Young people grow in faith at European Youth Event
The Salvation Army European Youth Event (EYE) brought 600 young people ages 15 to 25 to Altenkirchen, Germany, with more than 1,000 others participating via live webcasts and social media interaction.
Guest leaders included General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox, world president of women’s ministries, along with Majors Stephen Court and Danielle Strickland from the Canada and Bermuda Territory, who presented the keynote “EYE on it” Bible studies. They focused on the Old Testament character of Nehemiah and the challenges he encountered and overcame in his journey of faith, encouraging delegates to listen to God’s call in their own lives with a practical “feel it, say it, do it” method of response.
“Before I came to EYE I was not a Christian,” said delegate Nguyen Kim Nhat Nam, 21, who studies international business in Lahti, Finland. “Now I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and my life is filled with joy. I am proudly a Christian.”
Originally from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Nam discovered The Salvation Army through Salvationists sharing their faith on the streets of Finland. “I got to know them and admired what they were doing, though I come from a family and community with no Christian heritage,” he said. “Last Christmas, I offered to volunteer for The Salvation Army in Reykjavik, Iceland. Through this, I began to search—to focus on a connection with God and to find out more about who Jesus is.”
In one of the EYE meetings, Nam stood up to declare: “I have a vision of The Salvation Army in Vietnam. I want to return to Vietnam to serve in The Salvation Army. And if it’s not there, I want to start it!”
Many delegates camped out, allowing late-night fellowship around a campfire. Each of the European territories and commands took part, with music, comedy, dance and drama items. Morning re:charge prayer meetings began each day with a clear focus.
In an “Ask the International Leaders” segment, Cox revealed, to applause, that the legal work required for The Salvation Army to commence ministry in Slovakia was recently completed.
Delegates chose from a diverse selection of practical workshops throughout the event, with topics ranging from sexuality to sports ministry and from social media to social justice. A brass band from The Netherlands, gospel choir from Sweden and worship band from Germany participated in the main meetings, along with ballet dancer Shaw Coleman, and the EYE Choir (directed by John Mitchinson, United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland) and EYE Dance Group (led by Gloria Luta, Germany and Lithuania Territory).
In the Sunday celebration and commitment service, the General delivered the final Bible message, using the encounter of the rich young ruler in Luke 18 as his text. He highlighted the cost of following Jesus authentically before leading a closing song, “Storm the Forts of Darkness,” with a glory march through the venue.
Lt. Colonel Jonathan Roberts, under secretary for the Europe Zone at International Headquarters, offered a final benediction, using words from Romans: May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you …then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony (Rom. 15:5-7 MSG).