By Sheila Allen, NW Baptist Witness,
VANCOUVER – A contingent of Northwest Baptist teenagers and leaders joined over 6,800 students from around the world in Leipzig, Germany, for the Baptist Youth World Conference in recent weeks. The 47-member group worshiped with others from 69 countries and took advantage of the opportunity to meet in small groups to gain a greater understanding of each other and how God is at work among them. The first night of the conference participants experienced a theme interpretation about the history of Germany that moved many of them to tears.
“We learned so much about the era of Martin Luther right on through Hitler’s reign and on to the fall of the wall that separated Germany,” said Danny Kuykendall, youth strategist for the Northwest Baptist Convention. “When the wall fell, there were Christians praying and lighting candles at the wall, as well as others all over the country. They saw God at work reuniting their country.
“It was neat to see the impact the conference had on the city,” Kuykendall added. “If Germany ever comes to the Lord, it will bebecause of teens.”
Kuykendall not only organized the travel arrangements, but also mapped out an additional week of ministry for the team with International Mission Board missionaries after the conference was completed.
After traveling for 40 minutes to reach the mission site in Dresden, Germany, the team joined Jason and Cheryl Dietz, missionaries who have just completed their first two years in Germany where they have focused mostly on language training.
“The communist era moved the German people away from faith,” Kuykendall said. “There is still a fear of people gathering for any reason, so religious gatherings are suspect. They are very embarrassed at the stigma Hitler has left on their reputation.”
Each morning the Northwest team was up by 6:30 to prepare for a day of prayer walking through the city. After breaking into groups of 10, the students hit the streets to cover the city with prayer, while also attempting to talk with people around them. The students had been given 10 ways to pray which included individuals they would encounter, the government, and local commerce.
“German people are very reserved,” Kuykendall noted. “Jason told us we should not expect to see decisions made for Christ during our trip. The students were encouraged to start conversations and found children and teenagers were most responsive to that.”
While most were not able to share the gospel message, the teams handed out Frisbees with a scripture imprint to help initiate contact. They also spent a day at a large pool and recreation area for a day of Bible study and games for those in the area.
“These kids were amazing,” Kuykendall said. “They were so ready to serve and never complained. We stayed in a youth hostel, so we had a witness there too. Many on this trip were from some of our smaller churches, so this was a great opportunity for them to join an international trip.”
While on the trip, three students said they felt a call to vocational ministry in an international setting.
“The people we were working with were not responsive, and it worried me that our kids would feel disappointed because many times in other countries it is so different,” Kuykendall said. “But even in the midst of a more difficult environment, students still felt the pull to make a difference in that part of the world. Jason was so impressed by our team; they went far beyond his expectations.”
The team gave the young missionaries a respite by watching their young children while the couple spent time out for the evening, something that has been difficult in their current setting. The children go to a public German school, as homeschooling is not allowed in that country.
“This was a different trip that we have ever been on,” Kuykendall said. “Our students got the chance to see that the Lord is moving throughout the world, but some parts are much more difficult than others. The German people have no belief system at all. They are private, independent people and it will take much to break down those barriers. This was a good step to help in that process.”