SLA Spring Student Week of Prayer Commences

Courtesy of Yearbook

Courtesy of Yearbook

On the week of April 8-12, South Lancaster Academy began our spring week of prayer featuring Pastor Jose Cortes as our speaker. After starting out each daily service with a couple of songs from praise team and ending with our theme song, The Revelation Song, Pastor Cortez presents his sermon to us. Everyday, he puts a lot of thought into his words and lets God speak through him, resulting with positive feedback every time.

The theme for the week is compassion, and on day one, he spoke about God’s love. God loves us no matter what we do, so we should never feel like our negative actions could ever drive him away from us. We can spit in his face a million times, but he’ll love us in a million ways.

He proceeded to tell us the story of his three year old little boy, and his reaction to receiving a present he didn’t like. He was angrily fuming about receiving a big Buzz Lightyear when he wanted a little one, because he said big Buzz Lightyear toys were for big boys, and he was little. His dad tried to calm him down, he tried explaining that sometimes in life we get things we don’t want, but we should always make good come out of them. The little boy disagreed, saying that when you get something you don’t want, you should throw it away, and go after what you want. He told his dad he was going to walk to New Jersey, where his grandfather lived, from New York, where they currently lived, because he knew his grandfather would get him the toy he wanted. His dad let him angrily stomp off towards the street at the end of their drive way, on the road towards New Jersey. A few minutes later, his son returned home with a surrendered look, ashamed. He quietly explained that he realized New Jersey was really far, and asked if he could come back home. His dad smiled at him, pulling him in a hug, and told him he’d always, always take him back. That’s what God is for us. Whenever we walk away from Him and stray from His path, He will always always be right behind us waiting with open arms to take us back home.

The second day he spoke about accepting people who are different. Just because someone may not attract us, and we might think that they’re weird, gives us no right to put them aside and stomp on them. Everyone is valuable to God, he died for every single being who has ever walked on this earth, and the ones who are yet to walk on it.

He told the story of a young man at a library, searching for a book. He found one with hand written notes on the sides of pages, and he was intrigued by the beautiful way the person wrote. The book had only been checked out once, and he went and asked a librarian what the name of the person was who had checked out the book. Even though they weren’t supposed to, they gave him the name, address, and phone number of the lady who’s hand writing was in the book. The guy went home all excited and wrote his first letter to the girl. A short while later, he was drafted to fight in Europe during World War II. He continued writing with this lady for two years, and she was encouraging and uplifting, helping him get through his worst days. He wanted so badly meet her, to see what she looked like. She refused to send him a picture of her, saying that friendship should not be based on appearance but what lives in the heart. She did agree to meet with him as soon as he came back, and he asked her how he would recognize her if he didn’t know what she looked like. She told him she’d be wearing a rose on her dress.  When he arrived at the place they agreed to meet, he was walking aimlessly, looking for the girl with the rose. While he was searching, he was side tracked by this gorgeous woman. She had long blond hair and beautiful blue sparkling eyes, and she wore a green dress. He walked up to her, but she quickly said, “Excuse me, officer”, and walked off behind him. He couldn’t let go off her in his thoughts, but he kept his search for the girl he came to find. Suddenly, he saw an old woman. She wore an old, gray dress. Her hair was messed up. The hat she wore was falling apart. And sure enough, she wore a rose on her dress. His heart shattered, his thoughts began to battle. He considered just walking away, but the greater part of him wanted to meet this amazing woman who had helped him so much and had been there when he needed someone the most. He walked up to her, and thanked her for her words, and for giving him someone to talk to and for lifting him up for those long years he was in war. He asked her to please join him for lunch at the diner across the street. She looked up at him and smiled, and said, “Sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about. This lady with a green dress gave me this rose, and asked me if a man came and asked me out to lunch today, to send him to the diner across the street.”

Basically, this story teaches us to not turn people away because they might not seem interesting to us, or  because we may not necessarily care about them. There is good and amazing qualities in every single person God took the time to mold and place with you, so when you push someone aside you’re missing out on a piece of greatness, and you’d never even know.

On day three, the sermon sort of followed along with the previous one. He was saying how we should be accepting of everyone, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone based on their way of being or presenting them self. We don’t know what everyone else is going through, there is a reason why everyone is the way they are. Just because that reason is unknown to us is no reason to judge them, point out their deflections, and put them down to lift ourselves up. Life is a big pool of people who are all fighting to stay afloat. Unfortunately, sometimes staying afloat results in pushing someone else under water, cutting their oxygen, using them to hoist ourselves up, to get higher.

An exclusive interview was held with the speaker, and the following questions were asked:
Q: What’s your goal for the week?
A: “To help students see the need to be compassionate.”

Q: Why did you choose this topic for the week?
A: The biggest need in schools, in communities, is compassion. I mean, we can say things but not live them, and we should try and make life better for everybody.

Q: What are your feelings on this week so far?
A: I’m enjoying my self a lot. SLA students are awesome. I love the feedback. At times things are quiet and I know it’s sinking in and I love the way it’s going. The prayer circle we make after services really hits close to my heart. It hurts to see so many needs but at the same time I’m glad we can be there and pray for them.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?
A: It’s awesome! I love getting to go places and traveling the North East and Bermuda. I love meeting youth and young adults who are happy, love Jesus, and are willing to make a difference for God. I love seeing passion for God and energy. My whole job is like that, it’s the best job in the world.

Q: Do you plan to do anything with SLA in the near future?
A: I’m here at Atlantic Union and I serve all youth. That’s more than 50,000. SLA is basically in my backyard so, by all means, whenever they need me.

On day four, he spoke about visions and dreams. He called several students up to share what they saw for themselves in the future. Some said they wanted to be pastors, nurses, journalists, some said they didn’t have any – but that’s okay. We all find what we’re meant to do sooner or later. Being an adolescent is all about traveling a journey to find who you are, what you want for yourself, and there’s always light at the end of it.

On our last day, he shared with us the story of how he met his wife. He was currently dating a girlfriend his parents didn’t really like, and his dad, also a pastor, was directing a week of prayer at their church. The pastor preaching that week had a daughter who intrigued his dad, and he asked for her e-mail to give his son. After Cortez’s relationship with his current girlfriend faded, he began e-mailing this girl his dad insisted he speak to. After a couple conversations, he realized he loved speaking to her. They always had something to say, and more to know about each other. They exchanged pictures and kept talking until the day they met. He’s now married to her, and they’ve been happily together ever since. We ended the week with an anointing session, and you could see God working and molding everyone in the room.

This week of prayer has impacted many students, and some shared their feedback.

“This week of prayer made a huge impact on my life and I have been extremely blessed by the message this week and pastor Cortez is very compassionate,” Sophomore Nawal Habib replied. “The anointing service on Friday was very special – it brought me closer to God and made me finally make the decision to live for Christ for the rest of my life. And I feel like that whole week God was working through many people and not just the Pastor but the students were there for each other every day and there was so much compassion and kindness for one another in the room. ”

“I thought it was a great experience and I felt like many people, myself included, were blessed by what Pastor Cortez had to say. I hope that the spiritual atmosphere that I felt during parts of week of prayer stays.” Junior Brandon Beneche said.

Judging from these responses, week of prayer has definitely been one of the greater spiritual successes this year. Everyone spends their lives looking and searching for love, but God is love. So without even knowing, we’re desperate for him, to find him, and to be cradled into the being who loved us the most. He’s never far away, and he’s waiting for us to let him into our hearts.


Posted on April 17, 2013, in Top Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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