Inter-America: Camporee opens with fireworks, drama and inspiring messages


April 20, 2011 – Mexico City, Mexico….Libna Stevens/IAD

Shouts of joy filled the air as a sea of anxious Seventh-day Adventists gathered on a cool clear evening for the opening ceremony of Inter-America’s 3rd Pathfinder Camporee-the largest ever territory-wide youth-held event. It was an evening which set the tone for the more than 20,000 campers who traveled from throughout Mexico and the rest of the church regions in the Inter-American Division (IAD) and crowded a huge area at the Ciudad Deportiva complex in Mexico City, April 19, 2011.

“We are very happy that you have come from far away to this event,” said Pastor Benjamin Carballo, youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America and top organizer of the event, as he welcomed the thousandsof pathfinders. “You are all conquerors of giants,” he said as thousands screamed at the sound of the theme Conquering Giants–a theme based on the story of David overcoming Goliath.

As the Pathfinder flag was flown and the Pathfinder pledge and law echoed throughout the gathering area, young people welcomed their respective youth leaders with the energy and enthusiasm as they soaked in the first rainless night this week.

Top youth leaders of the Adventist World Church and leaders of the IAD were present on stage as well four generations of youth leaders who have led thousands of Pathfinders during the past 30 years in Inter-America. Leaders like Pastor Israel Leito, who led the first division-wide camporee as youth leader in 1983 and currently serves as president of the church in Inter-America; Pastor Alfredo Garcia-Marenko, former youth ministries director and organizer of the second pathfinder camporee held in 1998; Pastor Eliezer Melendez. who for over 50 years served as youth leader and attended 962 camporees in his lifetime, and Pastor Bernardo Rodriguez. former youth ministries director for Inter-America who envisioned and planned for the historic camporee this week.

“This church prepares and forms leaders,” said Carballo. “Just know that you can conquer your giant because you have been anointed for a special mission just like these leaders,” he added.

Francisco Javier Sanchez Cervantez, top leader of Iztacalco district in Mexico City, thanked church leaders and welcomed Pathfinders to his city.

“We welcome you and want you to enjoy your camporee in this the largest outdoor facility in our country,” said Sanchez. He thanked the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its contribution to molding positive young people in his city.

Representing the nation’s president, Felipe Calderon, was Paulo Tort, director of Religious Affairs, who on behalf of the federal government welcomed and thanked the body of church leaders dedicated to promoting a system of moral values to assure a safer society.

“The government appreciates the important role the Seventh-day Adventist church has had in forming children, young people and adults towards a better society,” said Tort. “Your church has always conducted itself with enormous respect for government authorities,” he said as he addressed Pastor Tomas Torres, president of the church in Central Mexico and top representative of the church in Mexico.

“May you return a better person than when you arrived in our country,” he added. “Mexico welcomes you with open arms every time you conquer giants in your lives.”

Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, thanked Tort on behalf of the church in Inter-America and emphasized the commitment the church “to serve Mexico as good citizens and Seventh-day Adventists.”

Pastor Leito then addressed Pathfinders and leaders and encouraged them to continue trusting God in their lives.

“God is on our side, so there is no giant that we cannot conquer,” said Pastor Leito, as he declared the camporee officially open. “Our Inter-American Division has worked hard so that our young can be triumphant. We hope you enjoy the friendships you make here and grow spiritually and triumphant.”

The program continued with a fireworks display and musical numbers.

Adventist World Church Youth Ministries director Pastor Gilbert Cangy was the keynote speaker. In his message, Cangy posed a question based on 1 Samuel 17 to the large gathering.

“What direction are you going to run to when you face your giants,” said Pastor Cangy, as he reflected on the story of David overcoming Goliath. “Are you going to run away or are you going to run towards the giant to face and conquer?”

“Young people, the difference is found in the power of God over your life. The secret of victory is in the power of God,” he emphasized. “Commit not to run away. In the name of Jesus confront the great giant and defeat him.”

As Pastor Cangy concluded his message, a special prayer was made for the three young people who were baptized during the program near the stage.

A 30-minute musical drama performance on the early life of David kept crowd attentive.

For Nelson Ramos, age 15, of east Puerto Rico, the opening ceremony was full of energy. “I loved the theme song and [Pastor Cangy’s] message really touched me,” said Ramos. “It reminded me that it doesn’t matter which enemies we are faced with, we can really overcome anything with God’s help.”

Facing the giant of the cold is something Roxanne Daley of Kingston, Jamaica is facing, especially at night. “I’m trying to conquer my fear of the cold,” said Daley, who suffers from asthma. “We are not used to this cold at night but we made the best of it,” she said.

Carlos Ortiz, age 15, said the program really inspired him. Ortiz belongs to the Arcangel Pathfinder Club of Nueva Esperanza in Panama. “It was good to hear that we as young people need to grow spiritually while we have fun and meet new friends,” said Ortiz.

Melissa Naranjo Hernandez, a Facebook fan of the camporee page, commented on the live webcast of the program. “I’m not in the camporee, but its so exciting to see the ceremony,” she said. “I wish I was there.”

Pathfinders will get to participate in marches, honor activities, sports events, competitions, and more activities throughout the week.

For news updates on Inter-America’s Pathfinder Camporee, visit us at http://www.interamerica.org

Tune in to watch the live webcast every evening program at 7:00 p.m. Central Time or Mexico City Time at http://camporee.interamerica.org/

To view a photo gallery of the Camporee visit us at http://www.flickr.com/photos/interamerica

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