Raising the roof of God’s house

Dianne Nance of Clovis praises the Lord during the First Church of God in Christ annual Youth Crusade Wednesday evening at the church in Clovis. Nance is the youth minister at the church. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer

Music and praise spilled into the streets Wednesday night from First Church of God in Christ.

This is the house where Bishop W. Charles Green Sr. began the Youth Crusade, a program designed to bring youth off the streets and into church more than 25 years ago.

“This is an annual event to help young people with the challenges they are given every day,” Green said. “To guide them in their educational and spiritual goals.”

Mostly members of the church attended Wednesday night, but as the weekend nears, more people from the community and surrounding areas will gather at the church to feel the spirit of the Lord, according to the church’s public relations person Frances Rhoden.

“It’s like vacation Bible school,” she said. “We teach the children about faith and salvation, fasting and prayer — things like that. But there’s more.”

More as in the music and interaction between the young people.

“We do a lot of singing,” Rhoden said.

One by one the adults from the congregation walk through the church’s front doors Wednesday greeted by the rat-a-tat-tat of the drums and the screaming organ a few “amens” and “hallelujahs.” Inside they were dancing and singing as the youth enthusiastically lead the congregation.

“That’s the best part,” said Kanisha Beachum, 15, who said she grew up in the Vinton Street church. “On Sundays, the adults lead us in prayer and choir. This is our turn to get to do all that.”

Beachum said she has attended the Youth Crusade, which is not just for youngsters but adults as well, ever since she could remember. She sings in the youth choir and dances with the youth spirit team like many of the children and teens attending the weekend Crusade.

“God is in the building tonight,” Youth Minister Dianne Nance exclaimed. “We have to let these young people know they are loved and that God has a purpose for them.”

By the end of the night the pews had filled. With all the singing and dancing, Elder Benjamin Love had to wipe sweat from his brow mid-sermon. The women fanned each other, wrapped up in their excitement for the Lord. And all the young people gathered at the front of the church for more singing and praise and to accept Jesus into their life.

“We had one lady, afterwards, come forth with her testimony,” Rhoden said. “She had attended the Youth Crusade before. She’s in her 20s now. That’s what we’re here for.”