‘- by Nathaly Castellanos López
The Emmanuel community – in Cali, Colombia – hosted this year’s South American Youth Conference: Tu Momento 2017, that took place over the 28th,29th and 30th of April at Club los Andes, close to the city of Cali, Colombia.
On the first day, so awaited by many, all the participants and leaders gathered. Many had travelled many miles by bus or waited long hours at the airport, but they all came to the conference full of joy and enthusiasm. It began with the words of German Castellanos, César Ramirez and Jose David Flores.
This conference gathered 35 leaders and 80 young people from our communities from Lima, Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Cali.
Content of the Conference
There were 4 sessions, each of which had a main talk, a workshop and a prayer meeting. There was also a greatly impactful workshop about social media.
The first session, titled The time we were called to live in, displayed the reality our world is currently living in a concrete and real way. The situations and struggles we are facing. Many were struck by it because it focused on the withdrawal and detachment that had to take place in order to move forward.
The second session: The power of youth features the great capacity, strength and tenacity young people have to set the tone and to achieve great things. The major challenges that they may face at their young age can be overcome, they are the great tasks each of them can and must conquer.
The third session PA Project was about the call to community God gives to each of them: to take, accept and decide to belong to the bulwark taking on board, from now on, the call given to them by God. The workshop part involved the young people, divided by communities, and developing an outreach project that will be implemented in their local communities.
The fourth and final session: Tu Momento was split into a men’s session and a women’s session. They discussed about their realities, their fears and their call. The most important of this session was the prayer meeting. It was a time to leave all fears and doubts behind and to feel the real presence of God. It was a moment for each young person – by giving their all – to respond to God, kindle their light, decide to offer their youth and to take their place in the bulwark. Once they had made their decision they would go into the main hall where the King of Kings was waiting for them. It was a moment of joy, happiness, praise and worship. 115 hearts fully set apart to God.
There was also time for recreation, integration and fun. We had 2 sets of organised games, making the most of the facilities in the conference venue. There was also an opening night and a concert with a local Christian band from Cali (Red Fusion). We rejoiced in the brotherhood and friendship.
At the end the young people were able to say: “This is my moment to go with renewed strength and fire to my community, to inspire new hearts and to take my place in the bulwark”.
Damara Vizcarra Antunez de Mayolo (Fuerza de lo Alto – Lima, Peru)
I arrived to “Tu Momento”. There were setbacks as big as rocks that almost force me out of it; but I made it to Cali. I surely felt away from the world. Seeing all these people my age seeking the same Father and being there for me. It seemed to me like a new type of reality I have never before imagined. I started sharing about things I wouldn’t have commented to any other friend. I ran, sang and smiled until my cheeks hurt. And I found the Lord. All those labels that others – and myself – had given me vanished and I stopped being that nervous and week young girl. With stars in my eyes and thankful hands I can now say that I am healthy.
When it was over and I went back to Lima, the battle was already started and it was time for me to join. This retreat did more for me than medicine could ever do. It taught me how to accept myself with my flaws and my scars; it answered a few questions I didn’t even know I had. It was and it is my moment.
Valeria Vaeza (Emmanuel – Cali, Colombia)
Tu Momento was a time to find both God and myself. A time to open my heart and stop doubting. It was in this conference where I understood that because of his love we can have faith and hope. In my prayers I asked God why he had chosen me and what was his plan for my life. At Tu Momento I understood that all I have to do is to trust not only in his word but also in him, who will be present there with me through moments of weariness and of joy. This is my moment to be a part of the bulward and to face the world in which I live.
Daniel Novillo (JEES – Cuenca, Ecuador)
I felt God’s presence in the midst of the praises and the songs and I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I return to my community with some doubts but they will be answered by God’s divine grace. I return with a desire to honour the only King of Kings.
Camila Cañarte (Tierra Santa – Guayaquil, Ecuador)
Taking part of the Tu Momento Conference was one of the greatest experiences the Lord could have allowed me to have. I was thrilled to see so many young people like me and to share with them. Before the conference I wasn’t sure what I would find there. I understood that many have been called but only a few have been chosen, I understood that you don’t have to be on the top of the bulwark, you can be down at the base without being weak.
Diana Cardona (Emmanuel – Cali, Colombia)
God listens to me, he is always by my side, he has never left me alone. I wanted to feel his presence, I wanted to hear him, just like other people I know have seen him and listened to him and felt him, but not me. I asked him and I always did before any event but nothing ever happened. Then in one of the prayer times of this conference I knew that God listened to me. I was so fully given to God; I was giving him my ‘yes’. Our prayers are great, and even greater when we ask from the heart and for something good.
Sue Chica (JEES – Cuenca, Ecuador)
I went to the Tu Momento conference and it was truly an unforgettable experience; it was the deepest encounter I have had with God. I felt as if he needed me as a part of his people. I confirmed that this was my moment to give my life to the Lord. This event marked my life and I am sure I want to offer my youth to God. Now, more than ever, I am wiling to follow God’s call.
Víctor Méndez (Tierra Santa- Guayaquil, Ecuador)
During the conference I felt something different. It felt like a time between God and I and then I was willing to really listen to all the talks and the comments from the leaders. When my small group leader prayed with me I had a sensation I cannot explain. I decided to follow God, to fight for him, to follow him and to give my all to be an unashamed Christian.
After this period I began to have deeper thoughts on everything and on God. I realised that society takes religion and adapts it to their own beliefs. I am now working in my school to try and convince people who do this and also reaching out in a different way: with love, as God told us and how his disciples did it. I am willing to do whatever God asks of me to to accept and follow his call.
Nathaly Castellanos is a member of the Emmanuel community in Cali, Colombia. She was one of the leaders of the Tu Momento Conference. Photographs courtesy of the event’s organisers.