After two years of pandemic delays, Spanish-speaking teens and 20-somethings welcome big national meeting.
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
ELGIN, Ill. — Some flew thousands of miles to attend.
Others made 16-hour drives in church vans.
All came — from Churches of Christ in more than 20 states — to sing praises to God, play soccer and volleyball and enjoy fellowship with Spanish-speaking peers.
The recent three-day Reunión Juvenil Nacional — “national youth meeting” in English — drew about 750 young people and sponsors to a Chicago-area community center.
The Elgin Church of Christ, about 40 miles northwest of the Windy City, organized the long-planned Latino gathering. The event proceeded after two years of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a bit exciting just being around people who believe the same thing we do,” said Moises Martinez, 23, a member of the Westview Church of Christ in Greeley, Colo.
Two dozen teens and adults from the Colorado congregation made the roughly 1,000-mile drive.
Like most who made the trip, Westview member Nathaly Loaiza, 16, communicates easily in English and Spanish.
But there’s something special, Loaiza said, about lifting her voice to heaven in the language she grew up speaking.
“Personally, I love going to English church camp and stuff,” she said. “But being here and just worshiping in Spanish kind of just makes it feel more personal. … It’s just like, wow, you can see a big group of people speaking Spanish and just having fun together.”
This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.
Featured photo by Audrey Jackson