Iowans Rise from Storm Ruins as Youth For Christ Rallies Churches to Help Rebuild

YFC Staffer: ‘Even Though a Lot of Devastation Took Place, That Community Became a Place of Hope’

September 14, 2020

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA — When Iowans awakened last month to a once-in-a-lifetime derecho, an inland weather event equivalent to a category IV hurricane, tens of thousands lost power and property, but Christians mobilized under the leadership of Youth For Christ (YFC, staffer Parnell Davis to “be the Church.”

Packing winds that topped 100 mph, the storm wreaked havoc that will ultimately take years to restore. Ten million acres of corn and soybeans were destroyed; the destruction prompted a disaster proclamation in twenty Iowa counties. The economic impact may be measured in billions of dollars. Cedar Rapids, where most houses and businesses suffered war-zone like damage, was hit especially hard.

Parnell Davis, who leads the Southeast Iowa YFC team, says seeing the storm’s destruction in Cedar Rapids was so much worse than just hearing about it.

“I heard about all the devastation, but when I got there and saw it literally on every street, it looked like a war zone — downed power lines, trees, huge trees, huge maple trees,” Davis said. “They’re not just uprooted from the ground. The whole ground is uprooted. And I’ve never seen any sort of devastation like that.”

Influenced by one of YFC’s mottos, “Anchored to the Rock, Geared to the Times,” Parnell knew that he had to use the platform God had given him through YFC, to put out a call for Christians to join him and live out their faith in Christ.

“We went up there on a Saturday, and there were 50 people working together, breaking bread, crying with an 80-year old lady that was out with a handsaw — trying to cut down her tree with a handsaw!” Davis said. “I said, ‘Ma’am, we’ll help you.’ But she said, ‘I can’t afford to pay you.’”

“It was an opportunity to really be the body of Christ,” Davis continued. “That’s what I want to see — the churches coming together. So even though a lot of devastation took place, that community became a place of hope. Instead of reeking of destruction, it became fragrant with hope.”

Youth For Christ staff and volunteers like Davis are encouraged by the YFC 3Story concept, which grows out of the belief that kids will be reached for Christ when they are met at their point of need, and as workers connect their stories with Jesus’s story. The felt need in Iowa was a devastating storm — and Davis’s social media post reached all the way to a Wisconsin YFC chapter that joined up with Southwest Iowa YFC to help their brothers and sisters in need.

“We got to eat together, laugh together, cry together, work hard together,” Davis said.

Youth For Christ’s 3Story encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while telling stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of day-to-day life in order to lead people to Christ. For more information, visit

To watch the full interview with Parnell Davis, click here.

Nationally, Youth For Christ is telling inspiring stories like these through#YFCBeTheStory, an initiative to help spread the word across the nation about how YFC chapters are making a difference in their communities.

Youth For Christ has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has more than 160 chapters impacting communities across America.

Visit the Youth For Christ media page here. Learn more about Youth For Christ at its website,, Facebook and Instagram pages, Twitter feed @yfcusa or on Vimeo.


To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.