By Nicole James
Maria*, 21, from Portugal first heard about TeenStreet (TS) after her parents attended the international youth congress in 2003. After that, “I always wanted to go, but my parents were always saying, ‘You’re not old enough to go yet,’” she recalled.
Finally, in 2012, when Maria was 16, her parents allowed her to join the group of teens from Portugal travelling to Germany for TS. “I was really excited to go on my first trip abroad,” she described. TS “was awesome the first time. I still remember the theme was about Psalms 40. Until today, that Psalm is amazing, and God talks to me through that Psalm.”
The next year Maria returned to TS. “2013 was a hard year in my life. While I was at TeenStreet, my parents were moving out, and I didn’t know which house they were moving into. It was a huge time of my life because I would also go to college, and I didn’t know where,” she explained.
“I was at TeenStreet, and I was terrified because I didn’t know anything in my life,” she continued. At TS, however, she felt God tell her that everything would be fine. “I know you can’t see what is going on, but I hold you with My hands,” Maria heard Him say.
That reassurance gave her peace, and when Maria returned home after TS, she discovered she would be going to college in the same city where her parents had moved. “It was really amazing to see God’s work!” she exclaimed.
After four years of studying nursing, Maria graduated in early July. “I realised that God wanted me to [study] nursing because nursing is taking care of people unconditionally. It doesn’t matter where they come from; it doesn’t matter what their stories are; we need to take care of them. I think God wants me to do that because it’s one of the reasons we are here as Christians,” she stated.
At TS for the fifth time this year (twice as a teen and three times as service team), Maria signed up to serve on the medical team, uniting her training and passion. However, upon arrival in Offenburg, she learned she would be working with Mainhall security instead. Regardless of the location, “I like to serve people and God,” she said.
This September, Maria will join OM’s six-month Missions Discipleship Training (MDT) programme in South Africa. “God is showing me that He wants me to be more than an ordinary nurse. He wants me to be a nurse that is not just a nurse but a nurse that spreads the Gospel.”
*Name changed to protect identity