WACO—“Being alive means realizing you cannot earn your way to a relationship with God,” Andrea Ramirez shared with a crowd of 3,200 Hispanic youth and leaders during Texas Baptists’ Congreso 2019. Congreso attendees celebrated 55 years of ministry through the annual Hispanic youth evangelism conference. Throughout the conference, 60 students came forward to make professions of faith and 119 students recommitted their lives to Christ. An additional 21 students surrendered to a call to ministry.
During her Thursday evening address at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center, Ramirez told students about the eternal purpose God had for each person. Drawing from the theme verse of Galatians 2:20, she discussed the power of dying to self and giving God the glory in all circumstances.
“We have a God who pursues us and He responds to us,” Ramirez shared. “When we take the smallest step toward Him, He responds to us.”
Just as in John 11, Martha was trying to earn a relationship with Jesus through service, many Christians today do things for God rather than seek a relationship with God. When Jesus found out his friend Lazarus was sick, he did not rush to him. “God impressed on Jesus’ heart that it wasn’t yet the time to go,” Ramirez said. While Mary and Martha did not understand the Lord’s delay, Jesus knew, “it would not end in death but for God’s glory,” Ramirez shared.
“When you are alive, you have an eternal perspective for how God is moving in your friends’ lives,” she said.
Additional ways Ramirez encouraged students to be alive in Christ were to think differently, work with others, and be willing to answer God’s call.
A collision which brought life
Friday evening’s message was brought by Daniel “Tiny” Dominguez, pastor of Community Heights Church in Lubbock, detailing the collision with death and sin which took place as Jesus died on the cross.
Drawing from Matthew 27:50, Dominguez highlighted Satan’s attempt for sin to conquer man and God’s display of power and love by sending his son to Earth.
Applying the biblical passage to students in 2019, he discussed how sin often knocks people down and hurts others.
“God has always been tired with the way the enemy has tried to come and destroy every one of our lives,” Dominguez said. “So collision had to happen to show the devil his place … Sin and God collided. Jesus had the collision and Satan fell to his knees and the veil was torn.”
He went on to describe the personal relationship available to each person because the Holy Spirit came down and can now dwell within the hearts of believers.
“The reason you are here is because Jesus is knocking,” Dominguez said. “Now you have to choose to open the door to let him in—not for a minute, but for him to come home and be with you ... so you can experience Him all the days of your life.”
Students give back in multiple ways
The three-day event was held in Waco, with general sessions hosted at Baylor University, workshops at the Waco Convention Center, and mission projects conducted throughout the city.
Mission projects ranged from assembling hygiene kits for Texas Baptists River Ministry to assisting with beautification projects around the city.
Pastor Emmanuel Roldan, from Primera Iglesia Bautista Waco, welcomed two groups of students to his church who engaged in community ministry within the church’s neighborhood. One group helped take out the garbage for neighbors in an apartment complex and a second group went to the nearby middle school to build a structure in the garden.
As Roldan shared with students about the value of their service he said, “we want to show our neighbors that this is God’s world … What you are doing here is continuing a relationship that has been going on for two years. Thank you for being a part of this ministry.”
An offering of $3,011 was raised by attendees to support the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. An additional offering of $1,800 was raised to begin a college scholarship for Congreso students. The first scholarship will be awarded at Congreso 2020. Four hundred twenty-four pairs of shoes were also collected by students for Buckner International’s Shoes for Orphan Souls program.