Jesus Explosion Mission team member Gregory Quan Kep reports on their time in Guyana.
Guyana’s first Jesus Explosion (JE) was held August 9–12. Most of the 33 missionaries left Trinidad on a very rainy August 5. They came from different parishes and prayer groups under the banner of the Jesus Explosion.
On our first day, we were welcomed by Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB at the Hotel Xenon. He explained that Guyana’s population was 750,000 and of that, seven per cent was Catholic.
We arrived at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam at 5 p.m. for Mass followed by a prayer meeting which was well attended. Atherley Nicolas led a vibrant praise and worship session and then there were powerful testimonies on the impact of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and drawing closer to Jesus. After the testimonies Fr Taylor preached on the first and second chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.
On Day 2 we visited the St Ann’s Girls Orphanage, Georgetown. The girl’s home is run by the Sisters of Charity. As we entered the compound we saw the positive and inspirational statements painted on the walls by the children. Some were scriptural like, “I can do all things with Christ.” One that caught my eye was, “No one can do what you can.”
We met 30 young girls there and took them outside in their playground to sing praise. Fr Taylor used the medium of drama to explain the Feast of Transfiguration. The actors comprised a mixture of the girls and some of our mission team. We ended with prayer and praise and our departure evoked tears on both sides.
We were quickly whisked to Our Lady of Mt Carmel RC Church where we had a praise session. Although there was an electrical outage we were not deterred. We sang, danced and praised our God. After half hour the electricity was restored and Fr Taylor preached on the conversion of Cornelius and family as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Then there was ministry with the Blessed Sacrament.
On Day 3 we went to the Sisters of Charity Headquarters. There we held a praise session with those coming to receive a meal from the soup kitchen, and assisted with the portioning and distribution of the food.
After this service we went to a convalescent home on the same compound. The session again comprised praise but the sharing of the Word came in the form of simple leading questions. This proved quite effective for the elderly residents.
Then we went to the St John Bosco Orphanage for boys where we praised and danced with the residents. Fr Taylor dramatised the story of David and Goliath. The boys got the message and were quite receptive. We were limited in time and so rushed off to the St Pius X RC Church for Mass followed by prayer meeting and testimonies.
Rigours of the trip
The toll of ministering and the rigours of the trip began to affect team members. Many began to get sick and were exhausted. A missionary life is not to be taken lightly at all!
On Day 4 we attended Mass at the Cathedral. Bishop Alleyne was the main celebrant. After Mass we lunched and were entertained at the Bishop’s residence. The serving of indigenous food was quite tasty: butter fish, pepper pot, dumplings and meta (provisions in a sauce resembling oil down).
That evening we went to the Marian Academy to set up for the JE. It is the only Catholic school established after the government nationalised all schools in 1976. It comprises nursery level straight to sixth form. It is private and students must pay to enrol.
The first day of the Jesus Explosion was well attended. Many young people from all over Guyana made herculean efforts to be there. Young people from the interior like Hosororo, Wauma, Mabaruma Township and Settlement, Kumaka, Hobodeia and Whitewater had to travel two days by boat.
Many of them stayed the week before in a camp and came to all of the sessions leading up to the JE. They had experienced the JE in Trinidad twice. Their zeal was amazing and they wanted more.
The Bishop opened the JE stating some worrying statistics. He informed the gathering that one out of every four Guyanese has mental health issues and the suicide rate is the highest per capita in the world. He urged the participants to be open and allow Jesus to lead.
Seeds being sown
The JE on Saturday was packed to capacity. Benches were put around the hall to accommodate any overflow. Bishop Alleyne and Frs Taylor, Cornelius Phillip, Neil Scantlebury and others concelebrated the opening Mass.
Fr Phillip, the homilist, spoke about sowing seeds. A seed was sown years ago by the Trinidad JE team to follow the Holy Spirit. Two young girls attending the JE Trinidad were so touched that they implored their Bishop to grant permission for JE Guyana. Seeds are being sown here and who knows where it will go.
The theme of the JE was taken from Mark 1:15 ‘Repent and believe the gospel’.The Holy Spirit made some alterations to the programme. The first instance was during the repentance talk and a young person testified that she was deep in sin and exhorted the listeners to repent. Fr Taylor was moved to stop the next scheduled talk and urge everyone to go for confession.
The second instance was before the talk on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We worshipped and praised God and many were slain in the Spirit.
The Ministry with the Blessed Sacrament was indeed the highlight of the entire weekend. Many were delivered, healed and made whole.
On the final day the workshops gave much needed instruction and interaction. There was a talk by Fr Taylor followed by testimonies. The Bishop was the main celebrant and homilist at the closing Mass. He was elated. He described the mixture of the old and new practices seen at the JE.
He exhorted the participants to take what they have learned and experienced back to their communities. He said, “Are you ready to transform Guyana? Guyana is poised for an oil boom, but what we need is the oil of Baptism. Let this be the platform for the evangelisation”. The bishop then asked two seminarians to address the gathering. Both asked the Bishop for another Jesus Explosion soon. The Bishop agreed.