Youth Retreat 2023

Imke Böhmer, Pretoria

“You are His witness” was the topic for the Youth Retreat in Lüneburg from 12 to 17 December. After many cheerful greetings and a wonderful dinner, the first task given by our pastors Martin Paul, Tobias Ahlers and Christian Straeuli was to answer a few questions about what we imagine it means to be a witness of Jesus. After this introduction and the evening devotion, we went to bed full of expectation. We were not disappointed. Early each morning at 7am, all the brass players were ready to play a few pieces before breakfast. We held morning devotions in smaller groups before the presentations, with delicious coffee breaks in between. Later we had choir practise with our conductor Rainer Johannes, where we sang wonderful songs, which were great fun, especially when there was one in isiZulu! The evenings were filled with question-and-answer sessions and games. We were able to learn even more with the help of these sessions and the question box, and the pastors were always available for one-on-one conversations.

The presentations were incredibly enriching. Firstly, we were given a broad overview of the history of mission before moving straight on to our topic. How I can personally be a witness of Jesus and why this is so important. God’s command plays a major role here: everyone has the task of taking God’s word out into the world. The next question that naturally arose, was, how do you do that? How do I testify to my faith and how do I bring people to God? Our pastors used some wonderful examples to illustrate what our “idea” of faith looks like and how to communicate it to others; and how to summarise our faith using the catechism. A presentation by missionary Thomas Beneke was particularly interesting. He explained a lot about missionary work, including his own. The best part came afterwards – we went on a trip to Pongolo Valley Primary School and discovered how mission can also be done in this way by helping several people with the concept of “Farming God’s Way. Some of the young people even worked in their fields, others were painting a building for their fundraiser.

At the end of the week, we gathered our impressions of the Youth Retreat. We all agreed that the food was fantastic! We are very grateful to the women of the Lüneburg congregation for that. We also agreed that the topic was incredibly informative and relevant, and we thank the pastors for that. The music was wonderful, and with the choir songs and the pieces we played as a small brass ensemble, we were able to enrich the divine service on Sunday, all thanks to our conductor. Grateful for an incredibly wonderful time and full of purpose and courage in our hearts, we were able to say “goodbye” and head home. Thanks to the Lüneburg congregation and everyone who helped to organise an unforgettable Youth Retreat!

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