Daniel, 24, and Lennart, 21, two brothers from The Netherlands, have been attending TeenStreet (TS) since they were old enough to register. Once they got too old, they continued coming as Service Team members. Although they joined separate groups as teenagers and subsequently volunteered in different areas, this year, for the first time, they’re serving together as photographers on the Communications Team.
Sitting across from each other at the photography desk backstage, the brothers considered what working together for the next 10 days would entail. Daniel was excited to share the experience with his brother. “Last year, you were so busy with the sports team, we hardly had a chance to talk,” he told his brother. “Now we’re sharing a desk.”
Ducking behind his opened laptop screen to avoid Daniel’s gaze, Lennart offered his own input on the brotherly collaboration: “I think a nice expectation would be not to kill each other halfway through the week.”
Jokes aside, Lennart and Daniel agreed they’re looking forward to being part of “the first link between TeenStreet and the outside world.” Daniel explained, “We’re the ones providing information for people back home…telling them what’s happening here, asking people for their support, for prayer, showing them the joy that is TeenStreet.”
With 19 years of TS experience between them, Daniel and Lennart said being here feels like coming home. Not because TS resembles their town of Ijmuiden, about 25km west of Amsterdam; rather the annual international youth congress has taught them their faith community extends around the globe. “When all you know is your own little church, your world is really small. Every since I came to TeenStreet, I have friends in the States, friends in Africa, friends in Australia,” Daniel said. “The knowledge to be part of a worldwide family really puts things into perspective for me.”
After Germany, The Netherlands is the most represented country at TeenStreet. This year, 604 participants from 99 churches will join the TS experience. Although Dutch teens have multiple other options to attend youth camps closer and cheaper to where they live, many still choose TS, said Paul, Home Office Representative for OM in the Netherlands.
Both Daniel and Lennart said their early years at TS were influential in transforming their personal relationships with God. “My first year of TeenStreet played an important role for me deciding to get baptized and give my life to the Lord,” Daniel explained. “When you grow up being a Christian, there’s always this knowledge the Lord is there for you. You know all the stories, but still it’s waiting for that moment when you yourself can say, ‘Yes, this is what I want to live for. Jesus is the one I want to give my life to.’” At TeenStreet 2005, he made that decision, but after counsel from his coach, Daniel went home and waited a few months before being baptized in January 2006.
Lennart’s first couple years at TeenStreet consisted of having fun with friends and pillow fights with the German and Irish teens. But a few years in, one TS band member spoke about how knowledge of God can be “all in your head and not in your heart.”
“I experienced it the same way,” Lennart remembered. He went to the prayer room during a worship session and asked a coach to pray for him. “My knowledge of God is all in my head, but I want to feel it in my heart,” Lennart told him. The coach placed his hand on Lennart’s heart and started to pray. “I felt a really warm sensation from my heart all over my body. It was real. I could feel it,” he described. “That was the turning point in my relationship with God.”
For, Paul, too, attending TS was pivotal to his faith. “TeenStreet is the reason I still believe in Jesus,” he said. During the years following his first time at TS as a teen, he learned what it meant to be connected to Christ. “That’s what I hope for all the teens this year as well, that they will be connected and stay connected to Christ.”