First Bilingual Retreat in Merged Spanish English Church: Forge Lasting Friendships

Date Posted: 4/25/2019

By Lindsay Peyton - En Español

Crossroads UMC recently hosted its first-ever bilingual women’s retreat. The church, which was born when Cokesbury and ChristWay joined in 2015, takes pride in being multicultural and serving multiple generations.  One of the ministry’s goals is to unite members across all lines.
Karina Martinez, wife of Crossroads senior pastor Cesar Martinez, enjoys working with the women of the church. “I had a call to God too,” she said. “We’re a team.”
She explained that Crossroads isn’t a typical church. Spanish and English services are part of every Sunday schedule. Every fives weeks, they combine for a completely bilingual sermon. Sunday school is also offered in both Spanish and English.
“This church is bilingual, and it’s kind of unique,” Martinez said. “Everyone has their own service, and then we have one together.”
Still, she wanted to do more to unite Spanish and English speaking members. She decided to plan a women’s retreat and spent the past six months preparing for the event.
Martinez recently led a group of 32 women to Galveston for prayer, relaxation and fun that crossed languages and cultural barriers.
The theme for Crossroads’ first women’s bilingual retreat was sparkling hearts. The weekend helped forge lasting friendships for participants.

“We worshiped together and prayed together,” Martinez said. “We ate together and shared rooms together.”
The only time the groups separated by language was for bible studies.
Martinez also hosted a “secret friend” game, where each woman chose another and connected.
“Everybody said something nice about their friends and gave them a hug,” Martinez said. “It created more unity. People got to know each other.”

Now that the women are back in Houston, Martinez has already seen secret friends seeking each other out on Sundays.
“They didn’t have that connection before,” she said.
Laura Bradley said that was exactly why she signed up for the retreat. “I wanted to get to meet the people I don’t know,” she said.
Her friend ended up being someone from the Spanish community. “It was someone I had seen around before, but did not know,” Bradley said. “Now I can talk to her in the halls.”

Bradley said that she learned a lot from the retreat’s sermon. “It was all about hearts and love and how to make Bible study more meaningful,” she said.
Deyanira Silva joined Crossroads six months ago to attend the same church as her fiancé. She invited her future mother-in-law to go on the retreat with her.
“It was really well organized,” Silva said. “They did a good job getting everyone to get to know each other. I really loved the worship, too. I felt the Holy Spirit was there with us.”

Silva attended the Spanish Bible study with her future mother-in-law. “I didn’t know a lot of the ladies in the Spanish group,” She said. “ We did an ice breaker, and I formed a lot of friendships.”
Silva hopes that the retreat becomes an annual event at Crossroads. “You leave uplifted and convicted,” she said. “It really helps you grow in your walk with the Lord.”