I am Pedro “Pete” Reyes-Meléndez, Jr., born 1941 in Malaybalay (now a city), in the mountainous Province of Bukidnón, in the heart of Mindanao, the Philippines’ second largest island. After World War II, my family moved to Cagayán (now Cagayán de Oro City), in the neighboring coastal Province of Misamis Oriental, in northern Mindanao. It was here where I spent most of my childhood and finished my elementary and secondary school education.
My mother (Luz Santiago-Reyes) was the eldest child of one of the first Filipino Protestant or evangelical pastors (Alejandro Hernández-Reyes) in the Province of Bulacán, on the island of Luzón, the country’s biggest. Sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century [1914-1922], my grandfather became the second bishop in the country’s, presumably, first indigenous Protestant denomination, the Iglesia Evangélica Metodista Independiente en las Islas Filipinas (IEMIELIF) – the Independent Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippine Islands, founded in 1909. (The denomination is now simply known as IEMELIF, with the word “Independent” dropped.)
My father (Pedro Domingo Bustillo-Meléndez, Sr.), a native of Bukidnón, converted from Roman Catholic to Protestant when he came to Cagayán for his secondary school education. My father and mother came to know each other while attending a Protestant fellowship when they were students at the University of the Philippines in Manila – she a College of Education student (major in English), he a law student on a government scholarship.
As a result, I grew up in a thoroughly Protestant home environment, definitely a factor in my early acquaintance with the Holy Bible. When I was barely 6, I was “baptized” (or dedicated to God), by the late American missionary in Mindanao Dr. Frank Laubach, according to rites in the United Evangelical Church (UEC) in Cagayán. The UEC later became part of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the church in which I grew up while my family resided in Cagayán de Oro City.
Having read the Bible and having attended Sunday school classes as a boy, however, didn’t mean I had acquired a good understanding of the message of the Book. Neither did attending Bible and religion classes in a Protestant college (I finished a preparatory medical course in Silliman University at Dumaguete City in the Visayan Islands) bring me the satisfying knowledge and character change which somehow I felt were sorely lacking in my life.
During some personal crisis (in the early up to the mid-1960s, because of which I was unable to proceed to medical school) I came in contact with literature which my father had been receiving from the then Radio Church of God (later renamed Worldwide Church of God), with headquarters in Pasadena, California, U.S.A.
At first I was piqued by the church’s seeming arrogance and a “know-it-all” air. But I took up the challenge to “prove all things” from the Bible and to not just assume what others have said about what the Bible teaches. “Don’t believe what I say – believe what you find written in the Bible!” went the challenge, based on 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test [or ‘Prove,’ King James Version] all things; hold fast what is good” (New King James Version, my choice of Bible translation in most of my writings on this website).
Having pored over the church’s literature for months, and having checked it carefully in my Bible (which I thought I knew very well), I was dumb-founded! Eventually I concluded that the teachings of this church were in agreement with the Bible. As I had prayed, I believe I was guided by God’s Spirit through all this study.
I thought to myself, “If this church is the right train to God’s kingdom, I had better hop in on it or else I’ll be left behind!” Before long I was baptized by one of the church’s ministers. Over the years I found my association with the members of this church, by God’s grace, to be filled with Christ’s love and helpful to my physical, mental and emotional wellness and spiritual growth as a Christian.
Shortly after I finished my bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, I came to be employed by the church’s Manila office under Arthur W. Docken as director. For many years I served as that office’s main personal correspondent, answering the many questions sent in by readers of the church’s literature (chief of which was The Plain Truth magazine) and listeners and viewers of the church’s radio and television program (The World Tomorrow). I was also a sometime writer for the church’s national and international publications.
In October 1978, I was ordained an elder in the church. In February 1982, when he visited Manila, our denomination’s founder and pastor general (Herbert W. Armstrong) ordained me a “minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He was assisted in that ordination by WCG Regional Directors Robert Morton (Australia) and Guy Ames (Philippines).
