Macho for the Lord

By TOMMY LARA

AS you can see on the photo at right, that’s me leading a prayer meeting as Builder of Feast Sydney.

I’ve come this far from my first service in the Light of Jesus Family as a Macho.

MACHO.
Noun: a man who is aggressively proud of his masculinity.

Adjective: showing aggressive pride in one’s masculinity.

That’s the definition of the word that you’ll find on Google. I am big and masculine. And I am macho – but not as in the Google definition.

Yes, I started in the Light of Jesus Family as a macho. That is, as head of the Macho Ministry. In the infant days of LOJ, we held Life in the Spirit Seminars (LSS)—the first step in learning about committing to accept Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, and being His disciple.

The Macho Ministry was in charge of going to the venue where we would run the LSS and check if the place was suitable for a gathering. We checked if there’s a kitchen where we could prepare snacks, if there’s a clean toilet, and enough chairs for the participants. So, days before the LSS, I would go visit the venue
and check it out.

Then on the day of the LSS, together with other members of the Macho Ministry, I would go to the venue and set up the chairs and the sound system. And
at the end of the LSS we would pack everything up.

If ever we were aggressively proud of our masculinity, it’s in the sense that we were used as instruments in sharing Jesus with as many as we could.

This passion to make disciples for Jesus stemmed from an intense spiritual awakening when I joined LOJ in 1980.

I was then working at the National Computer Center as a Computer Systems engineer. There, I met Caridad, or Epay to everyone, who was a Systems analyst, through her then boyfriend.

One Tuesday, Epay invited me and other officemates like May Ulanday, to the LOJ prayer meeting in Cubao. And impressed, we attended the prayer
meeting regularly.

At the end of one prayer meeting, Bro. Bo announced that he was forming a team that would conduct Life in the Spirit Seminars in various places in Metro
Manila — wherever we would be invited to.

Bro. Bo asked for people who wanted to join the team to attend a meeting that same evening after the prayer meeting.

Epay, May, Vic Balenton, and I joined that team. We met every Sunday for training-formation before we ran our first LSS. During the training, we were asked
to choose a ministry where we would like to serve. I chose the Macho Ministry and became its head. At the end of our training, which went for a few months, we
attended a retreat at Maryhills, Antipolo, where we made a commitment to serve for one year and continue our formation every Sunday.

We then ran our first LSS in Alabang and later in other locations around Metro Manila.

After one year of running LSS and being formed as disciples every Sunday, we had another retreat where Bro. Bo invited us to be members of a faith
community he was forming. We made a commitment, and our group became the pioneer members called the Core Family of LOJ.

We aggressively held Life in the Spirit Seminars. Simultaneous with the Cubao prayer meeting, there was also a prayer meeting in Caloocan every Sunday also led by Bro Bo. So, aside from the Core Family, in 1984, we formed the new members into another group we called the Love Family. After three years, I took on the leadership from Bro. Bo. As head of Love, I also eventually became part of LOJ’s Council of Elders.

In time, Epay and I fell in love, got married, and happily continued serving the Lord together. She ably assisted me as I led prayer meetings
in Alabang, Solid Bank Binondo, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Filinvest Village in Quezon City.

And just as LOJ kept on growing, so did our family. Today, we are extremely happy with five children, seated from left: Rebecca, 4th child;
Francis, 2nd; Angelo, 1st; standing, from left: Christina, 5th; me; Epay; and Monica, 3rd child. Angelo is now 31 years old; Francis, 30; Monica, 28; Rebecca, 26; and Christina, 24.

Earlier, we found work in Australia so we migrated in January 1988. Little did we know we were brought here by the Lord not only for career advancement and financial gain, but also to continue making disciples for Him.

Soon, Bro. Hermie Morelos, overseer of LOJ’s Feast Oceania Region, assigned me as Builder of Feast Sydney. It’s such a great blessing for Epay and me as this Ministry gave us an opportunity to meet more Filipinos in Australia.

Here is our merry group celebrating Christmas pre-COVID 19.

And this mission is a big challenge too, especially in these dire days of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

We could not have a live Feast for over a month as Sydney was locked down. As with other Feasts, we went online, live-streaming what we call The Feast at Home.

Today, we are already allowed to gather for a live Feast but we have to limit our participants to only 34 (above). So, we continue online live-streaming The Feast at Home every Friday for those who could not come to the live Feast.

It’s not easy, but we remain undaunted. Exactly 40 years ago, LOJ started with a Core Family of 30 persons. Today, we have gone this far – from Manila to Sydney. I have gone this far– from a Macho to a Builder.

What else can God do?

Nothing less than His promise in Jeremiah 29:19: For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

#LOJat40

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