This Festival Breaks Down the Language Barrier

By   •   June 14, 2011

There is no formula on how to reach the Hispanic youth in the United States for Christ.

The situation is unique, to say the least.

But talking to Hispanics using their native language is one way to eliminate some of the potential barriers.

“You gotta minister to them in their language,” said Danna Garza, youth pastor at Templo Calvario. “In their setting, in their culture.”

And that’s the mission of Festival de Esperanza, ministering to the Spanish-speaking population of the Los Angeles area, bridging the language gap by bringing in Spanish music and a translator for Franklin Graham’s messages.

“I think that for cultural reasons and for spiritual reasons,” said pastor Isaac Canales said. “That when people hear something in their own language, they connect immediately with it.  That develops trust in the message.”

To that end, Franklin Graham takes extra time to prepare his message with the translator he’ll be working with. Graham and the translator will talk through Biblical points, illustrations and key words, working through any potential difficulties in the translation process, including the preaching style and invitation.

“I just wanna reach these kids for Christ,” said Ryan Reis, son of pastor Raul Reis of Calvary Chapel. “And reach ’em in a language that they understand.”

But the challenge with the young Hispanics in Los Angeles is that while they may be fluent in English or bi-lingual, their parents or grandparents speak mostly Spanish. One study reveals that 76 percent of the Hispanic households in Los Angeles speak Spanish in the home.

“You have young people that need to hear the Gospel in Spanish, in their language,” Garza said. “And then you have also second generation, third generation, that although they understand Spanish, they want to hear the Gospel in English.”

So the Festival de Esperanza will be a mix of both languages. Some of the musical performers will sing in English, some in Spanish, some both.

“By bringing music, number one, that’s the first language they understand,” Reis said. “They’ll come to listen to the music and then they’ll get the Gospel there and the Word never comes back void.”

Live Webcast from Los Angeles

Log onto to watch a live webcast of Festival de Esperanza on June 25 at 7 p.m. (4 p.m. Pacific) and June 26 at 5 p.m. (2 p.m. Pacific).


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