Dr. Israel Kristilere, host of the annual Just Worship (JW) service has described the yearly night of pure worship as an atmosphere of experiencing God’s presence through just worship of the Lord. Ahead of this year 2020 Just Worship (JW) next month November 20th, 2020, Dr. Kristilere shares with Christian Benefits in the below interview the vision, the mandate and the impact of the yearly Just Worship event that gathers not less than 5,000 worshipers in one single night to reverence God. Excerpts.
Please, share with us the vision of Just Worship (JW) annual gathering?
The vision of the gathering of believers for pure worship was birthed in 2008. The inspiration came when I was in Malaysia for a ministerial training. The vision was so clear that I could not denial that God spoke to me to put together a 7-hour night service where Christians of all denominations will gather not for prayers or sermons, but for worship. That informed the tag Just Worship (JW) to define the vision. Though I had no doubt that God was inspiring me to organize the session, I must confess that I brushed up the vision for years. I was overwhelmed by the financial implication of holding such a massive session. But in July 2012 God reminded me of the vision again. I was away in the United Kingdom on two weeks vacation when God spoke through a friend of mine, Rev. Bukky Oyewale, Pastor of Pentecost Baptist Church Liverpool. It came through a word of knowledge as he said openly that he saw me gathering believers of all folks together and they were worshiping God. At that time I could no longer dillydally. I decided to pursue the vision no matter what it would cost. And from that day God has been glorifying himself annually as thousands of people gather to worship the Almighty God.
When did the event start, and how will you describe its impact since then?
The first edition of Just Worship took place in 2012. Like I said the vision came in 2008, but I was scared of starting it because of the financial implication. But when the word of knowledge came four years after, while I was in the U.K, I decided to pursue it. When I asked my music director to put together what the financial cost could be at that time it came to about N4m. I wondered how I could raise N4m to put that kind of event together. But I trusted the Lord. When I was asking the Lord how I would go about it he reminded me I had some money with me, about N1.2m with which I wanted to roof my house. I was waiting to get additional N300,000 to make it N3.5m to roof the house. And the Lord told me to use that money to start (the vision); that he would raise his children to join me in fulfilling the mandate. I obeyed and started spending the money and God raised people to join me. And to the glory of God the first edition of Just Worship took place on November 23, 2012 and it was wonderful. To the glory of God it’s been powerful since that time. We have had several other editions of Just Worship. This year 2020 edition is the 9th. Each of the editions comes with a specific theme.
What are the main features of this annual event?
As I said each of the editions has a specific theme and gospel artistes who are gifted in the area of each theme are invited by the leading of the Holy Spirit to lead God’s people in worship so that we can achieve the purpose of the night of worship. The theme JW 2012 was Awesome God and indeed it was awesome as testimonies increased on the lips of over 3,500 people that worshiped that night. On November 22, 2013 over 4,300 gathered and the theme was Glorious God. On November 21, 2014 over 5,000 worshippers gathered under the theme Majesty. The theme for JW 2015 was No Higher Calling, which simply implies that there is no higher calling giving to us than to worship God. At JW 2016 held on November 18, 2016 about 5,500 worshippers gathered at the feet of Jehovah under the theme Miraculous. On November 17, 2017 the theme was Victorious and we had over 6,000 people gathered. At that time our 5,000 capacity sitting auditorium could no longer contain the number of worshippers. Many started sitting outside. No doubt the ministry has gathered more momentum over the years. This was the reason JW 2017 was the first edition we held on an open field on November 23, 2018. The theme was Wonderful. Over 7,000 worshippers gathered to worship the Lord. In JW 2019 we had several thousands of people gathered. It was the second time we held Just Worship on open field and we had over 10,000 believers came to worship the Lord. God gives us a theme each year and we follow that theme through. The main focus of the annual event is just to worship. We gather together singing, worshiping and praising God. It is not like the usual praising. The worshippers at Just Worship come with the heart of gratitude to God, and high expectations of divine visitation. And God has constantly proven himself strong among his people.
How do you select the gospel singers that feature at the event annually?
Like I said earlier the gospel singers that sing at Just Worship are selected based on divine leadership. I must make this clear that it is not every gospel artist that can sing at Just worship. Gospel artistes who sing at Just Worship are those who are proven worshippers; artistes who can bring down the presence of God, not entertainers. They are gospel artistes who can sing and use music to bring down the presence of God because the key of the night is experiencing God’s presence through just worship. I actually call it pure soaking in the Holy Spirit where God’s presence will come down and everyone will know we are under God’s power. So, we are divinely led in choosing the gospel artistes that sing at Just Worship. After praying we talk to them and we go on to work together for the glory of the Lord.
