Eleven times and more in the making

23-year-old Sini (Finland) has been to TeenStreet (TS) eleven times. Her first TS took place when she was 13 years old and a family friend was looking for someone to go to TS with her own daughter.

“We got to know each other a little through email before travelling,” Sini recalls. “My mom has since admitted that she was a bit nervous about sending us to Germany. We were so young! But we became good friends, and I haven’t missed TS ever since.”

“I don’t remember that much about my first TS, it all gets scrambled up with the other ten,” Sini says. “The main memory that I have has to do with meeting God, connecting with him.” 

Serving together
Sini attended TS as a teenager six times. After that she served once in the security team together with her then-boyfriend Mikko. In 2015, Mikko became Sini’s husband, and the couple has spent a week every summer at TS ever since. This summer they served as coaches for the fourth time.

“It’s been awesome to serve together as a couple and get excited about the same things,” Sini says. “The fact that we can work together to further God’s Kingdom brings us joy. Our gifts complement one another.”

Sini points toward the volleyball field where Mikko is taking part in a tournament together with his small group.

“That’s Mikko, being all wild and participating whole-heartedly. I’m calmer, and I take in situations more through conversation.”

TS week is intensive, and coaches spend a lot of time with their groups. Mikko and Sini don’t see each other much during the week, but both say it still matters that the other one is there. 

Back from the volleyball field, Mikko says, “If Sini was home alone all week, I’d spend a lot more time thinking about how she’s doing. With her here, I get to see her briefly here and there, and I know that everything is well. I’m not sure I’d have it in me to come here every year alone. My wife’s support is crucial.”

Mentoring others
A few of the teens in Mikko’s group are onto their fourth TS, and each time they’ve been coached by Mikko.

“Quite a lot of growth takes place in four years,” Mikko points out. “It’s been great to watch them grow spiritually, and a privilege to be able to guide or steer that growth, sharing my life with them much like an older brother would with younger siblings.”

Mikko stays in touch with his group outside of TS, too. 

“We have our own WhatsApp group where we share prayer requests, talk about things we learnt at TS, and challenges we face in day to day life.”

Mikko believes that all Christians would benefit from having a mentor. It’s hard to grow in one’s faith alone. Mikko, too, has had people in his life who have mentored and advised him through his budding faith and the life choices he’s made. Now it’s his turn to share from what he’s learned with the younger generation. 

“We talk about everything, and we are very open about it – identity, building up self-esteem, and how to be an honest, God-fearing man in this society.”

Some of the boys have opened up about things that they’ve never talked about with anyone before. 

“It’s taken several years to get to this level of trust.”

Recharging batteries
Despite the week being busy and the coaches being on-duty around the clock, both Sini and Mikko feel that TS refreshes them more than takes a toll on them. 

“This is where I get my Jesus batteries recharged,” Sini laughs. “I get to spend time with close friends, and experience unity with the body of Christ. We don’t have to negotiate coming here, it’s a no brainer – of course we come. Our hearts are burning for this.”

TS impacts Sini’s day to day life back home, too.

“After each TS I feel empowered, equipped. It’s like, ‘Wow, I want to share this message with others!’ God feels closer, and I talk to him more. And I feel joy in being able to serve with my gifts.”

“Over the years, TS has helped me understand how important God is in my life.”