May 5, 2003

Youth Congresso highlights service,
messages on need for sexual purity

___By John Hall
___Texas Baptist Communications
___ARLINGTON--Hundreds of people made decisions for Christ and put their invigorated faith to work at Congresso, a Baptist General Convention of Texas-sponsored event for Hispanic youth and single adults.
___More than 300 people made spiritual decisions, including 181 rededications to Christianity and 57 professions of faith in Jesus Christ, following practical teachings from Joshua Harris and Daniel "Tiny" Dominguez. Harris is author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and "Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Court
PARTICIPANTS in Congresso pose with children they ministered to in Arlington.
ship." Dominguez is youth minister at Iglesia Bautista Getsemani in Fort Worth.
___A proper view of sex centers on God and begins with a high view of marriage, Harris told the crowd. God "invented" sex as a gift of bonding for a husband and a wife, he said.
___Christians should view sex positively within marriage, Harris argued. It is pure in those confines and should be guarded vehemently. "God's plan is that sex and marriage are connected. You can't have one without the other."
___Much of what people believe about sex is not biblical, Harris said, explaining that most people learn about sex from non-biblical sources, including television, friends and pornography. Society emphasizes sex as a pleasurable event separate from marriage.
___Even Christians fall into the trap of being non-biblical about sex by overreacting to the misguided teachings of culture, Harris commented. He noted some Christians argue sex is inherently evil and should be avoided.
___All these popular but incorrect views encourage an incorrect and fearful image of Christians, Harris warned. "We're not afraid of sex. We save it because we respect it."
___God judges all sexual immorality, Harris warned the youth. Many times people erroneously believe God will make an exception for their actions because they are "good" people or the couple is "in love."
___"When you take (sex) outside the plan, it becomes destructive," Harris said. "It becomes dangerous."
___Common excuses are deceptions of Satan, Harris warned, adding that Satan strives to steal the gift of sex from each person.
___"The devil wants to rob that from you and replace it with lust and impurity," he cautioned.
___Harris urged the crowd to have a "healthy fear" of sex and halt sexually questionable activity. He encouraged the audience to avoid pushing the line of sexual morality and end any relationships where that line is challenged.
___Christians should confess their sins to other Christians and ask for prayer to help with the problem, Harris suggested.
___Dominguez encouraged youth to discover the call of God in their lives. God has a purpose for each life and has laid plans for everyone to glorify God, he said.
___"It doesn't matter what culture, it doesn't matter where you are in life, there's something that we all have in common and that's that we have a father in heaven who for some reason has chosen to love us," Dominguez said.
___He recalled sensing a call to ministry but wanting to be a football player instead. He worked hard and was "pretty darn good," but hurt his knee when he was 19 and could not play football again. Dominguez remembers surrendering to the call that year even though he was "scared to be a minister."
___His calling was reaffirmed at Congresso that year, he said. Dominguez said he wanted to encourage the 2003 participants in the same manner.
___Small distractions get in the way of people's spiritual lives, he argued. Sin seems to work its way into Christians' lives and prevent them from seeing revival.
___"It's easy to say you're a Christian," Dominguez noted. "Over 90 percent of Americans consider themselves Christian. That's why so many say, 'You know the reason I don't go to church is because it's full of hypocrites.'
___"I don't condone Christians for being that way. We need to show people that even though we're going through all that we go through, we can still shine God through our lives."
___Participants in Congresso helped publicize the Mission Arlington Easter egg hunt and shared the gospel with more than 2,200 people during the gathering. Thirty-eight people professed faith in Christ.
___The youth also prayed for those who felt a call to ministry and gave an offering to help with scholarships for 21 students who attended the event.
___With additional reporting by Celeste Abaunza

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