Who are the gospel singers that have featured at the event over the years?
To the glory of God we have had so many gospel singers that have been privileged to minister at Just Worship. Some of them are Chuks Chidumbe, who sang “This kind God,” Lara George, Evang. Dupe Olulana, Pastor Phil & Lola Adika of Praise “N” Joy, Bro. Michael Fashina Erujeje, Steve Crown, Sammy Okposo, Olumide Shobowale, Gloria Ibrahim, Frank Edward, Nathaniel Bassey, Omotola sax, Onos Ariyo, Gloria Unorin, Wale Ayeni, Sam Diji, Bunmi Akinola, The Levites, Faith Holiday, Indian Christian Congregation, Pastor Gbenga Akande, Dare Adeyemi, Benita Okoji, The proclaimers, Sax Angel, The Generation of David, Funmi Sax, Tunde Sax, Olu Joshua, the Shepherd’s Voice Int’l, Lagos State Baptist Students Fellowship (BSF) Choir, Yabatech BSF Choir, Demilade Adepegba, Yomi Folasele, Yinka Vitula, Heritage Kristilere, Yomi Folasile, Aity Dennis, The Crusaders, The Maker’s Praise Foundation, Baptist Mission School Choir, Jide Akande, Olufunke Akinsete, Zion Grace, The Praise Family, Bola Oladeinde, Bola Dada and many more. All these are the gospel ministers or singing groups that have been privileged to minister at Just Worship. And to the glory of God with the vision God gave to me every year I personally lead worship. When I first started two out of the seven hours I’m on the rostrum leading the congregation in worship. And it’s been tremendous. In such moment healing, miracles and wonders happen and people testify. Even without praying; just worshiping God people have been healed. People have been delivered from their yokes. Deliverance takes place. Practically you see demonic forces manifesting, people falling under anointing; under the power of the Holy Ghost even in the moment of worship.
How did you arrive at the program title, Just Worship (JW)
Just as I said earlier it was a vision God gave to me. And the vision was to gather believers together just for worship; not prayer. And over the years I don’t preach sermon at the event. No prayers. We just worship God; everyone losing themselves in God’s presence and they experience him. I have discovered that if you want the best from God worship him. Actually, the title came from the Message version of Psalm 34:9 that says, “Worship God if you want the best. Worship opens door to all his goodness. Many of us think prayer, fasting and so on open door. I agree they do, but the Bible says worship opens door to all of God’s goodness. So, we encounter God through worship and miracles happen beyond measure.
What exactly is worship, and how is it different from praise?
In the context of Just Worship, worship is that aspect of communicating or linking up with God directly from your heart; allowing your spirit, soul and body reaching out to the heavens to draw on the power of God, transforming your life and making a whole lot of difference in your circumstances and situations. Sincerely speaking there may be little difference between praise and worship. But in this context these are songs that are carefully chosen in such a way that they draw us. They are not songs of gymnasium. They are not songs you are jumping around. They are songs you sing and you may be on the same spot concentrating on the Almighty. Your intellect, mind and spirit are connecting to the Almighty so that you can receive from him. And that is what makes the difference between Just worship and music concerts. Just worship is not a music concert. It is not to entertain people. It is not a service to make people feel good. It is a service to make people encounter the Almighty. And that is the difference between Just Worship and music concerts that you see around. It is a unique experience whereby we are revived even as we sing. Most of the time we assume it is only when we pray or fast that we can experience miracles or that we can connect with the Almighty. But I have realized that in the atmosphere of worship miracles happen. When God gave me this vision while I was in Malaysia in 2008 I was under worship; just connecting with the Almighty when I suddenly felt down. I didn’t know when I burst into tears. I could not even understand where I was. I thought I was already in heaven until I later realized I was still In Kuala lupur, Malaysia. From there God said go back and give my people this experience that they may encounter me in the atmosphere of worship.
What is the significance of worship in a church and in the lives of believers?
