Article by Urban Alliance staff.
What do you get when you combine an all-night carnival, food, a live concert, skating, bowling, laser tag and swimming? Or how about impactful skits, miming, student-led music, lots of laughter and colorful strobe lights? The answer: events that – no wonder – are drawing in thousands of teens.
But it’s not just about the numbers. In fact, it’s about only one – the One. The common thread of both Overtime and Youth Explosion events are that they are centered on Christ, and in doing so are helping teens to grow in their faith and their relationships with each other.
Overtime, an all-night, safe and exciting yearly event that includes a variety of activities, has shared Christ with thousands of students since 2005. Born out of a partnership between youth leaders in Southeastern Connecticut who joined forces to reach students with the Gospel, Overtime was “created to make available an event that is relevant to both Christians and non-Christians kids alike,” explained Tom Miyashiro, founder of Faith 2 Faith Ministries International.
Youth Explosion, a free bi-monthly event that brings youth together at various local churches, includes skits, youth-led music and worship and other performances. Also born from a partnership between several local church leaders, Youth Explosion was created to inspire teens to live boldly in their faith by providing opportunities for them to join together, build relationships, and creatively express their love for Christ.
Every other month, hosting teen groups work together to plan Youth Explosions based on a theme they choose. Past themes have broached the subject of peer pressure, temptation and other social pressures that teens are facing. The themes, which always link back to Biblical truths and include a message from a guest speaker, help to encourage teens to talk about common struggles and to build supportive relationships with each other, centered on the Lord.
“I have built many relationships and I can trust a lot more people now because they understand what a Christian teen goes through and struggles with,” shared Genesis Cordero, a teen who has been attending Youth Explosion for two years.
A’Liyah Postell added that Youth Explosion has helped her make Christian friends who “sometimes have the same struggles” she’s having, and LeAndra Reid shared, “Youth Explosion has helped me to build relationships by interacting with different groups and getting to know everyone on a deeper level.”
“Youth Explosion helps me build relationships and helps me meet people I can trust,” said teen Orlando Perez.
In fact, a key ingredient to both Overtime and Youth Explosion are that they provide ways for youth to build ongoing, supportive relationships. When youth are given opportunities to build relationships that are fostered and supported by caring adult role models and through encouraging environments, like Overtime and Youth Explosion, opportunities for growth, personal success, emotional wellbeing and leadership are significantly increased.
And, success comes with continued support for youth between events.
“Overtime is more than an all-night activity. It includes a 5 Friend Challenge Tour than visits youth groups and mobilizes students to share the Gospel before Overtime. Some years, we bolt on assembly tours that visit schools with character education messages. This year we are introducing Youth Alpha, a course designed to help students answer big life questions about God, Jesus, the Bible and faith,” said Miyashiro.
One of the goals of Youth Explosion is to help youth to build relationships throughout the year, both through several Youth Explosion events and a yearly weekend retreat.
Karla Cruz, Youth Pastor at House of Praise and Worship explains, “After the yearly retreats, our youth are so excited for the next retreat because they love the time spent together. We feel that in order to maintain that beautiful flame, we need to connect…together throughout the year. We want to help the fire for God to continue to burn in their hearts throughout the year.”
Overtime encourages youth to reach other youth by sharing their faith. “Overtime is a place where we see students reaching students with the Gospel, which is even more exciting than when our organizational leaders and guest speakers have the opportunity to share,” said Miyashiro.
And Youth Explosion is no different, and as teen William Cordero explained, “My favorite part is being on fire for God. It’s powerful in the atmosphere, impacting and bringing hope to people’s lives.”
This year’s Overtime event will take place on Friday, November 8 at Connecticut College, and starts at 6:00pm. For more information on how to sign up a youth group or about the event, contact Kyle Duba at (831) OVR-TIME or (831) 687-8463, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Overtime relies on about 120 volunteers for each event, is also seeking volunteers to help with this year’s carnival. To learn more about volunteering at Overtime, contact Urban Alliance by clicking here.
The next Youth Explosion will be held on Friday, November 22 at 7:00pm at Jesus the Everlasting Fountain Church at 114 Wooster Street, Hartford, and is open to any and all who would like to attend. To learn more about Youth Explosion or for information about attending, contact Urban Alliance at email@example.com or House of Praise and Worship at firstname.lastname@example.org.