Thousands of young people and university students participated in a recent regional Youth Congress in Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia.
Coined as “I Choose to Be Faithful,” the event drew more than 3,000 from across the North Colombia Union Conference (NCU) to meet at Libertad Adventist School, August 11-14, 2022. Attendees were taught how to use technology to witness, use new communication and service skills, and teach others how to deepen their knowledge of Christ and fulfill the mission of spreading the gospel.
“A congress in Colombia always gives us the opportunity to project ourselves into the future, to evaluate what has been done and be able to have our young people active [in the church],” NCU youth ministries director Mauricio Buitrago said. Buitrago, the main organizer of the event, explained that the opportunity to gather was delayed because of the pandemic, but gathering in person was a special treat for the entire delegation.
“Many who are attending come from places where their local churches have 20 or 30 members. A congress lets them see that we are a large and strong church,” Buitrago said.
The program included worship, praise, prayer sessions, training, and study of the Bible during the four-day event. Young people also took part in testifying through cleaning activities in parks, activities for children, as well as distribution of literature in various communities.
Yeison Fonnegra, a delegate from the East Central Colombian Conference in Barrancabermeja, said it was his first time in such a large congress and an unforgettable experience. “Being part of this congress has enriched me as we share with the culture of our country, listen to speakers, connect with each delegate, and enjoy the singers,” he said. “It has been so edifying for my life and has strengthened my faith.”
Keynote speakers included Inter-American Division (IAD) public campus ministries director Hiram Ruiz, IAD youth ministries director Al Powell, IAD Publishing Association editor Jorge Luis Rodríguez, and Colombia Adventist University chaplain Daniel Cayrus.
“I want you to think that your life should embody the life of Christ,” Ruiz said. “Your presence at your university will make a huge difference, but you need to draw close to people, telling them who God is to you.” He reminded young people to be ambassadors for Christ wherever they find themselves.
Alejando Medina Villareal, an author and faculty member for the postgraduate program at Montemorelos University in Mexico, reminded attendees that a youth congress helps them know who they are and who they belong to.
The program was carried live online through the Hope Media Colombia television and radio stations in northern Colombia, covering the cities of Medellin and Bucaramanga, with an estimated 200,000 audience.
“It is necessary that in the end times in which we are living, for young people decide to be faithful to God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit,” Buitrago said.