All-European Youth Congress
“Holy, holy, holy . . . Alleluia for the Lord God Almighty reigns!”
Imagine 4,000 voices from many countries raised in song, combined with a praise team and orchestra to lift us heavenward, and you will have just a faint idea of what it was like to be at the closing session of the All-European Youth Congress held in Valencia, Spain during the first week of August 2017.
The youth congress’s theme was “The Journey,” and individuals from several countries spoke on the topics of caring for the earth, serving fellow travelers and living responsibly to God.
The youth were spoiled for choice when it came to the various workshops, all of which were designed to provide practical support, encouragement and resources for their life journey.
A strong emphasis at the congress was on witness and mission. On Thursday afternoon many of the young people, wearing their congress T-shirts, boarded coaches to participate in “Impact Valencia” and share “The Story of a Nail.” Two thousand years ago, a nail on a cross changed the course of humanity. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther used a nail to remind us of the good news of salvation by faith alone. Members of the public in the old town of Valencia had the opportunity to hammer some nails into a mosaic which, when completed, formed an image of the face of Christ. Youth congress participants also demonstrated and reenacted the Reformation and Martin Luther’s story. The youth distributed leaflets and books with the purpose of helping people come to know the story of the One whose hands and feet had been nailed to a cross during the greatest rescue mission of all time. We joined the many youth at the congress venue to hammer several nails into the mosaic before it was taken to town. This was not only an outreach event but also an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest nail mosaic.
With the event’s strong emphasis on witness and mission, many young adults visited our AFM table in the exhibitors’ hall and enquired about serving as missionaries. Malachi and Adalia Coal, AFM missionaries to Turkey, joined Graham and me, and we answered many questions, gave out magazines and referred people to AFM’s website. High temperatures and humidity in the congress venue and no air conditioning in the exhibitors’ hall did not deter many young adults from speaking to us at length about their desire to become missionaries. Some expressed concerns about fundraising in their own countries where the church is small and the members are not very wealthy. However, we encouraged them not to be dissuaded from mission service on that account. We confirmed that if God calls, He takes the responsibility to provide. We shared our testimony of how God had provided for us.
A surprise visitor to our table was an individual who had served as a student missionary with AFM nearly 20 years ago. He is now involved in youth ministry in Germany and invited us to come to one of their Youth in Mission events and share more about AFM. The congress also gave us opportunity to network with other exhibitors, institutions and individuals in Europe, and we look forward to continued dialogue and partnership in the future.
The harvest is plentiful, and we pray that more people from Europe hear the call and become missionaries.