Saturday, August 2, 2008

A mountaintop experience

By Eron Henry

Saturday afternoon youth conference participants will have an opportunity to experience the sights, culture, and history of Leipzig, and to introduce the people of Leipzig to the worldwide Baptist family.

The approximately 6,300 young people from 89 countries attending the Baptist Youth World Conference will gather in several locations throughout the city to minister through music and the arts, to tour the city, and then will all come together to end the day with a large worship celebration in Leipzig’s city square.

On Sunday, Edward Alabi from Nigeria will send the gathering off with the final charge, as participants in the conference are urged to return to their respective countries with the challenge to enter into a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.

All will remember the stories as told by Shane Claiborne about his ministry among the homeless, of 16 year old Zach Hunter about his quest to end slavery, of Asha Sanchu about her ministry to abused women and children, and of Denise Vasconcelos about Volunteers without Borders in her country, Brazil.

The five days end too soon, as the conference has served as a mountaintop experience for many. But as Nick Lear, speaker in the Bible studies, said, the mountaintop experience does not last for long. All have to come down from the mountain and go back home. It is hoped that all will return to their countries, churches, and families, prepared to “Dive Deeper” in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Family Groups Bond

By Julia Grundmann

Aniekan is the only one from Nigeria in his family group. He met many new people – from countries such as Germany, Croatia and Canada. He was especially impressed by the fact that many participants of the family group have only recently become Christians. They talked a lot about their new experiences with Jesus. Keshia and Samantha from Canada are in the family group for the first time. They did not have any specific expectations and they have met many new people both inside and outside their family group. Asked what they talked about with their new friends, Keshia answered, “Well, about general things like music and so on.”

Keshia and Samantha

Micah from the USA leads a family group with participants from five different countries. However, the family group wants to build a new country. “Love” shall be its name. The participants of this family group split up into small groups which take care of the flag, the constitution or the slogan for the new country. “The work in small groups is very effective,” said Micah. “That way everyone has an important task and gets to know the others even better.”

Clearly a heart has to be included in the flag design. A blue one like water. That is also the connection to the theme of the conference “Dive Deeper“. And of course the constitution must contain the sentence “Love each other.” Yet, the topic is postponed to the next day, because it is lunchtime and the group heads off for a fellowship meal.

Shane Claiborne - The Simple Way

By Jenny Joergensen

To follow Jesus radically by being extremists of love and grace. That is the challenge.

The world, which is suffering from poverty, war and injustice, is longing for Christians to help bring about the kingdom of God here on earth, said Shane Claiborne of the Simple Way community in Philadelphia in the USA.

In a workgroup and in the evening gathering on Thursday, the 33-year-old called conference participants to use imaginative political action to change the world. Shane stressed that in order to end poverty, one has to be involved personally. Members of the Simple Way community live in a poor, inner-city neighborhood in Philadelphia. Community members are friends of the homeless. They give away almost everything they earn to their needy friends. “The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them away,” Shane said.

He reminded the young people to not only believe the right things but to live the gospel. “Let your actions reveal who you are,” Shane encouraged the audience. “I am really excited that most of you are very young,” he said during the workshop.

“People ask you what you want to do when you grow up. But what’s really important is who you are going to be.” It is not whether we are doctors or engineers that matters, he said, but what kind of doctors or engineers we are. “Take the words of Jesus seriously, and it will turn your world upside down.”

Friday, August 1, 2008


by Julia Grundmann

“That’s” The young woman from Canada could not say more because tears began to fall. Like about 100 other young people, she saw the movie, “Fields of Mudan,” in the workshop, “Human trafficking – Who cares?” – a movie that touched everyone. Every year 800,000 women and girls are forced into prostitution. Mudan, the main character, is one of these. Not more than 10 years old, she has to work in a brothel and her only hope – that her mother would come to get her and take her to America – was ruined.

Photo from Noble News Online

The participants of the workshop talked about the causes of human trafficking and what each one of us can do to bring it to an end. “Prayer is the most important step in the fight against human trafficking,” said Sven-Gunnar Liden, Leader of the Anti-Trafficking Network of the European Baptist Federation (EBF). The example of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig in 1989, where Christians gathered for prayer, led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and shows that prayer can change the world.

The German Anti-Trafficking Network has developed a so-called “employer check.” Employees, especially from Eastern Europe, may verify the reliability of their future foreign employer with the help of this check. For further information, please visit the German Baptist Union stand.


Shauna from Canada
What do you hope to get out of this conference?
“I hope that I’ll have a big experience with God and that I can carry that through the school year.”

Chasity from the USA
What did you like most about the opening day?
“I like the different ways that people worship God—like through singing, and dancing and sign language.”

Atavak from Germany
What do you like most about this type of conference?
“Meeting Christians from around the world and seeing how they live in other lands. I think it’s a good idea to see how people from other countries live their lives for Jesus.”

Samadder from Bangladesh
How is this conference important for the youth from your country?
“When I return to Bangladesh I can share with my friends to encourage them to go to church and to work for the church. There will be much benefit.”

