Teens in Montenegro
Will and Jess and their children moved from the USA to Montenegro in 2019 to serve with OM. In this small country on the Adriatic Sea northwest of Albania, fewer than one percent of the population identify as evangelical Jesus followers.
All of the teens from the local church attended the TeenStreet Balkans event, so Will and Jess went along to get to know these young people they would be working with. They saw significant changes in the teens after the event, so they built on what the teens learned and experienced at TeenStreet. Will and Jess are excited to see them grow from being focused on themselves to thinking of others and taking the first steps of reaching out to people around them with the message of God's love.
The teens had no experience with interactive Bible studies and discussions. However, TeenStreet helped them learn to engage with the Bible, discuss what they read and learn, and actively seek to grow in their understanding and faith. Will and Jess say, “As we have been incorporating things from TeenStreet into our small group, we see that they are becoming more open … they are better equipped to encourage each other.”
Through activities begun at TeenStreet, most of the teens in the church group decided they needed mentors to aid in the growth. Because the teens initiated this, Will and Jess were able to launch a mentoring program to disciple these young people and help equip them to be adult followers of Jesus.
A significant step for the teens was learning to think of others and realize the need for others to know Jesus. The group has begun small forms of outreach in their community, and Will and Jess hope this will grow. TeenStreet began a life-changing process for these teens, helping them make their faith and walk with God real as they put what they learn into action.
The Story of Peighton (16)
Peighton has participated in five TeenStreet events, beginning when she was 11 years old. The very first event had an impact on her life, which has continued. She grew up in church, her mother was in youth ministry and Peighton had trusted Jesus, but in a powerful moment during worship at TeenStreet, something changed. She says, “In that moment, my relationship with the Lord became my own, and it became real to me.”
She says that at first, she felt insecure about what people would think of her, but participating in TeenStreet helped her get past that. Seeing other teens and adults praying, worshiping and being vulnerable made her want what they had. The time spent in a small group at the large event was important as she and the others were able to discuss topics, share what they were learning and then also have private time alone with the Lord.
Now, Peighton is bold about her faith and talks to anyone God puts in her path. People have told her she's a light as she walks in such freedom and talks of her relationship with God. She also began a podcast that she says is “all about Jesus.” She says, “It was pretty scary, but I knew people need to hear about Jesus, and this is a sweet story of what Jesus has done in me.” Listeners have thanked her for sharing the message, saying it was exactly what they needed. Peighton says that now she faces every situation asking “Jesus, what do you want me to do?” She says, “I'm always talking about Him.” She has been involved in mission trips outside her country and is excited about further involvement in international missions.
TeenStreet's Long Reach
Aaron, from Malaysia, attended TeenStreet as a teen and then as a young adult, along with friends from his local fellowship. Now 31 years old, he is still using things he learned there to impact another generation of young people in his own country and in Cambodia. “TeenStreet sparked and rekindled the fire in us to love God and obey Him. The lessons that we learned helped us in our walk with Jesus, and we wanted to see the same in other teens—for them to be on fire and live out the Gospel.”
When Aaron's church organized a trip to Cambodia to run a youth camp, he modeled it after TeenStreet, using what he had learned. Nearly 100 teens from 10 villages attended, and Aaron and his team taught the Bible using the creative methods they had experienced. The church has returned to Cambodia in the following years to continue the youth camp. The theme always mirrors the heartbeat of TeenStreet: loving God and loving people. They have taught the teens components from TeenStreet, such as how to spend time alone with the Lord, small group discipleship where a more mature Christian mentors groups of teens, and how to support one another and discuss what they're learning from Scripture.
Not only has the camp affected the lives of young people in Cambodia, but Aaron and his team continue to use the same TeenStreet components with young people back home, helping them grow as followers of Jesus.
The Story of Lachlan and Tiffany
Lachlan and Tiffany, from Australia, have served as full-time OM workers in Albania for two years, but it all began with TeenStreet.
Tiffany grew up in the church and went to several TeenStreet events in Australia. She says, “One of the years I went, we talked about how your parents' faith is not your own. That was something that hit my heart really hard.” It led to her deciding, “Yes, Christianity is what I want, God is what I want.” She began to think of life in relation to God rather than thinking only of what she would like to do.
Meanwhile, Lachlan hadn't grown up in a Christian home, but Tiffany's brother invited him to TeenStreet. He says, “That was the first time I'd heard anything spiritual … It was so clear to me in that week that this was the real thing, this was the truth. TeenStreet played a big role in my being open to having Jesus in my life and eventually accepting Him as God and Savior.”
Tiffany and Lachlan met at TeenStreet. She says, “Each year that we've gone, there's been either something on our hearts or a decision we needed to pray through. It's really been a help spending a week with Jesus and not having distractions and having people who are there to help. For us, that was a huge part of deciding to date, deciding to get married, and also to open up space to go on a mission trip. We went to Nepal for two weeks while we were dating, and it really affected how we thought of missions.”
Lachlan says, “TeenStreet played a big role from coming to a real, living faith to providing a space where, in the midst of the year, we could put our entire focus on who Jesus is and what He wants from our lives, what He's saying to us now. And it has really grown us every time as we try to live this out day to day.” TeenStreet was also key in the couple moving into missions. “It played a big role in our hearing from God and also by giving us opportunity to hear from missionaries and go on a short-term mission trip,” Lachlan says.
The first time I encountered the Holy Spirit was in Teenstreet Germany when I was 15 years old! I was so overcome by his love for me! I felt peace like I had never felt it before! All anxiety and worry left my body!
I would still sometimes feel that peace but found it hard to connect with the Lord for many years until returning to Teenstreet 12 years later, in Australia this time! Here I encountered his sweet presence all over again, but this time there was no way I was letting it go! I wanted to stay in his presence everyday! Since that day I have lived out of his presence and can feel him so close everyday! His tangible presence!
I will never forget the massive impact
Teenstreet had on my life and still does today
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TeenStreet is more than an event. It is a movement of young people discovering abundant life with Jesus in connection with others.