Day 2 of the ELCA Youth Gathering was a wonderfully informative day. We began with our “first 15,” which included a Bible study and discussion, exploring the theme for the day: “Rise up and Bear Burdens.” The rest of the afternoon, we proclaimed community in the interactive center at Cobo.
There, we visited the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service center, where we learned what life is currently like for the 65,000 children and youth from Central America who have sought refuge in the U.S. and wrote post-cards to them.
We learned what it is like to be a refugee from South Sudan at the Lutheran Disaster Response center.
When visiting the Peace not Walls center, we met our new friend, David, a Palestinian high school senior from the West Bank, who talked to us about the plight of Palestinians and shared with us personal stories.
And we learned a little about race in the U.S. and made commitments to work for racial justice.
Along the way, we ran into a few people…
ELCA Metro-Chicago Synod Bishop Wayne Miller
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Ngbarezere and Kalleb were even interviewed by someone from The Lutheran magazine!
We had some fun, too.
We went back to the Renaissance Center this evening to do more dancing. Then we headed to Ford Field for our mass gathering, where we rocked out to some awesome music and were inspired by spoken word. We heard from Luther Seminary professor, Eric Barreto, who talked about how God created and loves our differences and how diversity is the place where God acts most powerfully. And we heard from Alexia Salvatierra, who talked about the unjust American immigration system and shared powerful stories about the child/youth refugees from Central America. We also had a fun surprise: where Maku and John were featured on the big screen at the mass gathering!
Here is a reflection from Kalleb, a senior from Immanuel Lutheran Church:
“Day 2 was amazing. We learned about burdens and how burdens should be shared and not kept in. We came to realize that if burdens are shared with others, they will be lightened.
I enjoyed the dance today, where Val and I danced in front of many of the youths. It was great meeting so many people from different parts of the country and world. At ford field, it was amazing listening to spoken word, music, and inspirational speeches. I look forward to tomorrow and I’m loving Detroit. #RISE UP”
And here is a reflection from John, a ninth grader from Immanuel Lutheran Church:
“Today was the day we learned about bearing burdens. We were told burdens are basically like carrying a heavy weight on your back but instead it’s carried in your heart. And we heard a few stories on how those burdens came into people’s lives: like when four citizens destroyed the roof above them to get the paralyzed man to Jesus or when some guys were trying to immigrate to America. But then one got very ill, which made him more of a burden for the other people. He was thirsty, he was tired, and he just could not keep up, so they left him. He was slowly dying: his dehydration was killing him until he found a small puddle. He decided to drink from it, and it turned out the water was filled with bacteria. And he got more sick, and he just laid there to die. Until a group of four people picked him up and carried him to a highway where an emergency car got him. But then the immigration people got those four who helped the man, and they were deported. But before they left, a reporter asked: “why would you risk this and turn yourselves in like that?” They said: “cause we are Christian, and Christians carry each other.”
That all ties together with what we did today: finding out what to bring if we were brought to a refugee camp and when we found out about all the kids from Central America and about people who died from the acts of violence toward people because of race.
We also heard some great music at the mass gathering, met new people, and played fun games at the cobo center. Over all, it was fun.”