It’s like our own little version of Groundhog Day. Every year the start of spring is marked by the great migration of young and young at heart Adventists to Mannheim, Germany. The Youth in Mission Congress has started, it’s time for five days of being among like minded people, of encouragement, community, spiritual awakening and, let’s face it, not a lot of sleep.
Before all of that can happen, there’s a lot of other things that need to be done. This year marks the eleventh Youth in Mission Congress, we’ve come a long way since the first meeting in 2007. Some things are routine by now, done it a million times, same procedure as every year, everybody knows what they have to do. That doesn’t mean there’s no challenges though, there’s never a dull moment when preparing for the Youth in Mission Congress.
Two days before the Congress starts, about 90 volunteers arrive early at the school to help set up. The congress hall needs protective floor covering, can’t leave marks (and a bad impression), the stage needs to be set up and lighting and sound gear has to be attached to the stage rig. There are around 1.500 chairs that need to be set up, and then we haven’t even started in the sleeping quarters yet. In order to keep the congress affordable for everyone the sleeping arrangements are in empty classrooms. Well, actually those aren’t empty to begin with, busy volunteer hands take pictures of the classrooms (so we know where to put everything when we leave), take out the chairs and tables, carry them to storage and even write nice little messages on the chalkboards. 1.800 people also need to be fed, so the small cooking class kitchen is transformed with giant pots, pans and an abundance of groceries. There’s a lot of work that goes into running a big congress like this, but something even more important, there’s a lot of prayer going into the Youth in Mission Congress.
The Youth in Mission Congress started as the idea to kindle a fire in the hearts of young people and help them find a community and passion for the gospel. Prayer is the fuel that keeps everything going, it keeps this shared idea alive, it reminds all the volunteers why they spent there spare time helping.
There’s a saying in German that goes: “After the congress is before the congress” and the organization team has made that their motto.Written by Klaus Müller on Wednesday, 12 April 2017.