With 19 countries officially registered and participants from 41 different nations participating this year, TeenStreet (TS) Europe is pretty international. But did you know that there is actually a global network of TeenStreets?
Operation Mobilisation (OM), TS’s parent organisation, serves in over 100 countries. TS has already taken place in 14 of them, including Australia, Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines. Counting TS Europe, over 8,000 people participate every year! Now, OM’s international leadership wants to see that network extended even further, as TS is made part of OM’s global mobilisation strategy. “We would like to have these teens understand that they are part of something bigger,” said Ewout, director of TS International.
OM wants to mobilise the global body of Christ and help them understand what it means to be Jesus followers, make Jesus followers and focus on the least-reached. “We believe the teenage generation is a crucial generation because a lot of decisions are being made,” Ewout explained.
However, not only teens are impacted at TS. “It is a discipleship structure,” he emphasised. “The absolute core of TS is the small group.” No matter where TS takes place, the teens will always have coaches, who have M&Ms (ministry and mentoring leaders), who have Home Office Representatives (or other mentors). Everyone hears the same messages.
Of course, there are also differences. TS Europe is by far the largest, averaging 3,000 to 4,000 participants, while other TeenStreets have about 100. TS Australia takes a tea break in the middle of its Main Hall, and instead of camping on the floor with 1,000 others like at TS Europe, teens go to bed in their ‘own rooms’ (university dorms) at 22:30. Meanwhile, TS MENA (Middle East North Africa) is just finishing up dinner then, and teens spend hours afterward dancing and playing football outside on dimly lit fields.
Starting a new TS
Leila*, the director of TS MENA, had attended TS Europe eight times, as a Coach and an M&M, before starting the pilot programme in the Arab world. Talks about starting TS MENA had been going on for five years before she moved to the Middle East. Then she arrived and got the job of launching and directing TS there—by mistake.
“I misunderstood a whole conversation in Arabic, and when I walked out, I was the director of TS MENA,” she shared. It was a big responsibility and “a crash course in learning the Arab culture and how to adapt things, making [TS] culturally relevant,” she remembered. “It has to be local, even though a lot of things are new.”
Thankfully, a few local friends came alongside her and helped mould the TS concept into something that worked there. “It’s the same vision and values [as TS Europe], and during the event, a lot of the schedule is the same… but it is adapted to the culture,” she noted. And everything is in Arabic.
With the fifth TS MENA under her belt, Leila can now begin to see TS’s impact on young people. “Teens…have come back to God, have realised that Jesus is relevant, not just something for old people in churches—that’s the long-term result we start to get a hint of,” she said.
Like at TS Europe, teens at TS MENA are challenged to go home and reflect Jesus in their daily world. “Their world is a Muslim country. Their world is the least reached,” Leila said.
A major benefit of TS, therefore, is the chance for teens to connect with other believers, understand they are not alone in their faith and learn how to share Jesus in their own contexts. “Most people think TS is the event, which is a big part of it for sure, but what excites me about it, is we have all this potential in these young people and how God wants to use that in their lives,” Leila said. “It’s about being a part of their journey and what God wants to do with them. It is about reflecting Him wherever He calls them to be.”
Several months ago, a team from Europe (who had all been to TS in Germany) travelled to the Middle East and met several volunteers from TS MENA. Over a few cups of strong, Arabic coffee, the two groups connected, “just sharing their lives with each other, getting to know each other,” Leila described. That’s when TS MENA came to life for the Europeans. For the Arabs, she said, “it was encouraging to see that we have brothers and sisters [in Christ] from somewhere else.”
That’s what the TS global network is all about.
There are currently proposals for new TeenStreets in the US, Canada, Africa, South Asia and in Hong Kong, for the Chinese-speaking world. Who knows where TS will pop up next!
*Name changed for security