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T HE ministry of Bo Sanchez started in 1978 when his parents, Eugenio Sr. and Pilar, attended their first prayer meeting held by the Upper Room Prayer Group in Project 7, Quezon City.
The Sanchezes attended the prayer meetings regularly, bringing along their children. In one of those meetings, a leader of the Upper Room, looking at the Sanchez’s youngest son Bo, then only 12 years old, prophesied that the boy would be speaking to thousands about God. After 18 months, the Sanchezes decided to organize their own prayer group, named the Light of Jesus, and held their first prayer meeting at the garage of their home at 56 Chicago Street, Cubao, Quezon City, on September 9, 1980 with Bo’s father leading the meeting.
The following week, the second day of the prayer meeting, Bo, then 14 years old, led the prayer meeting for the first time. The following year, 30 regular attendees of the prayer meetings formed the Core Family of what is now known as the Light of Jesus Community which now counts some 3,000 committed members and hundreds more around the world.
Now 46 years old, Bo Sanchez is the author of 27 bestselling books and publisher of seven magazines published by Shepherd’s Voice Publications Inc, which he founded. Bo also established the Shepherd’s Voice Radio and Television Foudation which produces his weekly television show, Kerygma TV, on RPN 9 Sundays, 6 am and at ANC Sundays, 7 am; his daily Radio program on Radio Veritas from Monday to Saturday at 5 am and Sundays at 8 am; and posts his daily Internet reality show on www.preacherinbluejeans.com.
Bo is also an international speaker, travelling extensively around the world. So far, he has spoken in 14 countries, including 38 cities in North America.
He founded the Feast, a weekly prayer gathering with Holy Mass, lively worship, and powerful talks on practical Christian living held at the Philippine International Convention Center every Sunday. It has over 30 branches throughout the country, and 27 more in different parts of the world.
Bo’s Mercy Missions serves the poorest of the poor, from “womb to tomb.” He has initiated partnerships with Grace To Be Born, a shelter for women in crisis and their babies; Tahanan ng Pagmamahal, an orphanage; He Cares, a home for street children; Pag-asa ng Pamilya, a scholarship program for out-of-school youth. He has also partnered with Gawad Kalinga.
He founded Anawim, which takes care of abandoned elderly, providing them daily sustenance, spiritual care, medical care, and when they die, burial services.
He also founded the Light of Jesus Counselling Center which provides one-on-one as well as 24-hour telephone counselling to the downtrodden.
Bo was named one of The Outstanding Young Men or TOYM for 2006. In 2007, he received the Serviam Award given by the Catholic Mass Media Awards. This is the highest award given to a lay for outstanding service to God.
He also formed the Kerygma Family—a borderless, international, non-physical community. All over the world, people are signing up as members of this virtual community—where they receive daily teachings for their spiritual and personal growth.
In another endeavor he’s very passionate about, Bo started the Catholic Filipino Academy to help parents who want to teach their children at home.
Privately, Bo is also a micro-entrepreneur. He engages in small businesses and real estate not only for his family’s needs and for his various projects, but also from his firm belief that one of the most important solutions to the country’s economic problems is to raise up more micro-entrepreneurs. He frequently teaches and writes about financial literacy, believing that our poverty is hugely a product of people’s low financial I.Q. on subjects such as debt-management, saving, investing, and business.
But above all these, Bo believes that his first call is to be a loving husband to his wife Marowe and a devoted father to his sons Benedict and Francis.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Bo answers questions about his latest advocacy on financial literacy for Filipinos.
The Manila Times (TMT): Bo, you are a Catholic lay preacher, talking about religious matters. What is this financial literacy you are now advocating?
Bo Sanchez (BS): My advocacy on financial literacy is inspired by Deuteronomy 28:12: The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
Clearly, God is saying we will work and He will bless the work of our hands. God doesn’t want us to borrow. As I say in my talks, the Bible says, the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Instead of borrowing, God wants us to lend. My other word for lender is investor. So my advocacy is to teach our people how to be good investors of the blessings God is giving them.
TMT: But why talk about money? Don’t preachers tell us money is the root of all evil?
