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Hispanic crusade to draw thousands in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–An area-wide crusade for Hispanics planned for June 12-14 in Salt Lake City will be an integral part of Southern Baptists’ Crossover Salt Lake City evangelistic effort. Organizers anticipate crowds of more than 10,000 on the final evening in the 12,000-seat Franklin Quest Field.
“We don’t have that many Hispanic churches in Salt Lake City, and out of this we’re hoping to establish several,” said William Ortega, a catalytic missionary for Hispanics serving with the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board.
“We’ve already got places picked out where we are going to establish Bible studies. If it goes like we think it’s going to go, there are going to be a lot of new opportunities to start more Hispanic missions.”
The crusade, with a theme of “Jesus Christ for Everyone,” is the first major evangelistic event ever held in the city for Hispanics, Ortega said.
The key drawing card is the hugely popular Mexican pop singer Yuri, who about two years ago committed her life to Christ. During the first two nights of the crusade, to be held in a 3,000-seat auditorium at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, she will perform for about 30 minutes before a message by Ortega. The final night, in the baseball stadium, she will perform an entire concert and share her testimony, Ortega said.
“We expect to fill that stadium,” Ortega said. “We are planning to invite the Mexican consul and the mayor for the city to be there.”
The crusade will be the culmination of a week-long Crossover effort for Hispanics and other language congregations in Salt Lake City that begins June 5 and continues through the June 9-11 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. Part of the overall Crossover effort, the Hispanic projects include block parties, sports clinics and other evangelistic activities.
Ortega said there are about 200,000 Hispanics among more than 1.5 million residents of the Wasatch Front, a section of northern Utah running from Provo in the south through the Salt Lake Valley to north of Ogden.
Like the rest of the region, the Hispanic community has come under considerable influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), Ortega said. Hispanic immigrants often are embraced with comprehensive immigration and resettlement assistance if they join the LDS church, according to Herman Rios, director of language evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention and a member of the national task force coordinating Crossover.
“The Mormons may lose the first-generation (Hispanic) adults,” Rios said, “but they have access to their children.”
Taking the lead in the crusade and other Crossover efforts are 12 church-sponsored Hispanic missions in Utah and four in Idaho that are a part of the regional convention, although they will be assisted by other volunteers from around the country.
Preparation among the language churches has been intense, Ortega said, beginning with a 100-day period of prayer on Feb. 26. In a 40-day period of fasting that began April 26, individuals were asked to fast one meal a day, one day a week, several days a week or however they felt led to participate.
In addition to the two or three new Hispanic churches, Ortega said organizers hope the crusade will strengthen and ignite a growing passion for evangelism among all Hispanic churches and contribute to spiritual awakening in Utah and Idaho.

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  • James Dotson