“Each and every one of us have an opportunity as we walk in the light, as we seek to bask in the light… [to] leave here with the urgent enthusiasm to take and share the light,” said Bobby Contreras, pastor of Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio, to the crowd of students and leaders during the final day of Congreso 2023.
Over 1,300 students from 74 churches attended the three-day event, which was hosted at Dallas Baptist University (DBU) on April 7-9. Congreso, which is the one of the largest Hispanic youth evangelism conferences in the United States, has been training and equipping students for 59 years. This year, 93 students became believers in Christ throughout the weekend.
Learning to be a light for Christ
Congreso’s theme for 2023 was “Illuminate,” urging students in attendance to walk, bask and share in the light of Christ. The theme verse was John 8:12. During his sermon on Thursday night, Contreras reminded students that walking with the Lord is a personal choice and not something that happens unintentionally.
He told students that attending events like Congreso gave them a fresh energy to rededicate themselves to their faith, but they should also walk in their faith on a daily basis.
“Congreso cannot walk in the light for you. Just coming to Congreso does nothing for you. What Congreso does is it gives us an opportunity, sets the stage, creates the atmosphere, for us to decide what it is we choose today. And would we start here today by walking in the light, and by saying I need light for the darkness that I just came from,” Contreras said.
On Friday morning the students spread out for a time of prayer across DBU’s campus. They were encouraged to reflect on sins that were prevalent in their own lives and to write those prayers and stick them to a cross in DBU’s quad. The written prayers overflowed onto nearby trees as the cross became too full.
That evening, Contreras reflected on the importance of basking and walking in the light of the Son. He referenced the cross filled with their written prayers and said many of the prayers promised that, in the future, they would be more faithful.
Contreras encouraged the students to not wait for the future, but instead to begin actively walking in the Lord’s light that day.
“Why wait? It is not good enough to wait. Start now,” he said. He led the students in prayer, saying, “Jesus forgive me. I’m not waiting until the end of the month anymore, tonight is the night I want you to heal this in me.”
Students challenged to live out what they learned
Both Thursday and Friday night ended with altar calls, where students could come to accept Christ into their lives or rededicate their lives to the Lord. Leaders stood in the front of the room to guide students through prayer and answer any questions they had.
In addition to the general sessions, students and leaders took part in workshops on Friday, with subjects including being a catalyst for Christ, preparing for college, apologetics, mental health and sharing the gospel. All of the workshops aligned with the theme of Illuminate, giving students opportunities to learn about how to be a light in their communities.
On Saturday morning, Contreras wrapped up the event by encouraging students to take what they learned and go out to be the light in their communities. He drew from Philippians 2:13-15, explaining that God has started a good work in each person who attended Congreso, and He would be faithful to carry that good work through.
“It sounds like an odd statement, but I’m so glad you’re leaving. Not because I don’t like you, but it does us no good to stay here,” he said. “We must leave, because the world around us needs you. So do whatever it takes … be a light.”
As part of their emphasis on higher education, Congreso gave away 10 scholarships of $500 to students chosen at random who were in attendance.
More information about Congreso can be found at txb.org/congreso and follow Congreso on Facebook and Instagram for updates.