As the curtain came down on TeenStreet (TS) 2016, the mood written on many teenagers’ faces was “Veni vidi vici—I came, I saw, I conquered. Yea-ah!” as Lukas (17) from Germany summarized.
Still full of chatter, smiles and the energy to last another week, the teens formed a festive atmosphere in the Ewe Arena during the final Throne Room session, juxtaposed only by sadness stemming from the fact that that this was their last evening together at TS.
In total, 3,800 people from over 40 different countries gathered in the city of Oldenburg, Germany, for TS, OM’s international youth congress. TS seeks to work 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.
This year, TS focused on the theme LIFE, with main speakers Josh and Debs Walker looking at the beginning of life as presented by the Creator of all life. A series of messages from the book of Genesis taught teenagers about God, creation, their identity, the relationship with God that was torn in the fall of mankind and how to restore that relationship and co-labour with God.
Each day, teens reflected on the teaching in small groups, prayed for each other and discussed ways to apply what they learnt to their lives at home.
In addition, teens participated in many exciting activities, including sports, creative arts, seminars and workshops. Participants also had free time to interact and get to know people from other countries, with different cultural and church backgrounds.
Furthermore, many teens made a difference in the life of others by participating in the RAG (raise and give) race, where runners collected one-time donations and per-lap sponsors. Throughout the week, people also gave to the same cause through other fundraising options and donation bins. By the end of the week, TS participants raised €75,000 for the House of Joy, in Kosovo, which helps teenagers, aged 12-15, who are at risk of dropping out of school.
Teenagers and adults alike hailed TS 2016 as a success. Jonathan Dong (22), a service team member from France who served in a fundraising store said, “I was busy selling goods for RAG, but I have no doubt that [TS] was a success because I was raised here. That is why I keep coming to serve.”
Jo McKissick, originally from the US but serving as a youth leader in Norway, said, “The best thing about TeenStreet is that it reminds kids from smaller churches that they are not a ‘weird kind’ as they come here and find thousands of other kids like them. Even those who have not believed, believe because of the rub-on effect of those who have already believed.”
In addition to meeting new friends from other countries, spending prolonged time with other young believers can make lasting connections that have a positive effect on teenagers’ spiritual development. This year, TS was surely a place where fears were conquered as new relationships were formed and new confidence gained.