Many years ago, a fourteen-year-old boy was the first to talk at the first ever meeting of Light of Jesus. Now, decades after, Bo Sanchez leads this Catholic community which has thousands of people participating, not only in the Philippines, but in the whole world.
PUBLISHED ONJan 2018
Every Sunday, Bo Sanchez preaches the Word of God in one of the biggest venues in the country, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). He has written many books that are on the best seller list, which includes Life Manual 101 (How to Make Your Dreams Come True) and My Maid Invests in the Stock Market...and Why You Should, Too!.
One could not be amazed how this preacher slowly reaches out to the people around him. Yet, the most astounding fact about him is that he started out when he was just a teenager.
It was in Quezon City, on September 9, 1980 when the first Light of Jesus meeting was held. “Most of our first attendees were relatives, neighbors, and friends of my parents and my sisters. I am the youngest in the family, so everybody was older than me.” Bo Sanchez recalls.
A certain Sis. Aida, who served as one of the leaders of the group said that she could “hear” God and that He had given her a message that a man would lead the young group. Says Bo, “naturally, my mother thought he would be my father Gene – because he was really our leader. But Sis. Aida said the ‘message’ was that I would be the one preaching. So that has been my role – speaking God’s Word.”
With that, Bo took center stage. He shared that, “it was awkward at first. I spoke and to my amazement, people listened.”
He talked about the powerful words that shook him and pierced his heart that God gave us His Son, Jesus. “What inspired our spiritual awakening was the message about God’s unconditional love for us. You know, John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” he said. “That’s how much He loves me. So, I spoke about God’s love. I still do, to this day.”
Sanchez commented, “I must say, as I’ve always said, it was never me – to this day, it’s been the Holy Spirit who leads me and empowers me to say what I must say to His people.”
From that first prayer meeting, teenager Bo started preaching with the support of his parents. His father was a former executive in one of the country’s biggest conglomerate, San Miguel Corporation. “Tell me, how could such a man who had professionals at his beck and call, follow the lead of a 14-year-old, who is the youngest in the family?” he asked.
“This corporate executive would arrange chairs, clean the blackboards before attendees arrived at our prayer meetings,” relates Bo.
As for his mother, Bo revealed that she “served almost like my executive secretary, keeping track of my speaking engagements. And she had this diary where she recorded every step we took as we were building our community – jotting down place, date, and time of each of our major activities. She carried a humongous tape recorder to record my talks and other messages spoken during our prayer meetings.”
Having started from scratch, Bo shared that the resources somehow started pouring in. “Soon, people were giving love offerings or tithes – or both – or we’d find venues and suppliers who gave us what we needed for a song. Not to mention, volunteers – from minimum-wage laborers to professionals receiving huge salaries sharing their expertise to us for free.”
Learning From Others
Sanchez also sought out advice from different Christian preachers, whether they be Catholic priests and non-Catholic pastors. He revealed, “early on, I interviewed preachers whose community or church has a huge following. I asked them how they do things, and they were kind enough to teach me. We study, we attend seminars, conferences, even non-Catholic faith gatherings to keep abreast of the latest processes in sustaining faith communities – and apply what we learn from them to our community, of course, without deviating from our core doctrines or principles.”
He shared, “by God’s grace, we grew in number. So, from our garage, we had to transfer the prayer meeting I led every Sunday from one bigger venue to another.”
It was on the third of August 1997 in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, when the first Feast was held. It was as Sanchez calls it, their first real “big” prayer meeting. “I called this meeting The Feast,” Bo said. “It was because here we celebrated the Feast of Feasts, the Holy Mass, followed by a worship session, and my talk based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
From there, the Light of Jesus family branched out and established its Media Ministry, starting with a monthly magazine called Kerygma. Slowly the group grew as it also began the Shepherd’s Voice Publications (SVP), the Shepherd’s Voice Radio and Television Foundation (SVRTV) and its online media ministry.
One of their initial publications was Bo’s first book, When My Brook Runs Dry, which he wrote when he was just 20 years old. He admitted, “I squirm when I read that book now. But people who read that book told me how blessed they were. So, I kept writing more books.”
However, not everybody raved about Why My Brook Runs Dry, as a priest one day came up to Bo and asked him “Brother Bo, when will you finally write the real Word of God?”
With that comment, he somehow felt discouraged as the priest wanted a different tone from him. He was torn. A part of him was urging him to stop writing as he was only doing it to entertain people. However, there was another part of him that forced him to continue what he loved to do.
“My faith was telling me, don’t stop. God has called you to write in a particular way!” Bo said. With enough courage, he continued to write with a tone that is simple, funny, and straight to the point. He explained, “The intention of my first book must be just as the intention of the rest of my writings – to present God in a particular way that He will be known and appreciated.”
From print, the Light of Jesus tried on other media such as broadcasting. They formed the Shepherd’s Voice Radio and Television Foundation (SVRTV), which in time established the online media ministry.
“We have a dynamic Media Ministry enabling us to connect with just about everybody here and abroad,” Bo said. “Aside from our magazines and our books, we have television and radio as well as online programs. You can ask me anything through my Facebook page.”
Seven days a week, Bo, together with those who support him and the Light of Jesus members, work hard to attain a certain greatness. “Even as we do our best, we fail a lot of times.” Bo mentioned. “We do. But we are still here, and we are, as you say, continuously growing, believe it or not, only by God’s grace. I believe God called us to this mission. And He is the one seeing us through our foibles and failures.”
Now, the Light of Jesus has established various prayer and media groups. There are over 200 Feasts throughout the Philippines and in some other countries. The Feast is fast growing as it also started The Feast Video – where attendees watch a video of the live Feasts, then discuss the talks and have worship sessions, too.
The success of the Light of Jesus, the Feast, and Kerygma only show that Bo has been blessed as he is one of those who is not afraid to take a leap of faith. Bo Sanchez shares that his vision is to "make" one million disciples all over the world, and he is nearing that.