For those who may be wondering about this 250-person “Encuentro” mentioned in previous posts, your questions will now be answered.
The New Testament church was established in Colombia 31 years ago. Today there are 43 faithful congregations throughout the country. That is a lot of growth, but many of these churches are small, and they are dispersed across an area nearly three times the size of Montana. Many Christians can have little contact with brethren in other places. We all know how hard this can be, especially for young people.
Around 8 years ago, Carlos Mantilla (an evangelist in Ibague) organized a weekend for young people to come together at their own expense for Bible studies, singing, and to simply have time together – much like a summer camp in the U.S. These first “Encuentros” (Eng. – Encounters) had around 25 – 30 participants but that number has grown in recent years, along with the age range. Last year’s Encuentro weekend had 145 participants, around half being adults from ages 20-something to 90 years old.
It was decided this year’s Encuentro would undergo a few changes:
- Re-focus on young people from ages 10 to 25.
- Change the length from 2-1/2 days to a week.
- Find a better site than the schools used in the past (with their shortage of beds, kitchens and “facilities”).
- Plan a greater variety of activities and classes.
- Encourage more young people to attend. (People from only a half dozen congregations came last year.)
Our goal: Create an environment for young people to come together to grow spiritually and build relationships with other Christians their age.
Planning for next week’s Encuentro began back in January when the new site was chosen. (Pictures here.) Our 250-bed capacity looks to be filled with around 175 young people and another 70 adults. Five countries will be represented: Colombia, the U.S., Panama, Chile and Venezuela. The opportunity and potential for good are tremendous.
The Encuentro begins Sunday afternoon and concludes next Friday. We will appreciate your prayers and thoughts as we work to succeed in our goal of shaping so many young hearts.