For more than a decade, high school students from Spanish-speaking churches in Oregon Conference have held an annual youth retreat at Washington Family Ranch.
The retreat provides youth a great chance to make new friends, spend time with old ones and grow in their spiritual journeys as they worship and fellowship together. This year, many young leaders shared stories of how they first came to Washington Family Ranch as participants and now serve as pastors, chaperones and volunteers.
More than 200 teens traveled with their chaperones to Antelope, Oregon, leaving behind the forests and greenery of the west side of the state for the sprawling rocky landscape of eastern Oregon. After caravanning down miles of gravel road, they found themselves on the green, adventure-filled campus of Washington Family Ranch, where they were greeted with ziplines, swimming pools, go-karts, an obstacle course and many more exciting activities.
Most importantly, however, the youth joined together to learn more about Jesus. This year’s theme was "God’s Playlist." Harold Altamirano, Echo Church lead pastor, spoke for four programs, reminding the teens that when the voices in our heads tell us we are unlovable, God’s voice says He will never stop loving us. Whatever negative thoughts we may have about who we are and what we’re worth, Altamirano proclaimed, “God has told us that we are worth everything to Him!”
“Write a list of negative things that you have thought or said about yourself,” he said in one challenge, “Take a moment to think about this negative inner voice in your head. Surrender that voice to Jesus this weekend. Look for gospel realities in the Bible about who you really are in Christ and come up with your new list. Make a note on your phone and repeat them daily.” Some examples provided were 1 John 3:1, “I am God’s child;” 1 John 1:9, “I am forgiven;” and Rom. 5:8, “I am loved.”
On Sabbath evening, several young people made the decision to be baptized and were joined by close friends, family and trusted leaders. Several more stepped forward to a call for those who would be interested in becoming pastors one day and helping to lead in their local churches.