Friday, July 31, 2009

Jesus, Justice and Jazz '09

New Orleans was amazing. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like it. We had worship in the Superdome. Listening to all 38,000 of us singing with the house band was an incredibly moving experience. There was a crazy amount of conga lines going. And SO MUCH DANCING!!!! My favorite song by far was He Lifts You Up by Audio Adrenaline

The week wasn't just about worship, but about service as well. My group helped to paint Room 310 in the Charles R. Drew Elementary School. It was a lot of work and by lunch most of us were in horrible moods, but in the end it was well worth it. We also got to know the guy in charge of the renovations on the school. His name is Troy. He hasn't left NOLA in over 4 years. He lost everything in Katrina, but is still working to get more and more schools open. He really is an incredible man.

Speaking of Katrina, you would be amazed how much is left to be done in the recovery from the storms of that fall. Everywhere we went there were houses and other buildings that are STILL boarded up. It's been 4 years since Katrina and Rita hit the gulf, and the levy broke. It is amazing how much work there is left to do. I mean, there are families still living in FEMA trailers. I know they wouldn't stand a chance with out them, but the trailers are smaller than my dorm room in Woodlawn. That is great for a short term fix, but not for as long as these people have been forced to live in them. There just isn't the man power to rebuild any faster than they are.

One of the things that was so cool about this trip was seeing how the 38,000 of us were such a presence in the city. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing some high schoolers wearing brightly colored t-shirts. It was incredible. We descended on that city like a swarm of non-destructive locust. The mayor of NOLA told us that the amount of we would accomplish in 3 days would take the city 3 years to complete normally.

In the mass gatherings we would have worship, then would listen to different speakers. It was really cool. I picked up on the recurring theme of how one person can change the world. It was an awesome time of affirmation for me. There was one speaker who literally said to not lose our idealism. That is something I needed to hear. It was also really cool how the Superdome was full of other people who are committed to changing the world.

I've been home from New Orleans for about 5 days now. I've spent those days resting and unpacking from the trip. Even still, I get really fired up thinking about the trip. I am so thankful I was able to go. It was most definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Orleans

As of 2 hours ago I decided to go to New Orleans for the ELCA National Youth Gathering. Joyce called and told me she had an extra stop, and after about 20 minutes of talking with mom and dad about it they said they are cool with me going. So, I'll be in New Orleans for the next week. I'm pretty pumped, since I've never been there. Also, Kate will be there and other people from Witt. It will be great. I'll take pics and update when I get back. Hope you all have a great week!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Are you Growing, or Are you Dying?

“He really is out there, isn't he? We've got to be able to defend ourselves. And if Umbridge refuses to teach us how, we need someone who will.” –Hermione Granger

I love this line in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. For those of you who are not familiar with the plot of the movie/book allow me to explain. Voldemort is back and gaining power. The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is denying the return of Voldemort and is increasingly paranoid that Dumbledore and Harry are going to create and army and over throw the Ministry. Because of this fear Fudge have placed Dolores Umbridge in Hogwarts as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She refuses to allow the student to use magic to practice the defense spells per Fudge’s orders. Harry and friends realize the folly in this choice, and they decide to take action.

That line says exactly how I feel about many things, including church. Though there isn’t a physical enemy we, as Christians, are supposed to fight, there is an “enemy”. We are supposed to fight against evil. I don’t know if you believe in a literal Devil, or just a figurative one, but either way we are instructed to continue to grow in Christ and not let evil get the upper hand in our lives. We are to not get discouraged, but rather put our hope in Christ Jesus; through whom all things are possible.

I do not believe that we have any excuses when we do not grow. We cannot blame our lack of growth on a bad youth program, or any other excuses you may be tempted to use. Just like in the movie, we are allowed to take matters into our own hands. Keep in mind, those in charge of the youth program are not against us. If the complaints are brought to those in charge as constructive criticism they will listen. I have faith that our leaders will not take offence as long as we are not insulting to them.

Some of you may be saying that you are too young, or the they won’t listen to you because you are only x# of years old. To this I say, rubbish! As it says in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” We are, as young people, told to stand up for what we know is right. If we aren’t growing in our faith, we need to do something about it. As I said before, we can talk to the leaders, or start up a Bible study of our own.

All of this to say that we, as young Christians, are not powerless in our growth In Christ. Recently I had been reminded that if something is not growing then it is dying. Please, I beg you; do not let that happen to you. I know we can do this. Trust God to show us the best way to approach this challenge. He will not let us down.