Bro Eli Soriano’s feeding programs have nourished poor and starving communities in the Philippines, Africa, and South America.
Bro Eli Soriano began the concept of his feeding program as a local mission in the Church of God where he started as a young Church worker. Today, his feeding program in the Philippines and abroad have observers marveling for consistency and sincerity.
Bro. Eli’s already hospitable and humanitarian nature was reinforced by the good examples his parents have shown. The soon-to-be-minister witnessed how his parents busied themselves to accommodate even a stranger and offer him a meal, however, humble. The Soriano Family’s warm and welcoming home was always ready to serve their fellow Church members, relatives, neighbors, friends, even weary passers-by who may have wandered in their place asking for directions.
Bro Eli’s fellow Church workers do not leave their house with grumbling stomachs. Before departing for their missions after an overnight stay, they will be filled and refreshed with a breakfast of hot coffee, stir-fried rice, and either dried fish, smoked meat, or eggs. This is something customary for the Soriano family. In abundance or shortage, they cared for their house guests, the reason that made them well-loved and respected in their community.
The same virtue was continued even with Bro Eli’s parents passing. He carried on his parents’ practice, intensified and motivated by his faith and further learning of the Bible.
Feeding the Brethren and Guests
Now as the Overall Servant in the Members Church of God International (MCGI), Bro Eli still keeps his biblical virtue of doing good to all. Despite his active and on-the-go schedule preaching abroad, he is not remiss in his responsibility to support the many needs of the community residing in the MCGI’s headquarters in the Pampanga province. He continuously sends aid and checks for the food allocation of the foundlings, orphans, elderly, and volunteers residing in the Church’s orphanage and compound. He ensures that are well-fed with delicious and nutritious meals to keep them healthy, and given regular medical check-ups.
Bro Eli had been serving his fellow brethren in the Church with their needs, particularly the basics – food, shelter, and clothing – for 52 years. While he was still in the Philippines, he personally oversaw the preparation of food, and endured the searing heat of the kitchen to cook the meals they would distribute after. During charity missions, when Bro Eli had extra time to spare, he personally went to the place and quietly laid his hands on the ladle, spoon in hot soup in bowls, and hand each with a smile to every person waiting in line.
In the same context, many of Bro Eli’s well-attended Bible Expositions in the Philippines involved mass feeding, too. All guests are handed each with a packed rice meal to eat before they went home. This is Bro Eli’s way of showing his concern and gratitude, because he is aware that there are many in the crowd who travelled long to reach the Bible Exposition, and may have skipped their meal just to come on time.
He continued this practice even in abroad. At dawn before hosting a Bible Exposition later in the afternoon, Bro Eli is already inside his small kitchen along with his helpers – cutting up pounds of meat, peeling kilos of vegetables, and perspiring in front of the giant wok while stirring the bubbling emulsion of food being cooked. The food is not for sale. It is to be given gratis to all visitors in the Exposition, which reaches at least 500 in just one occasion.
Mass Feeding Programs
Alongside the broadening of Gospel propagation, the same opportunity came for the Church-based feeding program. Moved to tears by a television documentary of hapless, starving school children living in the slums of Manila, Bro Eli resolved to help their plight of hunger and malnutrition. He immediately sent a team of Church social workers and volunteers who worked in the soup kitchen that he funded. The children were fed with milk, vitamin-enriched bread, porridge, and rice-based meals. This feeding program, which was held in Baseco Compound and Payatas, was a blessing to the children who lived there. Baseco Compound and Payatas, both in Manila, are notoriously poor districts in the Philippines’ capital, and a large chunk of the residents there are bleeding in poverty, malnutrition, and lack of education.
In the first few days of the feeding program, the children showed great improvement in their health. The two communities were grateful for the assistance that Bro Eli provided, and this was to be the start of more feeding programs that followed.
Schools and day-care centers also benefitted from Bro Eli’s free feeding program. One notable effort was the 100-day feeding program in a community high school in Nueva Ecija, Luzon Island, from August 2013 to March 2014. The school officials and the local city government were delighted to see the good change in the health and academic performance of the students who were supplied with a regular nutritious diet. The same thing was observed in a day care center in Oriental Mindoro. The school children manifested great improvement in their state of health.
The La Verdad Christian College, a private educational institution Bro Eli founded, is a regular recipient of the feeding program. Scholars are provided with free and complete meals, aside from the other privileges they receive such as free books, school and P.E. uniforms, and matriculation.
The medical missions that Bro Eli supports are also a means to conduct the feeding program. Daily medical missions are carried out in the country, where a pool of MCGI-affiliated doctors, medical personnel, and volunteers travel long to bring medicine and food to areas rarely frequented by government support.
In 2014, after the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan left Tacloban, Philippines desolate and desperate for aid, Bro Eli had instructed to put up a relief camp to ration food, water, medicine, and other supplies for the victims. This went on until the survivors were relieved enough to build their houses and start new lives in the aftermath of the horrific storm.
Bro Eli Embraces Greater Opportunity to Feed the World
The hunger crisis is relative to poverty. It is felt stronger in economically-depressed regions in the world. Unfortunately, children are more prone to suffer food deprivation and eventually malnutrition brought about by lack of proper food. Year in and year out, hunger is one of the most relentless battles third world countries have to hurdle.
Bro Eli perfectly understands the feeling of getting starved, as he had experienced before how he and his comrades struggled to find food when they stayed in a remote place to preach. They scoured roadsides for fruit-bearing trees and edible plants, and rivers for clams and fish. With God’s help, they survived.
Now that he is abroad, Bro Eli has a better chance to reach out to those in need. He replicates the efforts he started in the Philippines, providing assistance especially to the indigent. Feeding programs were conducted in Africa and South America, where hundreds were refreshed with free, nutritious food. One was in Buduburam Camp in Ghana, Africa which was flocked with Liberian refugees eschewing the Ebola outbreak. This was repeated in a tent city in Port-au-Prince, Haiti wherein victims of the strong earthquake were rationed with food and other supplies. They were fed with food prepared from local supplies and staples, such as beans, grains, vegetables, and root-crops.
Elsewhere, in South America, two charity houses benefitted from the feeding program of Bro Eli. One was in Bogota, Colombia and the other in Guyaquil, Ecuador. Elderly citizens and their respective orphanage personnel were nourished with free meals prepared using local ingredients. Many orphanages receive little support from the government and they rely mostly on donations from private organizations, which is why they were grateful that help came from an unlikely source, in this case, from a Filipino name Bro Eli Soriano.
These feeding programs that had humble beginnings is now fast spreading and making a huge difference in the lives of its beneficiaries. It can be said that spreading goodwill and love to the world is a work done in faith by a God-fearing man – one bowl, one plate – at a time.