Change Maker conference empowers students to grow in faith


Blessie Kurpati remembers strapping Bibles to her body as a young girl, covering them in an oversized dress and running through the airport to smuggle the precious books into the Middle Eastern country where her family lived. As she shared her testimony in front of 2,400 at the Texas Baptists’ Change Maker Student Conference powered by Congreso, she challenged students not to let fear dictate how they followed Jesus. 

“I want to encourage you to take advantage of the freedom we have in America to spread the Gospel,” Kurpati said. “Let God break your heart for what breaks His and reach out to your neighbors, your friends, your classmates and even your family!”

Throughout the event held at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center, speakers, worship leaders and music artists shared with students what it means to be a changemaker within their sphere of influence. 

Church planter DA Horton, from Los Angeles, preached from John 4, sharing of Jesus’ interaction with an outcast of society. 

“If we want to be change makers, we have to understand the change that Jesus is,” Horton said. 

Providing the context for the familiar Biblical story of the woman at the well, Horton described how the ethnic tensions, time of day and the woman’s station in life, all made Jesus’ address surprising and noteworthy. Despite knowing all of her background, Jesus desired a relationship with her. As he shared about living water, she understood the significance and desired what he was offering. 

“The reality is, Jesus is saying the same to us,” he said. “Jesus says, ‘I know all of your dirt but I'm ready to wash you and make you clean with my living water.’”

Following Horton’s address, he encouraged those who had not yet given their lives to Christ to come forward for prayer. Students flooded the aisles in response to the call. 

“It touched my heart to see how many students responded to the Gospel, to come and drink the living water of Christ, to see the young people moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted of sin, crying out for Jesus to save them,” Horton said. 

Two hundred and five students made professions of faith over the course of the weekend, along with 156 who re-dedicated their lives to Christ, and 39 who felt called to full-time ministry.

Saturday afternoon, more than 1,200 students spread out across the community of Waco engaged in mission work. Students hosted backyard Bible clubs at local apartment complexes, ran in a 5k fun run with Mission Waco, helped with yard work, played games with residents at senior living facilities and a variety of additional projects.

“When I think Texas Baptists, this is what I think of – Congreso,” said Jordan Villanueva, youth minister at Grace Temple Baptist Church in Oak Cliff. “I’m here with youth ministers, individuals I went to school with, and others I have met in the past few months. We are all coming together with our churches, and we are worshipping together, serving together, helping each other out when need be. It’s just being the body, while we are individual members in our communities, we are coming together as Texas Baptists.”

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