Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gauteng Youth Gathering – March 2015

Only those of us who have organized such an event can possibly understand the myriad of details and challenges that are involved. From finding a suitable venue, confirming dates, planning meals, activities and lessons, to the nitty-gritty of remembering to pack enough toilet paper - there are a lot of things that need to come together successfully for the event to be the experience that you want it to be for those attending. In South Africa the two biggest challenges we face when wanting to host any event, whether it is a day-long fraternal or week -long camp, are finances and transport. The youth that we want to have attend and benefit from such an event do not have either, and these two factors hugely influence the location, venue and duration of the event. 

These two factors, finances & transportation, were the two things that made it clear to us that "Youth Weeks" were no longer viable for our demographic. However we know how much the youth benefit from what is likely their only chance to "get out" of the squalor they live in every day. We also know that these camps provide them with a very real taste of the Kingdom to come, and as such these camps are an excellent source of encouragement as well as biblical education. 
With this in mind we (Hendri & Liezl Viljoen, Michael & myself) brainstormed ideas on how best to provide the youth with the benefits of a camp without the excessive costs we struggled to cover while hosting the youth week last year. We came up with the idea of hosting two "mini-camps" which we call "Youth Gatherings" - where we use a cheaper, closer venue and only stay over one night. Here follows the photographic report on the first such gathering of this year:   
With the much shorter time-frame we endeavoured to use the time we had as effectively as we could! We slotted in four "Praise & Worship" sessions along with four "Study Sessions" over the weekend. The studies were very practical and aimed at motivating us to live out our hope in Christ in a way that would inspire others to join us in our walk to the Kingdom.  
Digging into God's Word during the first study session on Saturday morning. 
We had two "Games Sessions" - one in the afternoon and another in the evening. We played outdoor games in the afternoon - with the "hands-free balloon relay" being the most entertaining to play and watch! 
Hands-free balloon relay underway - Keletso just lost his balloon! 
During the afternoon the youth were split into three teams and given the challenge of building a fort out of scrap wood, as well as painting a flag for their team. Our goal with this challenge was to keep everyone constructively occupied and ensure that everyone felt included at all times. We were very pleased at how well this worked as the guys learned some construction skills and the girls chatted away while painting their flags.  
Michael explaining the challenge to a slightly apprehensive group! 
The guys learning how to use a hammer and nails! 
At first the teams didn't have a very clear idea of where to begin when constructing a fort - so Michael & Hendri demonstrated by building one of their own. After that most of the teams quickly created some fort-like structures.  
Team "Strikas" in front of their fort. Each team had to create a name using at least one letter from each team member's name. Underneath their name it says "Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and one is gold".  
Team "Dragons" 
Team "Pirates"which they claim is just the shortened version of "Pyro-technics..."
Two of the studies were also "object lessons" about being the "salt of the earth" and a "light unto the world", the latter occurring later in the evening so as to be more effective! 
Each person received a candle to demonstrate how we should let our lights shine most effectively. 
The evening games session was a whole lot of fun! Much to the attendees' delight we played several brand new games - all of which were great fun to play and very entertaining to watch!  
This game requires the player to eat several food items and drink a soda as fast as they can - while their hands are taped around a ball! Here the twins are competing against each other! 
The classic "toilet paper mummy" game.  
This is an hilarious, fast paced, game. Players take turns rolling a dice; when you roll a 6 you have to dress in the clothes provided and try to eat as much of a chocolate bar using only a knife and fork before the next 6 is rolled.  
We ended the evening games session with a "fort war" which tested the strength of each team's fort. Once all the forts were destroyed we used the wood to build a massive bonfire, around which we incinerated marshmallows and drank hot chocolate while enjoying an impromptu praise session.   
The bonfire - those are adult males for scale.
We all left the gathering energized and encouraged spiritually, and with the happy assurance that this was a winning recipe! As such we have already committed to hosting another such weekend during the July holidays. 

Each attendee received a surprise gift - a T-shirt with a picture of a salt shaker and a lightbulb and the words "Be these" written underneath. 

This picture perfectly captured the energy and fun that characterized this weekend together! 
We would like to express our gratitude to the Many Seeds Ministries organization for providing the funding that made this incredibly special, memorable weekend possible. We also praise and glorify our heavenly Father for blessing this event - we know that we are only His labourers and we are privileged to play our part in spreading His Good News through such events.  
With love in Christ
 Michael &; Lilandi Furstenburg &; Hendri & Liezl Viljoen
Matt 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."