In 1985 my fellow church elders and I along with ministerial trainees underwent some nine months of in-house theological/Biblical studies (called “Ministerial Education Program”) conducted in Baguio City, in northern Luzón, by long-time pastor from our Pasadena headquarters, Dean Blackwell.
At the end of that training program I was ordained a pastor. For some 20 years afterwards I served as pastor of several WCG congregations in the Metropolitan Manila area, with special assignments to visit outlying church areas (including Guam and Micronesia) as well as to write and edit articles for the church’s national publications. For a time I also simultaneously assisted the national office in serving the needs of the Philippine field ministers while I continued to serve as the office’s personal correspondent.
My wife and I (along with other ministers and wives from the Philippines and other international areas) also had five occasions to attend the church-sponsored “Ministerial Refreshing Program” (MRP) during the period 1981 to 1989. These refresher courses were held in the WCG world headquarters on the Ambassador College (later University) campus at Pasadena, California.
In January 1986 Mr. Armstrong died, and the office of pastor general fell on Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. Under the new leadership the Worldwide Church of God went through several major doctrinal changes starting in the late 1980s and climaxing in what have since been called the “changes,” beginning in late 1994, described as the “new covenant” teachings.
All through those years I had gone along with many of the denomination’s changes. I did this in sincere obedience to Mr. Armstrong, who – just months before his death – had preached that our salvation somehow depended on how well we submitted ourselves to the man who would succeed him as pastor general after he was gone. Mr. Armstrong said: “If I were not here, it would be another who would become Pastor General. And if that should happen, if you want to get into God’s Kingdom you will follow that Pastor General; and you will remain united, and you will remain one. And your eternity depends on that, every one of you. Don’t you forget it.” (Feast of Trumpets, September 16, 1985)
With the “changes” which the WCG underwent while Mr. Armstrong’s successor Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. was pastor general, many of our brethren left the church and formed or joined one of many splinter groups that chose to remain in what they considered “the faith once delivered.”
With the changes, however, our denomination also came to be recognized and embraced by the greater evangelical community, which used to call the WCG a “cult.” Church historian Ruth Tucker wrote about this astounding transformation — hailed by many as a “modern miracle” — as coming “From the Fringe to the Fold.” In fact, several WCG members have since joined one evangelical church or another of their choice.
We WCG ministers thus also found liberty, and acceptance, to study in theological schools — something unthinkable under our old dispensation. (We had been told that theological seminaries were “theological cemeteries – where they bury the truth.”) I enrolled in the Manila Theological College and, later, in the Asian Theological Seminary, from which I earned a graduate diploma in Biblical Studies.
However, as the years went by, I realized that the Worldwide Church of God (which has now been renamed Grace Communion International or GCI for short) was going farther and farther away from what it used to be. In many respects the church has now turned a full 180 degrees!
Its leaders have decided that the teachings which Mr. Armstrong left behind “cannot be fixed” and have to be “dismantled brick by brick” – “demolished.” They have written off Mr. Armstrong as a “false prophet” and a “heretic.” They have declared that the original WCG members had been “so blind” and “so theologically ignorant” as to have followed Mr. Armstrong.
In 2005 I retired from active pastoral ministry in this church. Before then I had come to seriously reconsider what the church (WCG/GCI) has been teaching in the last decade and a half, as well as what I have learned from seminaries. The more deeply I study the Bible, the more certainly I have decided to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
A time to act
In a word, I am impelled by the same thought as that of the psalmist who wrote: “It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void” (Psalm 119:126, NKJV). This goes for all human beings who have disregarded God’s law, thinking all of it – or some major part of it — is now completely obsolete and no longer binding on or applicable to Christians.
