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1-28-13 Forty-Nine Baptized at Hispanic Youth Retreat
The leadership team, ecstatic and in humble acceptance of a miracle
The SCC Hispanic Youth Ministry (HYM) held its 2012 Retreat at Camp Cedar Falls, Angelus Oaks, California, on Labor Day weekend. More than 300 college and high school-aged youth attended. They represented the more than 53 SCC Hispanic Churches and the Fontana Hispanic Church from the Southeastern California Conference.
|Andrea and Santos Rivera embrace after their baptism by Pastor Herbert Hernandez. On Facebook the next day, Andrea posted, “It’s all a new beginning for me and my brother, Santos.” [Photo by Javier Navarrete]|
Away from the pressures, noise and distraction of Los Angeles urban and suburban life, attendees enhanced their special encounter with God in nature by participating in two other activities that allowed them plenty of time to connect and mingle: a talent show and a soccer and volleyball championship.
In one of the main sermons delivered by keynote speaker Pr. Cangy, titled, Dare to Dream, youth were challenged to reflect on the story of Moses, who received God’s grace and overcame his failures, then saw the fulfillment of his dreams. The message ended with a call for the youth to accept the love of God in spite of themselves and their pasts, because they are never beyond His love.
When an invitation was given for campers to connect or reconnect with Christ through baptism, 49 precious souls accepted the call, a historic record, for the glory of God.
The leadership team, ecstatic and in humble acceptance of a miracle, acknowledged, “It has to be the work of the Holy Spirit, nothing else.” Pastor Pablo Gaitan, HYM Leader, added, “I still cannot believe what we experienced here. The Spirit of God showed us that He still calls young people to Jesus in huge ways.” To see so many youth around the swimming pool witnessing the baptismal ceremony of their friends, sometimes entering the swimming pool themselves – in groups of 5, 10; up to 30, at one point – to show support and share in the joy, singing, applauding, crying, shouting Amens, was not just the highlight of the retreat, it was its main reason.
"La locura del evangelio," Pastor Luis Peña, SCC Hispanic Region director, commented, which is Spanish for the foolishness of the cross.
Bullet Zedan, one of the first youth to be baptized, a member of El Sereno Spanish Church and a student at California State University at Northridge, posted on Facebook the next day, “God did wonders that day.”
The following week Pastor Cangy wrote on the HYM Facebook wall, “That was a real special event, where 49 second- and third-generation Hispanic youth of Southern California got baptized over the weekend. We give Him the glory and reap the blessings.”
by Sam Del Pozo