New Orleans experiences ABHMS-inspired ‘Youthquake’
While community mission work is a regular aspect of the program, Choy-Wong aspired to “bigger” mission outside California for Youthquake’s fifth anniversary. Thus, youth from four Youthquake churches—New Life Christian Fellowship; Iu-Mien Friendship Baptist Church, Richmond; Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland; and First Baptist Church, Alameda—traveled to the hurricane-ravaged city to help with rebuilding efforts.
“For many of these youth, there are a lot of ‘firsts’ on this trip—their first mission trip outside the [California] Bay area, their first time outside the state and their first time away from parents,” said the Rev. Karen Yee, a Youthquake leader and associate pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship.
Including adults, 43 Youthquake-affiliated individuals participated in various volunteer capacities across the Big Easy.
In the back yard of one New Orleans home, Kalani Lewis and Logan Tom, both 16 and of New Life Christian Fellowship, and Xian Saecha, 18, of Iu-Mien Friendship Baptist Church, relocated piles of fire ant-infested hefty wooden beams that had been left by a contractor.
“Contractors are horrible in this city. Everyone has problems with them,” said Mirenka Fountain, 63, the homeowner’s mother, who remained onsite with volunteers. “They take your money, and then they’re gone.”
Lewis said his motivation to volunteer was to assist those who otherwise would not receive help.
“That’s not how you want to live—with a broken-down house,” he added. “Some people aren’t strong enough to help themselves.”
Meanwhile, inside the home, other Youthquake volunteers dusted, swept and cleaned.
“We should be more helpful in our country,” said Vithem Rumthao, 13, of New Life Christian Fellowship, as she washed the refrigerator’s interior. “Helping each other bonds our relationship, and I feel that’s something we all need.”
During the effort’s closing gathering at Camp Restore, New Orleans, Choy-Wong told those assembled that Youthquake—especially the mission aspect—was inspired by “Immerse,” ABHMS’ 2012 national youth gathering in Washington, D.C.
Explaining to this writer that a Youthquake program existed years ago, Yee referred to the current Youthquake as “Youthquake 2.0.”
“Katie [Choy-Wong] and I are products of the old Youthquake,” Yee noted.
Continuing her closing presentation, Choy-Wong said that Youthquake’s purpose is for youth “to get to know each other across churches, to do mission work in the community and to bring different ethnicities together—so our children don’t carry on what’s been going on [the racist violence] in our world.”
“Our young people,” concluded Choy-Wong, “have really grown from this great experience.”
To meet more of 2016’s “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” volunteers and those they’ve helped, see the following:
- ABHMS continues ‘Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done’ 11 years after hurricanes devastate New Orleans