July 31, 2002
LENK, Switzerland (BP) — A group of 22 students from Hannibal-LaGrange College recently returned from Europe where they challenged teenagers to "Cross Barriers" July 4-12 in Lenk, Switzerland.
Youth from 18 different countries attended the six-day camp sponsored by the European Baptist Convention. More than 250 youth and leaders were in attendance.
The English-speaking camp was comprised of mostly American youth who are children of military personnel, missionaries and corporate workers. HLG’s task was to assure the students that God is as constant as the mountains he created, even when he is not visible in their ever-changing lives.
The youth have experienced extensive travel and diverse cultures in their short lives. Many of them, however, did not fully appreciate their surroundings, but simply felt "along for the ride" as their missionary parents moved or their military fathers relocated. They considered America home, and were American kids looking for a place to fit in.
"These students are already out of their comfort zones, in unfamiliar cultures," said Jan Horak, a member of the EBC youth committee and youth minister at Faith Baptist Church in Kaiserslautern (K-Town), Germany. "Our goal this year was to help students tear down those barriers between cultures and age groups."
"This trip had several purposes," said Tom Hufty, HLG vice president for collegiate affairs and assistant to the president. "We were there to encourage, evangelize and equip youth and youth leaders." Hufty has taken teams to the camp for the last six years.
The conference site was a place of beauty, a far cry from the poverty and want of other outreach missions, but HLG students took seriously their own mission of encouragement. They encouraged through small-group leadership, teaching Bible studies during team time to a group of 15-20 teenagers.
Additionally, several HLG team members led workshop seminars on a variety of topics, including drama, "For Girls Only," "For Guys Only," "Designed for a Purpose," "Pledge to Purity" and "Prophecy and Promises of the Bible."
HLG senior Jennifer Griffin led a session for teenage girls who struggle with self-image.
"My main goal was to show the girls how beautiful they are and the detail God has in each of them," said Griffin. This was Griffin’s second year at EuroVenture.
Junior Melissa May said she prayed for each of her team members by name. One particular youth was especially on her mind. "Nick, who was from Italy, was fun and so full of life, but he had a chip on his shoulder," she said.
"He was only 13 years old, but people followed him because he was a natural leader," she said, adding that Nick became a Christian later in the week.
"I learned that God answers prayer in his timing," May said.
EuroVenture students crossed barriers when they invited a group of German students to the evening worship service. The German students were attending band camp at the same site as EuroVenture.
One girl was curious and stayed after the service to ask questions. HLG graduate Sabrina Price helped lead the young woman through the Bible’s plan of salvation. Price said the girl spoke broken English, so she had to try several different approaches to communicate clearly.
"It was difficult to communicate at first, but I could tell when she understood it. It was awesome to see her face light up," said Price. The teenager accepted Jesus Christ that night.
In addition to leading team time, New Edition, HLG’s Christian theatre troupe, performed during the morning and evening worship services. Hufty was the morning celebration speaker. Youth evangelist Dave Edwards spoke each evening. The Oklahoma-based band Rented Mules, led worship. Hufty said HLG plans to continue the partnership with the EBC, providing leadership at EuroVenture in the future.
"For most of the European youth, this is the one big spiritual event they get all year long," said Hufty, explaining that many have small youth groups of only two or three people.
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