HOUSTON (BP)–The high costs of travel, fears of calamity, anxiety about terrorism and predictions of “doom and gloom” at the turn of the 21st century did not deter 64 residents of Hawaii from participating in YouthLink 2000 at the Houston Astrohall.
YouthLink 2000 was a Southern Baptist Convention-sponsored millennium celebration held in seven sites across the United States Dec. 28-31. It sought to motivate, inspire and prepare the estimated 50,000 students attending for the next century.
Twenty-six of the Hawaiians performed a hula at the opening session Wednesday night that was linked via satellite to all six of the other sites around the nation: Anaheim, Denver, Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Tampa.
Another eight students — the Hawaiian Surf band called Jah Ska — performed on one of the secondary stages set up in the sprawling Astrohall.
Andrew Large, minister to students at Miliani Baptist Church in Miliani, a suburb of Honolulu, was the driving force behind bringing the Hawaiians to the millennium event.
“I first heard about YouthLink in 1992 when I was a youth minister in Jacksonville, Fla.,” Large said. “I knew from the first time I heard about it that I would be a part of YouthLink somehow.”
About five years ago, Large relocated to Hawaii as youth pastor at the 500-member multicultural congregation in Miliani. His commitment was renewed when Richard Ross, youth consultant with LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, and co-chair of YouthLink, and Doyle Pennington of Atlanta, coordinator, came to Hawaii to make presentations.
“We tried to get one of the sites in Honolulu because it is so expensive to travel to the mainland, but attendance would have been too small. And there is a five-hour time difference from the East Coast, which would have complicated the satellite linkup. So they did not choose to select Hawaii,” Large said.
Large, who served on the Houston Committee on Local Arrangements as a member of the program committee, began to lay the groundwork to bring the Hawaiian students to YouthLink.
“We had a dinner where we presented the information we had. Then we had an event at the state convention,” he explained.
About a year-and-a-half ago, predictions of problems related to the Y2K computer bug began.
“Some of our pastors were preaching ‘doom and gloom’ and I decided to do my homework. I read the books they were reading and went on the Internet to find out about Y2K. Then, I talked to a member of my church who is a pilot who has been flying for 20 years. He had made a commitment to sending his own son to YouthLink.
“I thought he would not be willing to send his son if he thought anything was going to happen. I got him to write a letter to the pastors of the Hawaii Baptist Convention.”
Large said he got students and adults from six of the 70 churches of the HBC to participate. Large and members of five of the churches attended the Astrohall event, and one other church decided to go to Anaheim, thinking it would be less expensive.
The fact that the Hawaii group was able to come to Houston and appear on the main stage at the opening event has been “a God thing all the way through,” Large said. “We were asked to perform, but we did not know it would be broadcast live via satellite to all of the other sites,” he said.
First they experienced delays in getting a recording of the song for choreography and rehearsal. Then when they arrived in Houston they worked with the band Watermark to cut the routine to fit the three-minute time slot allotted for their satellite link.
“Doing a hula is different, and there are a lot of movements which blend into other movements,” Large said. “We had to re-choreograph the dance and then let all of the dancers – 10 men and 16 women – practice so the movements would match the music.
“When we timed it the first time it was exactly three minutes to the second,” he said. “It was a God-thing.”