Last Sunday afternoon was my (Lorraine) second visit to the old colony villages (Doerfer). The young unmarried people in the colonies have an interesting tradition of literally being ‘out on the streets’ every Sunday afternoon, and these streets aren’t even close to the equivalent of any small-town main street in Canada. These are simply country dirt roads with farms along the way. Sometimes there are groups of guys lounging against a fence, perhaps huddled around a ‘verbotenen’ cassette player or discman. Last Sunday was very cold, so one group had built a small fire for some warmth. The girls are typically walking rather than sitting around. Perhaps they want to get in a little exercise!
This tradition presents a unique opportunity for us to visit with the young people and share the gospel with them. With the youth from our church (there are usually 9-10 of us), we drive out to the villages every 2nd Sunday afternoon. Our trip usually begins at 1:30, and ends at 6. Typically we’ll pull up beside a group of people, roll down the window, and ask if they want to hear some “Leider” (songs). Most are open to this, and then we all get out and start singing. Currently our favourite song to start with is “Wissen sollte jedermann”. Usually someone will say something, and then we’ll sing a few more songs, depending on the level of interest. Sometimes the young people don’t understand high-German that well, so one of our youth will translate. Before we leave again, we ask if they’d like some CD’s (“discos”) of songs or low-German sermons. These are always very much appreciated. People who’ve received CD’s before often say that they’ve listened to them and enjoyed them. Of course, CD players are strongly ‘verboten’, so there’ll usually only be one available amongst a group of guys.
There are of course always those that think this is some great joke, and mock us, but there are also those that do seem to show a longing on their faces, or at least appear attentive rather than scornful. In larger groups, the guys often feel the need to appear ‘macho’, and laugh off the need for salvation, but in speaking to some of them individually, some of the barriers start to break down, and they admit their longings for something different in their lives. In any case, it is only our job to scatter the seed – God needs to prepare the hearts and bring the fruit. Prayer is absolutely essential in this work!
A few other interesting observations: The girls are more scared and rather ‘skittish’, and you can tell by their expressions that they know listening to us is ‘verboten’, and they aren’t totally comfortable with it. Some of the guys are often more openly rebellious overall, (they quite nonchalantly drink beer and pull out their cigarettes), and aren’t that easily scared off. It also seems as if the guys are somewhat easier to reach; perhaps with their more openly sinful lifestyles, they see their need of Christ and redemption more clearly.
- That God would prepare and open hearts for our next visit.
- That God would direct us in which villages to visit, and bring out the people that need to hear His message.
- That the Holy Spirit would continue to work in the hearts of those with whom we’ve already had contact, and would show them their need for a Saviour.
- That some of the young people would be interested in having us come to do a youth group with them.
- For protection during these visits.
- That we would continue to have the freedom to make these visits (we have already received one anonymous threatening phone call commanding us to stop making these visits).