Thousands gather for ‘deliverance’

Thousands gather for ‘deliverance’
Three out of 266 events in nation being held locally
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Mike Baird/Caller-Times

Ramiro Baca of Laredo speaks at the District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the American Bank Center Saturday.

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Jehovah’s witnesses convention

What: 2006 “Deliverance at Hand!” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Where: American Bank Center, 1901 N. Shoreline Blvd.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. today; 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:05 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27

Information: (956) 423-363

By Israel Saenz Caller-Times
August 20, 2006

For Hazel Cantu, the language of God is universal. She is just more comfortable when it is in Spanish.

“I have always lived among Spanish speakers, so I can understand things a lot better in that language,” she said.

The 24-year-old bank worker from Los Fresnos was one of 4,900 attendees Saturday at the 2006 “Deliverance at Hand!” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the American Bank Center. In its second weekend, organizers said they expect the all-Spanish event to draw around 16,000 people. The convention will run through today and next weekend.

The events include talks in the morning and afternoon, along with Saturday morning baptisms.

The local conventions are three of 266 being held in 72 cities nationwide from May through August. While events in other areas of the country are held in English, Jehovah’s Witness elder William Keltner said bringing only Spanish speakers for the convention was a way to reach out to Hispanics in the Coastal Bend and the Rio Grande Valley.

“(The convention) is all in Spanish because of the needs of this area,” Keltner said. “We share what we know in a language they understand.”

Talks have focused on different aspects of the faith each day. On Saturday, speakers shared beliefs about resisting temptation. It is a lesson Cantu, whose parents and three older brothers are also Jehovah’s Witnesses, said has guided her to becoming a good person.

“If you do what the Bible says, it keeps you from suffering and from lifestyles that could harm us,” she said. “It is a protection.”

Keltner projected around 5,000 people would attend today’s event.

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