Noah Volkmar, SELK (Translated by Rebekka Böhmer, Pretoria)
The synodical youth camp in Wittenberg started on Tuesday with a delicious dinner, a happy reunion with friends from various congregations, and an introduction to our theme, “@My Jesus?! Was my idea of Christ shaped by HIM and/or by the world?”Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The following days were marked by interesting presentations and exchanges on our theme and the afternoons were filled with a wide variety of captivating community activities. Beautiful music pieces were rehearsed throughout the day with Rainer Johannes, our excellent youth conductor, in preparation for the divine service on Sunday. Sporting activities and an exciting trip to the Heyshope Dam were also part of the program. And of course a heartfelt thanks to the Wittenberg ladies, who always provided us with plentiful and delicious meals!
Our abovementioned theme was meticulously spread across the mornings, where we learned that there are constantly wrong ideas about Christ, which may shape our everyday life. The false Christ arises when and because our minds and hearts are captivated only by the centrality of ourselves as an individual. Our will, experiences, decisions, and dedication are key in this modern world, yet we couldn’t be more unaware that Christ and His saving and comforting work are thereby being lost. Jesus is silenced and degraded to a role model, genie or mystical friend who fulfils wishes and communicates with us personally and individually.
We talked about the comforts of our misconceptions about Jesus and why we find it so difficult to let go of them. Only by regularly reading and listening to God’s Word we can let our misconceptions be destroyed over and over again.
Jesus, and not man, is the be-all and end-all and HE works in us through grace and love, and through HIS holy sacraments and HIS death on the cross he redeems us from sin, death and our own sinful flesh.
We also spoke about how we can start a conversation with others and turn them away from a false Jesus that they might be worshiping and point them to the real Jesus – the Lord and Saviour through whom alone we earn salvation. We found it particularly important to approach people with an open ear and to show understanding of their situation and to ask why they disagree with our belief/teachings. By asking specific questions and pointing to relevant Bible verses, we can let God speak for himself and lead them to the realisation that their ideas about Jesus do not correspond with the Holy Scriptures, the place where Christ himself speaks to us and introduces himself to us.
Pastor Helmut Paul held a presentation on full-time service in the church. The pastors talked about their own careers and encouraged the young men not to be guided by insecurities, but to seek dialogue with pastors, pray a lot and dare to take the step to study theology. The girls were asked to support the young men and encourage them therein.
Our community activities like learning about working with cattle and trees at Gunther and Mecki Böhmer’s farm, visiting Heinz and Rainer Böhmer’s engine repair workshop, baking Christmas cookies for the seniors and creating mosaics or making dolls and toys from recycled materials for charity, were a fun addition to the week and as one big, communal effort, we repainted the large cross on the hill at Hiestermanns’ farm, to once again shine and proclaim our faith to all passers-by.
Saturday evening started with a wonderful, laughter-filled concert by the Arcadia youth and ended with a joyous evening.
The week ended on Sunday with a wonderful divine service led by the pastors Werner Straeuli and Martin Paul and the sermon was held by Pastor Tobias Ahlers from Shelly Beach. The youth accompanied the service with instruments and the beautifully rehearsed choral singing.
Many thanks to all organisers, helpers and the pastors who made the youth camp 2022 a big success!