WACO—Blessie Kurpati remembers strapping Bibles to her body as a young girl, covering them in an oversized dress and running through the airport to smuggle the precious books into the Middle Eastern country where her family lived.
As she presented her Christian testimony, Kurpati challenged students not to let fear dictate how they follow Jesus.
“I want to encourage you to take advantage of the freedom we have in America to spread the gospel,” she said. “Let God break your heart for what breaks his and reach out to your neighbors, your friends, your classmates and even your family.”
Kurpati addressed a crowd of 2,400 at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center during the Texas Baptists’ Change Maker Student Conference, traditionally known as Congreso.
Living Water for a societal outcast
Church planter DA Horton, from Los Angeles, preached from the Gospel of John, describing Jesus’ interaction with an outcast.
“If we want to be change makers, we have to understand the change that Jesus is,” Horton said.
Providing the context for the familiar biblical story of the woman at the well, Horton described how the ethnic tensions, time of day and the woman’s station in life all made Jesus’ encounter with her surprising and noteworthy.
Despite knowing all of her background, Jesus desired a relationship with her. As he talked about Living Water, she understood the significance and desired what he offered.
“The reality is, Jesus is saying the same to us,” Horton said. “Jesus says, ‘I know all of your dirt, but I’m ready to wash you and make you clean with my Living Water.’”
More than 200 professions of faith in Christ
After Horton’s sermon, he invited students who had not yet given their lives to Christ to come forward for prayer. Students flooded the aisles in response to the call.
“It touched my heart to see how many students responded to the gospel—to come and drink the Living Water of Christ, to see the young people moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted of sin, crying out for Jesus to save them,” Horton said.
During the weekend event, 205 students made professions of faith in Christ, another 156 rededicated their lives to Christ, and 39 responded to God’s call to full-time ministry.
Service and ministry in the community
Also during Congreso, more than 1,200 students spread out across Waco to engage in mission work. They led backyard Bible clubs at apartment complexes, ran in a 5K fun run with Mission Waco, helped with yard work and played games with residents at senior living facilities.
“When I think Texas Baptists, this is what I think of—Congreso,” said Jordan Villanueva, youth minister at Grace Temple Baptist Church in Oak Cliff. “I’m here with youth ministers, individuals I went to school with, and others I have met in the past few months.
“We are all coming together with our churches, and we are worshipping together, serving together, helping each other out when need be. It’s just being the body (of Christ). While we are individual members in our communities, we are coming together as Texas Baptists.”