"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)" the announcer shouted at the top of her voice to start the event addressing the crowd at the Quimonda IT Park which is as big as a football field. It was quite hot (actually, very hot) at 1:00 p.m. The festival started with a corporate praise and worship. "Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!" the worship leader quoted Psalm 147. "Our God reigns! Jesus reigns over Cebu, the Visayas, over the Philippines, and over all the earth!" she shouted. The congregation joined her passion with songs of proclamation to the lordship of Christ. "Let us claim Cebu back to the Lord!" she incited.
A red helicopter with a yellow "Jesus-Reigns-crown-design" flew in the air. A flock of birds soared above in unison. Their noise harmonized the flying engine. The crowd then proceeded to the next agenda: the Jesus march! Carrying banners of the titles of Jesus, marchers who came all the way to the place of assembly in the North Reclamation Area of Cebu were organized as contingents of the 53 towns and cities walking an almost four-kilometer route. Young and old, even parents with small children, joined the prayer march. Some sang along praise and worship songs. Others exchanged chitchats amid the long journey. All had smiles under the extreme heat of the sun. "Jesus reigns! Jesus reigns!" a cluster of youth chanted. Praise God, the church survived the more than one-hour afternoon procession! Back to Quimonda, as hunger, thirst, and sore legs resulted, a rest period was given. People ate snacks, but most became busy with picture-taking. Who can resist taking remembrance of the grand float with a large green crown and yellow "Jesus Reigns" words? It easily became the star of the photo shoots. Pastors then commanded the crowd to bend their knees and lift their heads. It was time for intercession to the Great I Am. "Out of this city, we ask You to raise up missionaries who will declare Your light to this dark world," a pastor prayed. "Empower us to stand in the gap on behalf of our land," the intercessors cried. After all the towns and cities were represented in intercessory prayers, the announcer then told the group to have their dinner break and return by 7:00 pm. The nearest mall became packed with the children of God. The other flocks stayed in the vicinity where booths of foods arrayed. At exactly 7:00 pm the show started. It was different from what you see on TV. It was made not to entertain the people, but to honor and worship King Jesus. After corporate singing of the Philippine National Anthem, the female vocalists of the Paglaum band sang Cebuano worship songs. Their fairy-like attires of red, blue and yellow matched our country's flag. Their joyful faces blended the beauty of their voices. The crowd worshipped not the performers on stage. Everyone raised their hearts in praise to Jehovah. Myriad Cebuano talents followed. A man mimed skilfully (better than Michael-Jackson-moves, I believe), a group of men dramatized the passion of Christ, a cluster of youth danced in cheerful reggae, and a choir of young people sang such pleasant melodies. "I never thought I have these brothers and sisters in Cebu," I mused. For all I know, they are the strangers I meet in my daily jeepney rides! "Lord, You have blessed our city with many worshippers. I praise You that I am a Cebuano!" my heart cried out to my Maker. But what made me cry literally is the wife of the ex-lead vocalist of Paglaum band. Her husband died a year ago. Now, she sang the Cebuano worship song her partner composed. With utmost courage, she shared their story. She told the audience that her husband was invited to work abroad for bigger income. He was greatly tempted. Yet, his love for ministry in the Philippines prevailed (I'm crying again upon writing this). He chose to serve in his country. The wife said that she learned that it is only God who satisfies our restlessness. Money is not the answer to unhappiness. Rather, it is having a close relationship with Jesus. She challenged the listeners to follow the passion of her beloved.
There is also a young man who shared the testimony of his faith. Without shame, he confessed that he was once a drug pusher for two years before he knew the Lord. He sang a song that spurred the crowd to let God cleanse their sins. I felt so overwhelmed by the goodness of God in our city! But there were still more. After the challenge to surrender our lives to God's control, a gust of fireworks soared up in the air. Maybe, this was the celebration of the lost sheep returning to the Shepherd of our souls! Grand and colourful lights adorned the dark sky. Shooting blasts became music to the ears. Extremely unique were the fireworks forming big words. They were descriptions about Jesus: Redeemer, Protector, Savior, Love, Miraculous, Lord of Lords. The lights quickly disappear for every word that is highlighted. I did my best to take a shot of each scene. The program ended with a 500-member choir singing "God of this City". Everyone stood up with open hearts. All hungered for justice, peace and God's Spirit to move in Cebu. It was one-of-a-kind scene! The huge choir wearing white Jesus Reigns t-shirts and the congregation wearing the same white shirts raised up their hands toward the heaven. The projector screen in front showed the video-faces of the crowd. The group of white-shirted people looked like angels praising God! Their silhouette moved gracefully. They seemed to be enriched with a golden light. I felt like I was in heaven worshipping God with the thousands upon thousands. Yet, I was in Cebu City.
Reign, reign Lord Jesus! Cebu is for Christ! The Philippines is for Christ!