The earthquake in Mexico City was difficult to watch from afar. I love Mexico City. I have many loved ones there. It was an unforgettable experience watching the news from here.

But it was even more unforgettable for those directly involved. I asked one of my friends and students, Jonathan, to write down what he experienced during that day and in the aftermath.

Here are his thoughts.

It was 1:13 PM on September 19, a sunny day full of activity in the schools, offices, and streets of Mexico City. I was in Coyoacán just a little ways away from Ciudad Universitaria giving music classes as part of Punto de Encuentro (our student ministro) at Vida Nueva (New Life Baptist Church), when we felt it, without any warning, no alarm, no notification from the preventative applications, all of the earth began to move. It was a 7.1 earthquake with its epicenter in Morelos; it was short but very strong which caused a disaster in all of Mexico City, with around 3,000 buildings affected and uninhabitable, while Morelos and Puebla were also destroyed. Some minutes after the earthquake, there was terrified people running around trying to communicate with their families.

Many young people began to arrive at Punto de Encuentro, especially friends of mine from other student ministries at the University nearby because they were told to evacuate the University as a preventative measure, and in this moment we had put on the news and were communicating with our families since in Punto de Encuentro we still had internet and electricity. I took advantage of this moment and asked us to all join in prayer for what was happening. I think it was a good start because later we would need more than prayer—it would be time to participate and sacrifice for many of us.

It was impressive to see so many volunteers in the streets, volunteers in business suites or on bicycle—but there were many people participating—especially youth—youth who were more ready to help and prepared than ever.

After the earthquake a group of us started looking for the best way to help, communicating by WhatsApp. It was very difficult to move around in the city, so at the beginning each of the young people started looking for the best way in which we could help the places near where each one was, donating blood, taking food to the places where buildings had collapsed, looking for places where there were donation centers, or even one of my best friends who is an expert in social media strategies and creative editing was using her abilities to filter information on social media to be sure that the correct information was getting out (which was very necessary in that moment).

On September 20, I went to a donation center organized by the Baptist Convention, and 60-70% of the people who were there helping were young people from different churches, during this whole day the city was working to help, and this phrase went viral on social media: “Young people have taken the city, I hope they don’t give it up.” It was really inspiring and fascinating to see how the whole city began to help and see that young people, who had been criticized for being “millennials,” a selfish and superficial generation, was showing up; once again society was wrong about youth.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of that week, my pastor and others along with friends from the Seminary organized trips to help and take food to Tetela del Volcan in Morelos, one of the most affected areas. I had the opportunity to go on Friday with 4-5 other youth, and the place where we were helping clean up, they said there were more than 150 houses destroyed. Without a doubt this place needed help and many others, also.

These days were important for the church of Christ, because we needed to be light. We shouldn’t wait for more disasters to happen, but we need the grace that we live to be an daily attitude to love our neighbor.

Thanks of the youth of my church who not only that week but for years have been committed to demonstrate love and obey Christ, seeking the Kingdom of God here on earth.

I will not forget this day, not only because of the earthquake, but also because I saw thousands of young people offering help to others.

Please keep praying for Mexico City and the surrounding areas as they recover from this tragedy.