More than 1,300 students from 74 churches attended Congreso 2023, hosted at Dallas Baptist University.
“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,” featured speaker Bobby Contreras, pastor of Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio, told the group.
Congreso, one of the largest Hispanic youth evangelism conferences in the United States, has been training and equipping students for 59 years.
During the April 7–9 event, 93 made professions of faith in Christ.
Learning to be a light
The theme for Congreso 2023 was “Illuminate,” and students were urged to walk, bask and share in the light of Christ. Contreras reminded students that walking with the Lord is a personal choice and not something that happens unintentionally.
He said attending events like Congreso would give them a fresh energy to rededicate themselves to their faith, but students also should walk in their faith on a daily basis.
“Congreso cannot walk in the light for you,” Contreras declared. “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?’”
Students spread out for a time of prayer across the DBU campus, encouraged to reflect on sins that were prevalent in their lives and to write those down and stick them to a cross in DBU’s quad. The written prayers overflowed from the cross to nearby trees.
That evening Contreras reflected on the importance of basking and walking in the light of Christ, referencing the cross filled with their written prayers and noting many 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 encouraged, leading them 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.”
Both Thursday and Friday night ended with altar calls, with leaders standing in the front of the room to pray with students and answer questions.
In addition to general sessions, Congreso participants took part in workshops with topics including being a catalyst for Christ, preparing for college, apologetics, mental health issues and sharing the gospel.
Contreras wrapped up the event by encouraging students to take what they learned and go out to be light in their communities, drawing from Philippians 2:13–15. He explained that God had started a good work in each one and He would be faithful to carry it through.
“It sounds like an odd statement, but I’m so glad you’re leaving,” Contreras told the group. “Not because I don’t like you, but it does us no good to stay here. We must leave, because the world around us needs you. So do whatever it takes … be a light.”