Johanna (18) from Finland came to TeenStreet (TS) for the first time when she was 14 years old. She had learned about the event from her older siblings.
“I brought with me my best friend and a few other school friends,” she says.
“My first TS was wonderful. My coach was kind-hearted, and I got so much out of the week.”
Returning two years later, Johanna says she got even more out of her second TS. “This time I took part in the seminars and outreaches and learned so much more.”
Johanna describes TS as “an amazing event where everyone respects one another”.
“It’s easy to grow in your faith here,” she believes.
TS has impacted Johanna’s life beyond the week-long event.
“I’ve made new friends and grown closer with the existing ones. My relationship with God has deepened. Taking part in the outreaches has encouraged me to share my faith in my day-to-day life, too.
“The biggest impact has been on prayer as I come from a church where young people are not encouraged to pray out loud or pray together. Here prayer was encouraged during NET time. At first it felt strange and not at all natural. But when you just start praying, you get used to it.”
The international atmosphere at TS has made it easier for Johanna to take part in similar events elsewhere.
In the spring of 2016, when Johanna had just turned 16, she participated in a short-term outreach in Hungary.
“I had been praying for a couple months about taking part in an outreach outside of Finland even though I was still a teenager.”
Then Johanna learned that a leader from a nearby church was taking a group of teenagers to Hungary to participate in an Easter outreach organised by the local OM team.
“We travelled around the area with a puppet show, visiting schools, refugee centres, churches and homes for the disabled.”
How did Johanna get so enthusiastic about missions at such a young age?
“I grew up in a missions-minded environment,” she says. “My sister went to Logos Hope [OM Ships International’s ocean-faring vessel] for two years, and I’m sure TS has had its imprint on it too.”
“I also believe that there’s a certain fire that God has inflamed in me. I want to be a missionary, not just in Finland, but outside, too.”
For now, Johanna focuses on reflecting Jesus in her everyday life.
“I go to church, I talk about my faith openly without embarrassment, and I live my life according to the values found in the Bible. I treat people with love, and I try to be a good friend. It’s not that complicated.”
When asked about the future, Johanna says she has “amazingly good peace” despite not knowing what comes after her final year of high school.
“I have a growing certainty about wanting to work with children and teenagers. I’d like to study education, but if that doesn’t work out right away, I’m happy to go to Bible school or Logos Hope for a year or two.”
Johanna wants to encourage young people to find their place in God’s mission.
“Chase your passions boldly, and test whether or not they are from God. Be brave in taking your next steps, and trust that God will take care of you. Everything will work out just fine.”