Worship is very significant because we are actually created to worship God and adore him. Worship is what connects us to the Almighty. Worship should take an integral part in any church. Worship is what we give back to God. Prayer is an attempt to take from God. Fasting is an attempt to receive from God. But worship is an attempt to give back to God what is due to him. Sincerely speaking when we do that, we cannot but get something wonderful from God. When you are a worshiper the best things will come your way because God is delighted and happy when we worship him in spirit and in truth as is spoken in the scripture. In the life of believers it is believed that worship should change us. Worship that will not change us is a waste of time. You can’t encounter God genuinely and remain the same. So, worship is an encounter with the living God. If each believer genuinely encounters it should cleanse us, make us whole, better and give us strength to do the will of God Almighty in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. So, worship is a game changer in the church and in the life of every genuine believer.
What is your impression of the place of worship in most churches today?
The place of worship has been part of our system of worship since inception. Actually, God himself approved the building of tabernacles, synagogues and temples from where churches are derived and called places of worship. The place of worship is a place that is dedicated to the Almighty with the sole purpose of worshiping him. I always tell my members that what makes our church auditorium different from the national arts theatre or any other mega buildings is because we have dedicated our auditorium to the worship of the almighty. A place of worship should be a place of sanctity; a place that is sacred, a place where Christ is honored; a place where everyone allows Christ to rule and reign among us. That is the only way we can actually bring the presence of God down. In the place of worship purity must be the key word. In the place of worship prayer must be upheld. In the place of worship unity is important. And if all these are combined together power will follow and demon and satanic forces will bow.
Some may argue that worship has lost its place in most churches today. How can worship and its glory be returned to those churches that have lost worship in their assemblies?
It is true that some churches have become more of entertainment assemblies. The goal is just to make people feel fine and not to connect with the Almighty. In true worship God is the focus, not man. The one we want to please is God. The one we want to enjoy our worship is God and not us. If the focus is on us and not on God then we have lost our place. A place of worship whereby people gather several days but their lives are not changed is a sign that that place of worship has lost its importance. It should be a panel beating place where God encounters us and changes us inside out, and that change is visible to those who see us. The only way is that such churches must go back to the heart of worship like a singer sang “I’m coming back to the heart of worship.”It is time to return to the heart of worship; focusing on God, making him the focus of our gathering and not a way to entertain ourselves but the way to let his name be exalted. When we make God number one in our gathering he will take us to the highest level beyond our imagination. So, it’s high time our assemblies begin to refocus on God. Our gatherings, decisions and activities should be what we should do today to make God happy. When we focus on that God will be glad to come among us and exalt himself among his people.
Lastly, what are the expectations from this year Just Worship (JW 9) holding next month November 20th, 2020 by the grace of God?
By the grace of God this year Just Worship is the 9th edition (JW9). It will hold on November 20th, 2020 from 10pm-5am. This year experience and encounter with God I believe will be very unique because God will come down in an unusual way in this unusual year. God is set to do the awesome among his people in our gathering this year. Due to the pandemic, we have agreed to do it within the opportunities that are available to us. In time past we had several people gathering together that we were thinking that this could be the last time that our field would be used in anticipation of nothing less than 15,000 people gathering together. But the pandemic has changed that course. For this year the plan is that we can only accommodate 1,000 people on sight. These people are those who have registered online and they will be given the link so that they can personally and physically be present. They will not just be given the link they will also be given entrance tag so that they can be in the auditorium. We are also giving opportunity to another 1, 000 worshippers who will worship via zoom; one of the beautiful gatherings on zoom in our time. We are looking forward to have a thousand man worshipers and worshiping groups worshiping via zoom. And that will be very awesome. The rest of the worshippers will worship through television live on channel 185 of Star time decoder. And several others will worship via face book, YouTube, Instagram and online radio. Among ministers that the Lord will use to minister to us this year are Onos Ariyo, Erujeje, Steve crown, Praise “N” Joy, Sam Diji, Bunmi Akinola, Gloria Buraimoh and our great Indian Christian Congregation; they always come every year to be a blessing to us. By the grace of God Heritage will also bring the spoken word. Shepherd’s voice will also minister to us and also Sam Olu Joshua. We are trusting God for it to be a 7 hours gathering from 10p.m-5a.m. The theme for this year is KABOD. KABOD is one of the Hebrew words for name of glory. So, it is a year of glory. 2020 is a year of glory. KABOD is coming. Don’t miss it because it will be glorious. So I enjoin all to come and join us. If you have not registered, go and register online. You will see on our fliers the place you can register or get ready to worship from other avenues as the Lord blesses you.