BS: The Biblical passage says not money. The accurate phrase is the love of money. That means being materialistic is the root of all evil. I am not preaching about materialism.
So why do we talk about money? Again, as I say in my talks, because we want every area of our life—even our finances—to be placed under the Lordship of Jesus. We don’t want money to be our master. We want to be the master of our money—and turn it over to God’s purpose.
There are some Christians who don’t want to talk about money, so they run away from it. But when they do, their master becomes the lack of money.
That’s not want we want to do. We want to learn how money works so that we can use more of it to serve God.
TMT: How do you combine money and ministry?
BS: Let me tell you a special ministry that’s very close to my heart—because we started it some years ago: Anawim. I got the name from the Hebrew word anawim which means God’s poor— is our home for the abandoned elderly—poor, old people we pick up from the streets.
Throughout the years, hundreds of old people have been housed and fed and loved in our special home. After a few years of staying with us, they go home to God. Anawim is like a special departure airport to Heaven. Without Anawim, they would be dying on the streets.
But here’s a surprising fact: They weren’t always poor.
At one point in their life, all of them were earning good money. If you talk to them, you discover that some lolas and lolos were professionals— government employees, teachers, one was the principal of a school, another, a dentist. Some were maids and laundry women—but they sent money each month to their nephews and nieces back home— who abandoned them in their old age!
So one day, without food, clothes and shelter, they wandered on the streets where we picked
I don’t want that to happen to people I am preaching to. So I am teaching them how to earn income and build their wealth—just as how I learned the techniques.
TMT: Preachers tell us God will provide. Hasn’t God provided for you, especially because you work for Him?
BS: Oh, yes, I’ve been very blessed. But again, look at Deuteronomy. It says God will bless the work of our hands. We cannot just sit down and wait for God’s provisions. We must work and God will bless our work.
I must admit that early in my Ministry, I thought I was going to be poor—you know, just have one shirt and a pair of pants, a pair of old sandals, never take a bath, don’t use soap, shampoo, or deodorant.
When I prayed over people, they fell flat on the ground, and I thought the Holy Spirit had engulfed them. Then I realized, they fainted because of my smell!
Okay, I am exaggerating.
Seriously now, let me tell you of an incident that triggered my financial advocacy. One time, after one of my talks, a woman approached me, asking for money which she needed to buy medicine. My heart went out to her but I had no money to give to her.
Many other persons had come to the Light of Jesus Family asking for financial help, and we had nothing to give them because LOJ itself needed financial help!
So there I was, the leader of the Family, and I couldn’t bear getting the little that we got from the love offerings for my own sustenance, especially so when I got married and began to have children.
I did not want LOJ to take care of me and my family. I wanted to take care of LOJ.
So I consulted financial experts to learn how to earn money and make it grow. And I’ve been blessed to find people who think the way I do: that we should make use of money—for our daily sustenance, yes—and then we should have extra so we can do God’s work.
I’ve coined a phrase for it: Truly Rich. It’s not bad to be rich if you are truly rich—for God and His people.
TMT: How successful have you been in your advocacy?
BS: Now, I am financially stable, but my family and I live a simple life, so we can use our wealth for our Ministry.
There are a number of persons who have done the same. My maids invest in the stock market and now have savings. A number of LOJ members and attendees of our Feasts have become entrepreneurs and are investing their profits to grow their wealth—and they tithe, contributing to LOJ so we can sustain our Ministry.
My dream is for every Filipino to become an entrepreneur so that we will all be truly rich and God’s dream in Deuteronomy will be fulfilled for the Philippines—“You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
TMT: What about your prayer community? Is it stable now?
BS: We’re doing okay. We have over 30 branches of the Feast, our weekly prayer gathering. And we can afford now to support homes for the poor.
But as I said in my recent talks, my dream is to have a billion pesos to give as a trust fund for the Light of Jesus. That trust fund will outlast me. It will be there even after I die. The trust fund, the principal amount won’t be touched—just the interest. But the interest alone, at a mere 4 percent a year (invested in treasury bills) will give the Light of Jesus Family P40 million a year—and every year thereafter—if the trust fund reaches one billion.
I believe that dream will come true.
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