EL CENTRO — Youth for Christ (YFC) participated in the nationwide National Day of Prayer by sponsoring an event for teens called “Youth Prayer Experience” Thursday evening at Calvary Chapel in El Centro.
Jeremiah Vik, executive director of Youth For Christ, said prayer time was interactive with participants not just sitting, kneeling or praying. Organized hands-on activities helped them recognize prayers are more than only talking with God through traditional praying positions, he explained. A person can pray to God in a lot of different ways since God has given multiple avenues for communicating with him, and that was the idea for the prayer experience for the kids, according to Vik.
“We have gathered the youth together to have a special night of more than just prayer, but where they get to have a prayer experience,” Vik said. “And that’s the title of the event, ‘Youth Prayer Experience.’ The idea is that these kids would be able to come together in a place where they can experience worship.”
Participants, ages 11-19, came from several local area churches including Calvary Chapel, Christ Community Church, First Assembly, First Christian Church, Remnant Church, and Valley Christian Church. One hundred chairs were set up for the event.
The teens moved through three stations at the church, each one with a theme. In the first station, the youth were taught about the Last Supper and the suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were encouraged to pray and ask God to show them how they can give, suffer, and be passionate.
The second station focused on praying for others. They learned they can pray for friends, family members, or people they knew who are struggling with addiction, depression, discouragement and temptation.
On the third station, the teenagers engaged in woodworking projects, said Jim Roberts, the man in charge of the station. Using their creativity, participants wrote key words — such as personal sins, struggles, and concerns — on small blocks of recycled wood which were affixed to a wooden cross about 12 feet high. Later that evening, volunteers Daniel Theodos, Juan Benito and Roberts used white paint and brushes to cover the blocks of wood. According to Roberts, the white paint covering the messages symbolized the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ through his death on the cross. They also explained to the youth that it was a symbol of admission of guilt and the forgiveness by Christ.
Some of the messages written by the teens included, “Help me.” “I’m ugly.” “Feeling alone.” “Distance Dad.” “Anger and life style.” “Self harm.” “God, Please help me with my addiction and my disbelief in you,” and another one signed with two hearts that said, “Keep my hands to myself.”
Kathy Perez, 17, attends Remnant Church in El Centro and talked about her experience. “I just want to draw myself closer to God because lately I’ve been distancing myself from him and I feel like this really brought me closer to him again,” Perez said.
She said, “The visuals about Christ, like how he was here on this earth, and how he went, just really like, wow. Like someone so beat, like so pure, got so much hate. He still loves me even though I’m such a sinful person.”
Another participant, Santiago Castillo, 16, said he attends Christ Community Church in El Centro.
“I have friends that are struggling with suicidal thoughts and just being depressed,” Castillo said. “I’m praying to God and asking him to help my friends and my family. I have learned that prayer works. I have been sidetracking from God and I haven’t been reading my Bible.”
Castillo continued, “Stay in prayer. Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the doors will be opened.”