El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI, p. 3.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 30.
 Bro. Mariano “Mike” Z. Velarde, El Shaddai’s Miracle Assurance Policy, pp. 23-30.
 Mercado, El Shaddai, p. 30.