Our Lord Jesus Christ prophesied that in these last days “lawlessness [Greek, anomia] will abound” (Matthew 24:12), resulting in the love of many turning cold. The apostle Paul revealed that “the mystery of lawlessness” had already been at work in his time (2 Thessalonians 2:7). He called the leader of that mystery religion “the lawless one” who will be revealed in the last days and “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His [second] coming” (Verse 8).
I believe that it is vitally important for every person who wants to be right with God, to seriously consider the dire judgment by Jesus Christ, when He returns in glory to this earth, upon those who profess to believe in Him and even do great wonders in His name but do not obey God’s law: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [Greek, anomian]’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Satan, that arch-deceiver, has the whole world – not just a small segment of mankind — hoodwinked (Revelation 12:9), blinded to a real understanding of the numerous issues about God’s law and God’s purpose for mankind and all of creation.
You are invited!
I believe God has put it in my heart to clarify those issues – and more — for those who truly want to understand. As those before me urged, “Don’t believe what I say; rather believe what you find written in God’s Word,” so I urge all of you who visit this website to do likewise. But to those who desire to engage me in debate over these and related issues, I have to say up front that I may not have the time for this. However, I am open to constructive comments and suggestions.
I don’t claim – and never will claim – to know everything there is to know about faith and the Bible. There are many things that God has kept to Himself (Deuteronomy 29:29). As someone said, what knowledge about God and our universe we have is but a thimbleful compared with the vast ocean of God’s knowledge. (I believe it is more nearly accurate to say that the knowledge we have is only a tiny drop in comparison!) But, in His mercy and grace – and to fulfill His will – God does reveal some (if not much) of His secrets to “those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). And Proverbs 9:10 assures that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” As Daniel prayed, God “… gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things…” (Daniel 2:21-22; see also Verses 28, 30, and 47).
“The word of wisdom,” “the word of knowledge,” and “prophecy” are gifts which God, by His grace through His Spirit, gives as He wills and as it pleases Him, to those He chooses to send (1 Corinthians 12:8, 10, 18, 7; John 15:15-16).
Because God desires to open the Satan-blinded eyes of those He is calling to salvation in this age (Matthew 13:11, 16-17), He brings them to the ministry of those He has truly sent. That is why this website is named pool-of-siloam.com [see: About Pool of Siloam]. (“Siloam” is a Hebrew word which means “sent,” John 9:7.) By God’s grace, I trust that I am worthy of such ministry.
I do not claim to have the corner on the correct understanding of God’s Word. For this reason, I have the liberty to link visitors to this website on to the website and other resources of those who, in my opinion, have that similar understanding. My heart-felt thanks to them! If this website serves to resonate – and even amplify or set aright – what others have already written, may God be glorified!
Jesus said, in Matthew 7:15-20, that a ministry is known by its fruits. God’s Word is replete with warnings about false prophets and false preachers, especially in these our “end times.” Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 23-26; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1-3; and 1 John 4:1-3 are some scriptures that contain such warnings. Visitors to this website are well-served to heed these warnings, and follow the truth!
You are heartily invited to read, study, and — hopefully – believe what truth of God is upheld or expounded in my writings on this website. And, as I have experienced when I took up with the original WCG literature, may your visits here lead you to a transformed life as God wills for all mankind, and lead you in the way to everlasting life!
I am joined in this ministry by my wife of over 40 years, Pacífica “Paz” Meléndez (nee Ábalus-David) of the Province of Pampanga, in central Luzón. God has blessed us with three lovely daughters, now all grown up, who with their husbands have given us four [now six, as of 2015] grandchildren. Paz and I presently reside in the generally peaceful Municipality of Angono, Province of Rizal, just in the outskirts of Metropolitan Manila. Our plans are to reside also in the city of my birth, Malaybalay City in the Province of Bukidnón, in the future.
From this simple beginning of a few basic articles on this website, I hope to be able to write more articles and update previous ones, as necessary. So, keep visiting here and be on the lookout for new articles, which we will announce.
May God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, grant you “eyes to see and ears to hear” His Word of life!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.