Peer support, not pressure, for Christian teens at TeenStreet

An international gathering where the Bible is taught, and Jesus is worshipped is noteworthy anywhere. In a continent where church membership is dwindling and in-depth discipleship is harder to come by, such an event directed at teenagers is a unique and invaluable opportunity.

TeenStreet is just that. OM’s annual summer event is an international Christian conference with Europe’s teens in mind.

It gives teens a chance to come out of the world and meet together in a shared faith experience while gaining exposure to other nationalities and the needs in Europe. This may spark a missions vision or a desire for a life of service at home. At minimum, it is intended that teens will take home with them a deeper understanding of Christian living, motivated to reflect Christ in their daily surroundings.

TeenStreet works with churches across Europe to motivate, equip and walk alongside teens

TeenStreet works with churches and fellowships across Europe to motivate, equip and walk alongside their young members so that teens will have a genuine friendship with Jesus and reflect Him daily in their world. Teen believers gather in Germany for a week of Bible study and faith-sharing outreach.

Last year, TeenStreet Germany hosted 4,500 participants and volunteers representing over 20 nationalities.

Morning sessions pack in Biblical teaching, provoke thought

Each day starts with a morning session with an international panel of speakers. Last year, presenters from three countries each taught on a different aspect of Christian living while interpreters brought the message into 11 languages for the diverse audience. Lessons centered on the 2018 theme of drawing closer to God the Father, broken down by daily one-word themes for each day:

Reveal—An immensely big God longs to be intimately near His children. This helped Jonas (Faroe Islands) acknowledge God as, “Almighty. It describes everything about Him. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, mighty and wise; He is above everyone and everything.”

Represent—As members of God’s kingdom, followers of Jesus are entrusted with representing Him by how they live, making God’s Truth apparent to others. Even a small act of kindness can grow into something bigger. An example could “just be praising God with the gifts He has given you, through art, music, science…anything,” commented Hannah and Thea (Denmark).

Breathe—Faithful and trustworthy, God provides everything His children need. This frees followers of Jesus to choose worship over worry. In their small groups, teens found support and encouragement. Johanna and Jossan (Sweden) were delighted to be surrounded by like-minded teens that shared their beliefs. “They understand what you’re going through. They’re your same age; you become friends with everyone in your group and have people you connect with.”

Release—Forgiveness is an important part of a believer’s relationship with God and others. Forgiveness originates from God toward His children and enables followers to forgive others and receive forgiveness for 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.”

Grit—Temptation is an expected obstacle that the adversary will toss in the path of Christians running the good race. Yet, God gives strength to press on and escape the traps in which His children may find themselves. Rich (one of the international trio of speakers) acted out this dilemma onstage. Closed up in a cage, he struggled until he got free with outside help. This visual lesson made an impact on observers. “Seeing him inside helped [me] to understand what evil does,” said Levi (Austria).

“We can ask God for help.” - Harald (Norway)

Harald (Norway) concurred. “It made me think of how we don’t have to move our ‘cages’ by ourselves, but we can ask God for help.”

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. To illustrate, the entire audience turned on their cell phone lights when prompted. The resulting collection of lights was, “a really good reminder to be a light for others,” Johanna Maria and Mona (Faroe Islands) said.

“Studying the Bible … That’s definitely something I want to do more of.” - Rukky (Ireland)

Rukky (Ireland) intended to build on his TeenStreet experience after it ended. “Studying the Bible in small groups has been so meaningful for me. That’s definitely something I want to do more of back home.”

Small group break-out sessions followed the combined meeting to reinforce its lessons. Guided by staff, participants processed what they had heard. “The Big Adventure” is a time in small group for personal reflection and application, where teens are encouraged to talk to God, read additional Bible passages and find an 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. “It’s really nice that we can say everything that’s on our hearts.”

Workshops, free-time activities and evening praise sessions called the “Throne Room” rounded out the learning experience.

Taking it to the streets - Raise and Give race to help others

Afternoon outreaches gave participants time to approach people in the host city to share their faith plus offer encouragement and prayer. Groups also took part in “Global Village,” OM’s missions immersion and mobilization experience.

“Raise and Give” is a focal outreach event each year. On a midweek afternoon, runners backed by financial supporters run laps to raise money for a cause, which is different each year. Last year, 844 TeenStreet runners raised 56,202 euros (around 64,000 USD) to benefit Europe’s teenage refugees. Some runners contributed their own money to what they had already raised.

Rebecca goes the distance for TeenStreet

Rebecca (UK) is a teen who took fundraising for Raise and Give to a new level.  Three years ago, proceeds funded a project in Bosnia. “Almost as soon as I arrived, I decided to raise as much money as possible for this project,” she recalled. She walked around the TeenStreet site, talking to people and finding donors who would sponsor her to run laps. She raised about 900 euros for Bosnia, (around 1,000 USD) for the Raise and Give project that year.

The following year, Rebecca went to Albania on behalf of TeenStreet to make a promotional video for Immanuel Center, that year’s Raise and Give beneficiary. In the course of that three and a half days, Rebecca got a real feel for the project and the people it would help. It lit a fire in her.

“When it came time for Raise and Give, I really worked to find sponsors because I personally knew the project and the people. I knew how much they needed the funds,” she explained. “Most of my sponsorships were being donated per lap. I ran about 28 laps. In the end, I raised nearly 3,000 euros (around 3,400 USD) for the Albania project.”

Serving with TeenStreet confirmed to Rebecca that she wanted to go into missions. “TeenStreet was the only (place) in my life telling me that I was capable of doing this at age 16. Without TeenStreet, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or felt confident enough to go.” Still a teenager, Rebecca returned to Albania a second time, to work with Immanuel Center for eight months. She mentored teen girls belonging to Europe’s Roma minority (formerly referred to as “gypsies”). Rebecca taught the girls French and studied English with them. When she became aware of a lack of Sunday School programs for younger children, Rebecca started one.

“Without TeenStreet, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or felt confident enough to go.” - Rebecca (United Kingdom)

Rebecca’s initial experience with TeenStreet began when she was 13 and didn’t stop.  When she aged out of the program, she came back as a coach to mentor participants. “I wanted to come back to serve,” she said. “I wanted to give back all that I’d received as a teen.” Today, Rebecca is still giving back at TeenStreet and hoping to go back to Albania. She hasn’t gotten the green light from God yet, but she affirms, “I want to go back.”

The next generation of Christian witness

What young Christian leaders will be sparked this year? Learn all about it at www.teenstreet.de

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