Who am I? Am I one of a foreign people or am I part of the privileged majority? Am I that different from lighter or darker skinned people? Do I need to be bilingual or can I just speak solo un lenguaje? Who are my brothers and my sisters? I ask again, ¿Quién soy? These are some of the questions I ask myself as a member of the Latino community as I live in the predominant Anglo culture of the college campus.
In order to help Latino students like myself find their way through this bicultural experience, InterVarsity sponsored a LaFe Conference in Oakland, California, using the life of Moses as a guide to explore the Latino experience of God and faith.
I have been to various InterVarsity conferences, both local and national, but never before experienced a close bond with over 50 college students. Friday evening we arrived as strangers; only a few hours later, rejoicing with our long lost siblings. This bond may have developed as a result of the hospitable environment of the conference, it would have been impossible without a common commitment to Jesus Christ.
Saturday arrived with a traditional Mexican breakfast – huevos, chorizo, and tortillas. We spent the day discovering our Latino identity, learning how to be active agents for justice, and exploring the relationship between Catholics and Evangelicals. We discussed the differences between Catholics and Evangelicals and discovered that these differences did not divide us, for we share the essentials of our faith: loving god and serving others in response to his love.
Saturday evening, Pastor Alejandro Juarez challenged us to lay our crowns down before the King. In response to this challenge, we placed our insecurities, relationships, and identity at the feet of Christ. We came to realize that who we are is much deeper than our ethnic identity—it involves our membership in God’s family.
Since we now had a true reason to celebrate, the night did not end there. The lights dimmed and the stereo volume was raised. We celebrated our royalty in Christ to the beats of salsa and merengue.
I arrived back on campus with a better understanding and love for my life as a Latino in the United States. I have come to realize how Jesus desires to use me on my campus to help my Latino brothers and sisters understand their identity and culture through the eyes of God. I am not sure what direction this commitment might take me, but I do know God is leading the way.
NOTE: The National La Fe Conference will be held in December 2004 in San Diego, California. Over 150 Latino college students will gather from all over the U.S. to explore their identity as they look at the life of Esther for biblical guidance. For more information go to the LaFe website.