Matthew from Jamaica
Why is this conference meaningful to Baptists in your country?
“It gives us the opportunity to come and fellowship with others.”

I wanna dive deeper!

Each speaker in the worship sessions, Bible studies and workshops is encouraging the Baptist Youth World Conference participants to “dive deeper.” The band, led by Juls and Matt Hollidge, is also supporting the theme with their original song. It is wonderful to hear the young people committing to Jesus as they sing.

Verse 1
You’re the first, the last, the everything
The heavens ring with stories of your fame
Your glorious name
Creation brings its praise to you
Each breath I breathe speaks echoes of your name
Again and again

And in your presence I can find
A love that knows no limits
You take me just for who I am
I’m Living Lord for Your glory

Stand up and live for you
Speak out my hope in you
Keep on running to you
Lord I wanna dive deeper

Verse 2
You’re the glorious and humble King
We come and lay our lives before your throne
To you alone
Awesome God and Holy One
We celebrate the power that you’ve shown
And grace that we’ve known



To see your freedom found in every heart
Justice in a world that’s torn apart
Let your kingdom come, your will be done
In everything we are and will become


©2008 Matt and Juls Hollidge/KOREmusic

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Global Village

By Jenny Williams

Beneath a sparkling glass dome lies Dive Deeper’s Global Village.

Bordered by rows of flourishing trees, it's like no one imagined: Part Arabian dream, part music-experience, part world-café and much more.

It's a fitting tribute to a conference which has seen more than 6,000 young people gather from areas as far reaching as Congo, Chile, and China.

The Global Village is just that: The world gathered in one small space. Here, young people can unite with others from a whole different culture. In its selection of spaces – which range from a music download experience, to a graffiti space, chilled meeting cafés, and discussion rooms – the Village promotes communication and friendship with strangers from foreign lands.

But its aim goes deeper: The Village facilities show that language needn’t be a barrier to friendship. Music, picture and prayer spaces have highlighted shared interests between those unable to communicate through spoken words.

Tiffany Lewis, 20, from Clapham Baptist Church in the United Kingdom, was relaxing with new friends in the world café. She said, “It's been so friendly, everyone says hello and wants to talk. I met someone yesterday and saw him again today, and we’ve all just sat down to get to know each other.”

As the Global Village goes to show, it's not such a big world after all.

Continuing the Plunge…

By Julie Justus

Participants of the 15th Baptist Youth World Conference continued to Dive Deeper this morning as they came together for a time of worship and Bible Study.

The Morning Gathering began with the musical gifts of Manassas Baptist Church and John Ivins, both groups from the United States of America. The conference worship band, headed by Juls and Matt Hollidge, led the attendees in songs to help them focus on diving deeper into faith.

The highlight of the morning was the Bible Study given by Nick Lear on the story of Jesus inviting himself to the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Nick urged the young people to examine their own lives to see if they are living for greed or if they are seeking a life filled with justice in the name of Jesus.

The students left the session to gather with their family groups as they explore the depths of what it means to be a global community in Christ.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baptist Youth World Conference Begins

By Eron Henry

More than 6,000 youth from nearly 90 countries gathered in the Leipzig Congress Center in eastern Germany for the opening session of the 15th Baptist Youth World Conference.

The conference, which began today, is the largest global gathering of Baptist youth, and is a celebration event that includes worship, fellowship, cultural exchanges, networking, evangelism and mission.

Opening night, which culminated with an address by Aaron George, a pastor and former youth director from the Caribbean island of Grenada, was a lesson in German history, depicted by a mime, a string quartet, singers, video and narration. Emotional moments in the history of the German nation – the reign of the Third Reich and the fall of the Berlin Wall – as well as Germany’s rich history in religion (Protestant reformer Martin Luther and Baptist pioneer Johann Gerhard Oncken) and music (Johann Sebastian Bach and Robert Schumann), were highlighted.

Greetings and welcome to the large gathering were brought by Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam, German Baptist Union General Secretary Regina Claas, BWA Youth Director Emmett Dunn, and mayor of the city of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung.

A “Global Village” opened this afternoon and will run the length of the conference. The village comprises four main areas, including the Global Exchange where participants may exchange information, discuss personal faith, and engage in theological sharing. There will also be discussions on social issues such as persecution of Christians and HIV/AIDS.

Global Prayer offers a garden tent for personal reflection. Described as “an oasis,” the garden tent will allow persons “to find time for yourself, to concentrate, to savor the peace, to get your thoughts in order to pray.”

The Global Sports and Funpark within the village allows youth to fellowship with persons from other countries as they participate in light sport and recreational activities such as volleyball, soccer, and basketball.

Youth will have an opportunity to reach out to communities in Leipzig, an eastern German city that is home to half a million people. On Saturday afternoon, conference participants will minister through music and arts in five locations around the city, followed by a large worship celebration in Leipzig’s city square.

The Baptist Youth World Conference is a global event planned by the BWA and is held every five years.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Youth Conference News

Youth from around the world are arriving in Leipzig, Germany, for the Baptist Youth World Conference which begins tomorrow evening. Check this blog daily for news and photos from the conference!