VANCOUVER—Organizers are hoping a sought-after speaker in the Philippines will fill the pews when he comes to Vancouver Sept. 30.

Bo Sanchez, a popular author and lay speaker nicknamed the “Preacher in Blue Jeans,” will be the keynote speaker at Broadway Church, a venue that can accommodate up to 1,900 guests.

“We’re praying for a full house,” said organizer and St. Mary’s parishioner Edwin Cruz.

The event will be hosted by the Light of Jesus Family, a faith movement that Sanchez launched in the Philippines 37 years ago and has been active in a handful of local parishes including St. Mary’s since 2011.

“We call our prayer gatherings the ‘feast,’ primarily because we base it on Mark 2. Jesus was dining with the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes. He was loving them and meeting them where they are, and that is what we are geared towards,” said Cruz.

The Light of Jesus Family hosts a “feast” twice a month at St. Mary’s, with food, prayer, and teaching about Christian life. “There is nothing heavy: no doctrines or dogmas. We leave that to priests and Bible scholars. What we teach is practical Christian living: how to love God more, how to be a good father or mother, how to love your neighbours,” said Cruz.

The movement also hosts a massive four-day conference in Manilla every year. To imitate that event on a smaller scale, the Light of Jesus Family hosted its first such conference in Vancouver in 2015. About 1,400 people showed up.

Cruz anticipates this second conference in Vancouver will be an even bigger success.

“The theme is ‘Forward’ because we’d like to share that no matter what kind of situation you’re in, if you look to Jesus and make the decision to move forward, there is hope,” he said.

Members of other local faith communities with roots in the Philippines, including Bukas Loob Sa Diyos and Couples for Christ, are expected to attend. Men from Luke 15 House, a ministry to men with addictions, have been invited and Cruz said anyone is welcome.

“If you’re searching for something, we’ll probably be able to give you an opportunity to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you focus your eyes on Jesus.”

Sanchez will be joined on stage with Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver and event host Brother Pio Espano. More information and tickets are available here.