This summer, Compton Community church celebrated its 28th annual Youth Explosion event. For four Sabbaths in July, the youth and young adults oversaw the worship service, from praise music to prayer, from guest speakers to youth spotlights.

Youth Explosion began in 1993 as part of the Compton Community Youth Club developed by Rochon Starks, Compton Community church youth leader, who has been working with the youth for more than 30 years.

This year’s theme, “Same God,” alluded to that legacy. “The same God that started in 1993 is the same God today,” Rochon said at this year’s first Youth Explosion Sabbath in July, “and it’s the same God who will deliver you to tomorrow.”

Members and friends of Compton Community church gathered for either a drive-in worship on campus or a livestreamed service online. Each week, a youth spotlight recognized a youth’s accomplishments, such as Kylynn Estrada, who wrote a book called Fab 5 based on superheroes experiencing spiritual gifts, or Jada Vernon, who has her own baking company making custom desserts. Guest speakers included Iki Taimi, Southern California Conference senior youth and young adult ministries director; Gamal Alexander, Compton Community church senior pastor; Terrance O’Bryant, Compton Community church youth pastor; and Jerrold Thompson, San Bernardino Community church senior pastor.

This year's Youth Explosion event was especially meaningful. “It was important this year because we’re all struggling through things,” said Imri Starks, a senior youth living in Florida but visiting her Compton Community church family this summer. “We’ve all lost our sense of community, but it’s important to remember that God is still with us through this time.”

Africa Saison, a former youth participant who was running sound for the program, acknowledged the impact of this event these past 28 years—and today. “The same God who has been with us when it started when I was a teenager,” she said, “is the same God who can get us through the pandemic, encourage us, and keep us safe.”

Last summer’s Youth Explosion was just one week long, taking place outside in the church parking lot, when churches first paused in-person gatherings to meet online at the height of the pandemic. This year's event marked the beginning of the drive-in services at Compton Community church that continue today.

“Our church recently voted to stay outside indefinitely,” Rochon added. “The word of God is getting out to the community, and we’re not doing anything but having church.”