keyla-kirton-picThis September marked the third anniversary celebration of Chase Oaks en Español—which boasts to be the most diverse that it’s ever been!  I was thrilled to get the opportunity to attend this special event.

As I walked into the celebration service, the projector showed over 16 flags, representing all the nations the congregants call their first home.  Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, San Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, USA, Philippines, Chile, and Ecuador were all represented. I was pleasantly surprised that my homeland, Panama, was listed among the countries, and I felt right at home.

As I walked from the parking lot into the 201 building at the Legacy campus where En Español meets, I couldn’t help but notice the attendees carrying in cakes, balloons, and decorations, despite the wet weather that day.  Once the service began, it was a beautiful site, as I witnessed men, women, and children from a variety of ethnicities participating on both the worship team and in the congregation.

En-Espanol-Worship-TeamIf you haven’t had the privilege of visiting the En Español campus, in addition to the poignant sermon, you absolutely must do it for the music! The percussion and horn sections offer a live flair that creates for a fun and unique worship experience.  Popular tunes from artists like Martha Munizzi, Israel and New Breed, and Hezekiah Walker were sung in Spanish, which was impressive, as I had no idea translations were available.  And the Spanish words were projected on the screens so that people with varying proficiencies in Spanish could follow along.

Immediately after the service, Campus Pastor Armando Zuniga took the stage to welcome those in attendance and to share about the great things God has been doing for the past three years.  He shared about the incredible support from Pastor Jeff Jones, the Legacy campus, and all the Chase Oaks campuses.  This was important, as it reinforced that although this campus worships in a different language, we are all “Chase Oakers.”

My favorite moment of the service was the baptisms—similar to those at the other en-espanol-baptisms2campuses in that family members and friends are allowed to participate.  There were three individuals getting baptized that day—Mario, Diana, and Guadalupe.  They were asked if they had trusted in Jesus as their Savior, as the hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus,” played softly in the background.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Each of their family members huddled around them and asked them to repeat the confession.  I was particularly touched by the parents of Diana and Guadalupe, who had the privilege to baptize their children.  Their tears of joy were a testimony to the amazing work that Chase Oaks en Español is doing, not only in sharing the gospel, but transforming families.

After the baptism, three of the leaders took to the stage for a presentation about the church’s journey. They talked about their beginnings at the elementary school in East Plano, the Armando-Preachingdevelopment of the Chase Oaks Family Center which offers ESL classes, citizenship classes and family services for the East Plano community, and the impact it has made since moving their campus to the 201 building.

The festivities continued with gifts for those attending, as everyone was asked to look under their seats for a special treat!  Then it was time for the most important part of the worship service—the message.

Pastor Armando focused his sermon on the meaning of commitment.

“The word commitment means we’ve been given something valuable, and we have to take action concerning what was given,” Armando shared.  As a church, we are called to a commitment.

His illustration was about a chicken and a pig that were walking together. The chicken said, “Let’s give people eggs with bacon.” But the pig didn’t like the idea. “You have to contribute,” he said, “but I have to commit everything.”

“Many of us begin commitments with good intentions,” Pastor Armando continued. “We get married, but then leave halfway.  WE are not consistent in our commitments.”

Pastor Armando shared his own experience of being called to leave a successful business to become a pastor.
“Sometimes we don’t follow Jesus because we’re afraid to lose our reputation,” he continued.  “[But] our greatest victory is found in our trust in Him, and not in rejecting Him.”

Zuniga-FamilyNot too long ago, Armando owned a business that was successful in the Dallas area.  Newspapers documented his success, including a story that was aired on prime-time television.  During that time of his life, his energy was more directed to the business’ success than to his family. The pressures of not being successful in his country were great, and he feared being a failure. One day, he made the decision that enough was enough.  He decided to give himself to God and ever since that day, he began walking in God’s freedom.

After sharing the sermon, he asked those who were committed to Chase Oaks en Español along with his wife, Sharone, and one by one, he called the leaders and attendees to stand together with him.  Before we knew it, everyone was standing up.

“Pray for us so we can take the gospel around the world,” he said. “Pray with us that the spirit of God will guide us.”

And so we did.  We read Psalm 86:11 together as a symbol of our commitment.

Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
Give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

The service closed with a lively rendition of Israel Haughton’s, “We Worship You.” 

After the service, refreshments were provided. Actually, the word “refreshments” does not even begin to express the immense spread ranging from salad, fruits, dips, to international home-made dishes—all of which I didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy because I took some time to meet some great folks.

En Espanol Anniversary Feast Collage

I hung around to meet the worship team members. Angela Johnson, wife of Legacy Worship Pastor, Tyrone Johnson, stopped and shared about her commitment to the En Español campus, despite her increasing proficiency in Spanish. She’s not fluent, but would like to be. She was attracted to the campus by the people and the sense of family. She was encouraged to join the worship team and now sings there regularly.

I also met Mark and Mallin. Mark works with the sound system. Mallin is a faithful attendee and volunteers in various capacities.  As I was chatting with them, my husband walked in and the four of us talked and joked until all the refreshments were practically finished.  It felt so much like we were friends and not at all like we had just met. We talked about challenges relocating to Texas, the housing market, raising children, marriage, and work.

If you’ve never had the privilege to attend the service, please do. Chase Oakers, you will be proud of how your support and prayers go a long way in helping this vibrant campus reach those who need Jesus.  No Spanish language proficiency required, as they have translation services provided via headsets.

In the meantime, please pray that God will help them develop new servant-leaders and disciples through groups and teams. Chase Oaks En Español is still a Chase Oaks Church, and just as dynamic, fervent, cutting-edge and impactful as ever.  Check the link below to read some amazing testimonials of those who have been impacted by Chase Oaks En Español!