Hispanic and Anglo Congregations Combine Youth Groups

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Youth leaders in Lynden, Wash., have created a space where middle school students of different cultural backgrounds can grow together in faith.

Yuanita Gitamara, youth pastor of Bethel CRC, and Dan Houston, youth pastor of First Christian Reformed Church, lead a ministry called Oasis, which includes the middle school students from their churches as well as students from Amor Viviente, a Hispanic congregation in Lynden.

The group meets twice a month throughout the school year for Bible study, games, and activities.

“Lynden is a close-knit community, so sometimes it is hard to break out from the comfort zone. . . . We encourage students to be sensitive to issues of language and family finances,” explained Gitamara.

The Oasis group recently celebrated the profession of faith of Idalia Marquez, a student who attends Amor Viviente. “In our youth group, sometimes it is hard to talk to each other because of language and cultural barriers, but it is good to learn from each other and learn about God together,” she said.

Holly Hiemstra, a student from Bethel CRC, said she has “learn[ed] how to be more accepting of different people, to go out of my comfort zone and live out my Christian beliefs.”

Houston would love to see these friendships deepen. He hopes students will soon be comfortable enough to invite one another into their homes.

Gitamara said, “We pray that students and leaders in Oasis can experience growth and a foretaste of heaven, where people from all nations will worship the Lamb together.”

About the Author

Amy Toornstra is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

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