The Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade coming upon us this month is a reminder that there are less famous, but more spectacular, parades here in Massachusetts. One such event was Boston's Puerto Rican Parade that took place in Jamaica Plain a few months ago.
"This year we encouraged our youth to 'Know Thy Neighbor' as a way to invite them to go out into the community to see, taste, and know in a deeper way our mission field," said Lisa DePaz, pastor of The Hispanic Community Church in Jamaica Plain.
"We challenged them to serve and share our faith while enjoying being an active part of the community's activities, something that we call Evangelization. This term indicates our efforts are more than evangelism, because they involve spirituality while promoting cultural and moral values."
It was out of this Know Thy Neighbor theme that the youth group decided to take part in the Puerto Rican Parade. Yareliz Diaz, an active youth member, described their experience that day...
The Puerto Rican festival in the city of Boston is considered the city's largest Hispanic event with over 185,000 attendees over a three-day period. People from all over come to listen to the great music, eat delicious food, and celebrate the beauty that is Puerto Rican culture. This year was huge for the festival committee; they changed the venue of the festival and route of the parade in order to show others the presence of Latinos in Boston.
The youth group at the Jamaica Plain church decided that it would be a great opportunity to get to know our neighbor, show our presence, and share God's Word. Prior to the event, we spent Sunday afternoons discussing the logistics and planned for an amazing day of spreading the Good News. T-shirts were ordered for all of the youth, along with extras for other church members willing to walk with us. A banner was ordered, pamphlets on God's Word were stamped with our church information, lollipops were attached to pieces of paper with uplifting scripture, and with that we were ready to walk the 1.7 miles.
Leading up to the big day, we worried about getting angry looks or being ignored. However, we prayed, put on our t-shirts, and trusted in the Lord that many hearts would be touched during this walk.
While waiting for the parade to start, we experienced beautiful moments, all full of God's unfailing love. People came up to us to give testimony and share what God had done in their lives. Others came up to us and asked to take pictures. Onlookers had huge smiles on their faces, and were clearly pleased that a church was present in the day's festivities. Still others approached us just to say that they were very happy with our presence and have always felt that church groups should be part of the parade.
As we walked down the streets chanting that God lives and there is glory in His name, I truly felt His love in all different ways. I speak for our youth group in saying that we are grateful for such a beautiful experience. We are grateful that we were able to not only share the good news, but also have others share their lives with us. Going forward, we hope to continue having a presence at Latino events in the city, and we pray that others can see God's love through us.
ALABADO SEA DIOS!*
You can reach Pastor Lisa DePaz at the Iglesia Hispana de la Comunidad office at (617) 232-1416, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/IglesiaHispanaBoston
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