Drawing closer to God

written by Hannah Rueber

TeenStreet 2018 (Oldenburg, Germany) opened and finished as a large-scale, group effort: 3,200 people in total, 1,800 participants (teens); 41 nationalities, 19 registered countries; 11 languages being translated during the Main Hall sessions. Each day, 28 July – 4 August, the international trio of speakers, Rich, Ron, and Rachel jumped into a different element of living as a Christian that focused on the theme of the week: drawing closer to the Father. Through morning teaching seminars, small group discussions, workshops, free time activities, evening praise sessions (Throne Room) and so much more, participants and staff spent time diving into the Bible and finding applicable lessons to take home.

Each day centred on a particular word that illustrated the teaching.

  • Day 1: Reveal—There is an immensely big God who longs to be intimately near to His children. When asked to choose a name of God that stuck out, Jonas (Faeroe Islands) chose ‘Almighty’. “It describes everything about Him. He is all-knowing, all powerful, mighty and wise; He is above everyone and everything.”
  • Day 2: Represent—All followers of Jesus are part of God’s kingdom, each called to represent Him through their lives. God’s values and truths should be apparent through believers to others. One small act of kindness can grow into something big. In the Art Zone, Hannah and Thea (Denmark) shared their thoughts about painting. “One small act would just be praising God with the gifts He has given you. Through art, music, science…anything.”
  • Day 3: Breathe—Faithful and worthy of trust, God provides everything His children need. Followers of Jesus should choose worship rather than worry. In their small groups, teens found support and encouragement from each other. “Everyone surrounding you has the same belief” (Johanna and Jossan, Sweden). “They understand what you’re going through. They’re your same age; you become friends with everyone in your NET group and have people you connect to.”
  • Day 4: Release—Forgiveness is an important part of believers’ relationship with God and others. God’s forgiveness enables them to forgive others and ask for forgiveness themselves. Karson (USA) understood that “forgiveness is a way to grow spiritually and a way to grow closer to God. It is a process of really trusting Him. It doesn’t matter if the people that hurt you care or feel bad. It is about releasing that hurt.”
  • Day 5: Grit—Temptation is the hardest obstacle the devil throws onto the path of the Christian race. God gives His children the strength to carry on and to get out of the traps they find themselves in. The sight of Rich in a cage on stage really stuck with the teens. “Seeing him inside helped [me] to understand what evil does,” said Levi (Austria). “I liked seeing how Rich was trapped inside the cage and how it [the cage] was removed without him doing anything,” agreed Harald (Norway). “It made me think of how we don’t have to move our ‘cages’ by ourselves, but we can ask God for help.”
  • Day 6: Infinity— Followers of Jesus are part of a kingdom that goes on forever and ever. The truths and impact of TeenStreet don’t end when the event does. Believers are to be lights in their homes, schools, workplaces and lives. During the programme, the entire audience turned on their cell phone lights as an illustration, which was “a really good reminder to be a light for others,” Johanna Maria and Mona (Faroe Islands) said. “We can take that with us back to the Faroe Islands.” Rukky (Ireland) shared, “Studying the Bible in small groups has been so meaningful for me. That’s definitely something I want do more of back home.”

During the week teens spent time in small groups to process what they heard during the Main Hall sessions. ‘The Big Adventure’ portion of small group is a time of personal reflection and application. Teens are encouraged to talk to God, read additional Bible passages and find a takeaway/application point. They discuss their thoughts with their group and learn from each other’s experiences.

“We are so open and talk about everything,” Feie (Belgium) shared. “We’re not scared what other people think… It’s really nice that we can say everything that’s on our hearts.”

Mid-week, the annual RAG (Raise and Give) race filled the afternoon with runners and supporters raising money for teenage refugees around Europe. On the day, 844 runners, united by one goal, raised 56,202 euros (around 64,992 USD). Some runners donated their own money as well as what they’d raise from supporters. Georgia (Ireland) told how “it’s good that everyone is raising money for a good cause and getting some exercise at the same time.”

As part of afternoon outreaches, teens handed out flowers with notes of encouragement, or walked around the TeenStreet site with signs for free hugs or prayers. Groups also took part in Global Village, OM’s missions immersion and mobilisation experience.

As an international Christian congress for teenagers, TeenStreet works with the Church to motivate, equip and walk alongside (Christian) teens from all across Europe to have a real friendship with Jesus and reflect Him daily in their world. For more information, visit www.teenstreet.de.

3,200 people gathered in Oldenburg, Germany, for TeenStreet 2018.

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