"What the Lord showed me was there had become a great disconnect with the youth," he said last week. "The Lord showed me we needed to do something to bring the youth back together, try to do something because we just done what society said, marked them off as generation X and just let them go."
The program, celebrating its second year, offers food, fun and education to area youth. From 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, children of any age can enjoy a meal and games at the Summer Hill Complex, 129 Aubrey St. in Cartersville. During Saturday's happenings, children 6 to 18 years old can take part in workshops on topics from cooking to self-esteem; health screenings as well as lectures from guest speakers. Parents also are invited to become involved with the day's festivities.
Organized by members of more than 10 area churches, Youth Explosion strives to get children off the street and involved in the community.
"When I started pastoring in Kingston, I noticed there was a disconnect from the time when we came up and the era we are in now. As kids, we all played together in the summertime ... and then I started looking at the violence that was happening in the community with young people, with the fighting, the gangs," said Livsey, who pastors New Shiloh Baptist Church in Kingston.
Organizers of the event are expecting more than 200 youth for the weekend activities, which will culminate with a 3 p.m. service Sunday at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, according to Caroline Johnson, a member of the Publicity Committee.
Charles Fluellen, who will be offering cooking demonstrations, said that while he is not a chef, teaching children about healthy eating is a chance to give back to the community.
"Personally, for me, it's giving me another opportunity to be part of a great community. We all have our passions about different things. Mine just happens to be I like to have fun with cooking. This gives me an opportunity, one to show them there is something quick and easy they can fix at home, [and] two, we try to make something healthy," said Fluellen, adding he hopes to provide instruction on making Philly cheesesteaks and Chinese dishes among others.
Beginning as a picnic last year in Kingston, Livsey said he has derived satisfaction watching the program grow.
"Most people sit back and talk about, 'We want to do something,' until someone actually starts doing something and then everybody jumps onboard. All the people that you see have come onboard because other folks are concerned and are looking for someone to help do something," he said. "I am very encouraged that each year is growing and becoming bigger. It just takes time to grow something like this."
The pastor hopes to share a bit of his vision with those who take part in the Youth Explosion.
"My main thing is we still care. That's the whole message I'm trying to get to the young folk. We want to show them we care and we want to do something to help them be successful in life," Livsey said. "That's what I want the community to see -- no one is excluded, everyone is included."
Organizers of the event still are seeking donations to be used in workshops and meals, as well as financial contributions. Participants will receive a T-shirt and other items. Registration for Saturday's workshops begins at 9 a.m. with classes starting at 10. For more information, call Livsey at 770-548-8887.