Sunday, September 19, 2004

why youth ministry is the greatest thing to do ever

hurricane ivan scared a bunch of people around here and started a MASS evacuation from new orleans, which is below sea level. tuesday afternoon i received a phone call from a run-away teen shelter in new orleans asking if they could stay with us. i told them that would be great but i would have to check with our pastor of administration first. turns out he had already told the red cross that we would gladly be a shelter for any needs that the red cross had - they put us as a secondary shelter asking that we stay open, ready, and available for them - most likely to be a meals location. this meant we had to be open for the red cross and i had to call the shelter back and tell them we couldn't. turns out this wasn't a problem because within the 10 minutes it took me to find out we couldn't host them and then call them back they had already received a call from a camp in texas saying they could stay there. i was pretty disappointed. i really wanted to be a part of helping them.

wednesday morning i went to substitute teach in our church school. druing the day my administrative assistant came running into class with a smile on her face and said "they're here!"


"the teens from the shelter ... and the have babies!" she was extrememly excited about the chance to help the teens and the chance to hold the babies.

it turns out that they had left new orleans soon after our conversation the previous day and it had taken them 13 hours to make the usual 1 hour trip from new orleans to baton rouge. they needed a break, saw the church, and thought "they'll help".

this was great. what was even better was that my leadership team, teens, and parents had already stepped into action. some of them had driven by at the right time, noticed the vans, and stopped to ask what was up. before i could ever get over to see out visitors (it took me about 30 minutes) our parents, kids, and leadership had already taken care of them. food was found. toiletries were brought. diapers were purchased. it was all done before i could even get over there. everyone encouraged them to stay and rest as long as they wanted to and every need was met. i was actually a little disappointed because all i actually got to do was go buy some water - every other need was met before i ever got there. these teens and their leader were refreshed and it wasn't because we had set up a program or trip for the adults and teens. nope they saw the need and decided for the glory of CHRIST they needed to do something about it. 7 hours later they left to finish their trip.

this would have been good enough but there was more. after our youth service last night i received a call from one of our youth. he said he had just heard from a former boss at jason's deli that help was needed in making meals for emergency workers in the area east of us that don't have power. he had already called some of our youth and wanted to know if i wanted to come. "sure" i said and i told him i could get some more.

"nope. i'll take care of that. you just come if you want to." is what he told me. today i took my wife and kids with me to the warehouse to find that 15 youth were already there making 3,500 meals. they had set the whole thing up. they called. they organized. they reacted.

i am not sure i have ever been so proud.

they get it!


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