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Today in the Mission Yearbook

North Carolina youth ask the important question, ‘¿Cuándo te vimos?’


Bilingual youth conference ‘When Did We See You?’ was made possible through the Pentecost Offering

June 17, 2024

The “When Did We See You?” conference (“¿Cuándo te vimos?”) included participation by local emergency medical services personnel in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Contributed photo)

If given the choice, most people would rather not ride on a hospital gurney.

Except for Hector Cardenas.

In fact, the 17-year-old senior at SandHoke Early College High School in Raeford, North Carolina, said that getting onto “an ambulance bed and being picked up to be placed inside of the vehicle” was his favorite activity.

At a 2023 youth conference, that is.

Last April, Cardenas was one of 85 youth, ages 11 to 22, and 20 adult chaperones who gathered at the Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana de Fayetteville (North Carolina), for a daylong conference titled “When Did We See You?”| “¿Cuándo te vimos?” [ te veemos].

The unique event — which attracted participants from five Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations in the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina and one church in the Presbytery of New Hope — was conducted in both English and Spanish using the event planning guide available through the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium (PYT), which also provided the organizers with generous grant support.

Offering innovative, creative and collaborative ways to bring Presbyterian youth together is one of the primary objectives of PYT. To support congregations and mid councils in programming such events as “¿Cuándo te vimos?,” PYT has published four free online resource guides with the Matthew 25-inspired theme “When Did We See You?,” so that youth and their leaders across the PC(USA) can contextualize the theme and make it their own.

Held both in Spanish and English, the unique conference attracted participants from churches in the presbyteries of Coastal Carolina and New Hope. (Contributed photo)

“The ‘When Did We See You?’ resources were originally intended to be a part of a new endeavor called PYT BEYOND,” said Gina Yeager-Buckley, mission coordinator for PYT. “This program is a way to expand the reach of the excellent content, learnings and conversations that happen at the Triennium but can really be experienced everywhere. BEYOND is a way to open the doors on the event and welcome in so many others; and, more importantly, to share and reshare an important gospel message about faith grounded in and surrounded by justice, awareness and faithfulness.”

Creating opportunities for the Good News to reach young people — wherever they may be — is what the Pentecost Offering, one of the PC(USA)’s four Special Offerings, is all about.

Among the Offering’s most enthusiastic supporters is Jerusalén Martínez Zarco, who has served as associate for Youth Ministry for the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina for the past four years. A native of Mexico where her parents were medical missionaries, Martínez heard God’s call to work with children at a very young age.

“My ministry started with playing music, but I also worked on the medical side, serving with my parents in the rural areas and helping them by bathing the kids, giving them what they needed and teaching them guitar songs,” she said. “I also started a youth conference and invited all my middle school friends to come to church. They really enjoyed it.”

Her passion for youth ministry only continued to grow after the family moved to the U.S. in 2014 when her father was called as pastor of the Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana de Fayetteville, where the “¿Cuándo te vimos?” conference was held.

Because the presbytery youth council that Martínez staffs was charged with planning and organizing the one-day conference, she counted on both resources and funding support from the national church.

“At the time the [2022] Triennium was going to happen, our youth were so excited to go, and it was canceled,” she said. “So, I asked myself, ‘What’s another thing we can do? Let me figure it out. I’m pretty sure that PYT has materials they can provide to us.’ That’s how it started.”

Cardenas, who is a member of the Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana and the presbytery youth council, is already busy both studying and serving.

“My favorite subjects in school have always been math and science because English has always been the hardest for me,” he said. “Right now, I am in early college trying to get an associate’s degree in science to then go on to do a two-year promise program with free tuition before transferring to a university to complete my bachelor’s. I want to get a bachelor’s in the medical field because I want to go on and become a physical therapist.”

Emily Enders Odom, Associate Director of Mission Communications

Today’s Focus: Youth gathered at the “When Did We See You?”| “¿Cuándo te vimos?” [ te veemos] conference

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Tracey King-Ortega, Mission Coordinator II, Mission Partners & Program, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency 
Oweeda Kinnaird, Trust Associate, Presbyterian Foundation 

Let us pray

Fathering and mothering God, you guide our steps. Continue lighting our paths, so that we might reflect and radiate that light wherever we are. Let your church see not just the future but also the present that is already serving you. Amen.