The heat was scorching. Such made the people in Luneta not only uncomfortable but also a bit difficult to breathe. It was not an exaggeration to say that each one who was there bumped into another every two seconds. The Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide's 40th Anniversary was jampacked!
Despite the heat and all sorts of discomfort, people were smiling. They were obviously joyful.
Everyone just wanted to be there, to be a part of history. After all, celebrating 40 glorious years of God's faithfulness is a milestone, historic event! And this year's thanksgiving was more than a celebration, it was a Grand Homecoming unlike any other!
The JIL people anticipated something glorious to happen, one they’d never seen before; something miraculous.
When the program started, people who didn't even know each other smiled and sang along, praising, and worshipping God together. It was a family atmosphere.
"Kulang kung wala sa Luneta"
Sis. Euphemia Redoble was along the sidewalk of Roxas Boulevard proudly wearing a blue JIL 40th Anniversary commemorative t-shirt and dancing with both her arms lifted up in praise.
She is a 76-year-old widow from JIL Navotas. It was her first time to attend a JIL celebration in Luneta. It was also her first time to be in such an amazingly huge event! Sis. Euphemia is a new member of the JIL and has been attending church for just a little over a month. She brought along her two grandsons, Ashley Jude and Marcos Henry, in Luneta.
Sis. Euphemia was attending another church in La Union before she was requested to move to Manila to take care of her two grandsons. But even then, she did not feel that she belonged there. “Maraming bawal! Hindi ka makasayaw, hindi pwedeng kumanta!” That was why she was very glad to have found JIL through Bro. Eddie Villanueva’s "Jesus The Healer" television program.
Today, being with JIL Navotas and being part of a life group, Sis. Euphemia says she is now at home. "Nakahanap na ako ng church na kung saan gusto ko na doon na ako pipirmi,” she said.
And one would think that a woman her age would prefer to just watch the event on television, in the comfort of her home. Plus she has asthma and has constant trouble breathing everyday. But in such a crowded Luneta, Sis Euphemia was filled with wonder and gratitude for a miracle: She did not feel any difficulty with breathing, she was A-ok that day! She said she felt good and was thankful that she did not have to take her medication.
When asked why she travelled all the way to Luneta, her answer was simple: “Kasama na yan sa pagsisilbi sa Panginoon. Kapag na-miss mo ang ibang gawain [gaya ng selebrasyon sa Luneta], parang kulang ka sa buhay. Pero uulitin ko pa rin yung program sa TV!”
Theo Jaire “TJ” Delagua is a 20-year-old college student and a youth leader in JIL Alberta, Canada. He has been away from the Philippines for almost 12 years. While here, he was a member of JIL Cubao.
He said that there were major adjustments transferring to a church overseas. He also explained that there are challenges serving the Lord in a foreign country. "Being young right now is hard, [most are] living in a double standard life. But as Christians, we have to be the light of the world wherever we go, to live out the values of the Church, and to be Christlike. Honestly, being around people of other nationalities is harder because we have language barriers, differences in how they were raised and how we were raised as Filipinos, and differences in standards like how we show respect to elders. Just be Christlike.”
Bro. TJ's journey to the #JILGrandHomecoming was not without its own challenges. He had to skip school and sacrificed a summer. But nothing could stop him from going to Luneta! Plans to be part of this glorious celebration started in February, to make sure he would be able to come. For TJ, coming home is to rediscover and be reminded of his roots, as a Filipino, and as a Christian. Coming home is to be reminded what a privilege it is to know and serve God in his generation, to be a legacy bearer.