God displays His faithfulness at TeenStreet
God constantly shows us how faithful He is.
It is already the third year that we're taking a group of Turkish teens to TeenStreet Europe, OM's discipleship conference in Germany especially for teenagers. Like the past two years, it has been a challenge.
Some weeks ago, we had six teens cancel their registration in a two-day period because the conference was too expensive, though we'd already found support to cover travel expenses for them. We were left with two filled out application forms: one boy and one girl. Not enough to make a group.
I had lots of questions, and the biggest one was "God what do you want? You already provided some money, and now we have no teens."
Through all the challenges of full-time ministry, I have to remind myself again and again of our story. It is the story of how God made it happen for Turkish teens to go to TeenStreet at all.
It is already 17 years ago (1998) that my husband and I went to TeenStreet for the first time. We were there to help and serve. We got really excited when we saw that TeenStreet is organised with small groups that prevent participants from getting lost in the crowds of people and remaining anonymous. All the teens are divided into small language groups of six girls or boys with their own leader, and they have lots of contact during the day. They sleep together, they learn about God together, and they can hear and read all the studies in their own language.
Some years after our first experience, we brought the first two groups from our home church in the Netherlands to TeenStreet. It was a joy to be their coaches and see them grow. In the years that followed, we went with more teens from our church and new coaches. It was great to get more people involved!
During these years, we were already preparing to go to Turkey one day. Seeing the conference's impact on European teens, we imagined how great it would be for Turkish youth to be part of this. If it is such a blessing for Western teens who have lots of conferences and camps, we thought it would be an even greater experience for those from a county with only 1% Believers in a population of 77 million.
After we felt called to Turkey, it took our family 10 years before we finally moved there (2009). We still had the dream to take teens to TeenStreet, but without a translator for them, it would not be possible. We didn’t talk about our hopes with anyone, and we didn’t make any plans, as it seemed impossible in many ways, not the least of which were of the costs.
But then in 2012, our team's leader came to us and shared about a church in the States who had been praying for Turkey and had gotten a vision to see Turks going to TeenStreet.
We couldn’t believe it! God had given the same vision to people on the other side of the world!
Our team leader knew about TeenStreet but had never been there. He asked my husband Mark if he would be willing to investigate the possibilities and see if it would really be appropriate with the differences in culture. Mark went with a local Believer, and we were all positive that it was from God to go for it.
In 2013, the first Turkish group ever attended TeenStreet, a small group of boys. Although it was a great success, we doubted often if it was really worth all the effort and money. It was definitely not easy to get all the passports and visas, and it was hard work in many ways.
But God encouraged and challenged us again: in 2014 we went with boys and girls. We had a very special group of teens from diverse backgrounds. Again, it was a lesson in faith for us and the attendees.
We bought the tickets when we did not have the money yet, but God provided in a miraculous way. We were challenged again as one visa came only the day before the flight to Germany, and even at the border, we weren't sure if that person would be allowed into Germany.
But once again, God showed His faithfulness.
Here we are in 2015, when only two teens had applied. As doors didn’t close and as God provided in a special way some finances, a coach and a new teen, we started to look for new teens. Time was short as we organised passports, visas, tickets, and translation. We worried it would all be for nothing.
Two weeks later, we had enough teens to go.
Everything is in God’s hands. He is always faithful, and He reminded us of that when we decided to take Turkish teens to TeenStreet.
We are looking forward to see what He will do in the future!