Youth Convention for 1,000 young people in Burkina Faso. Chief Apostle Schneider and the youth from Europe make a visit to West Africa – part 1 of 2

4 years ago | nacworld News | in the group nacworld NEWS: Regional / regional

1,000 youngsters from the two West African countries of Burkina Faso and Nigeria came together on the weekend of 15th and 16th January 2014 for their first youth convention. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider, several European Apostles and a youth group from Europe, who did a majority of the organisation, were also there.

nacworld spoke with Rainer Stopka und Marylène Schleich, who helped with the organisation of the convention, and had travelled to “the Land of upright people”, as the name “Burkina Faso” translates.

Who are you? Tell us something about yourselves.

Rainer Stopka: I am Rainer Stopka. I am 44 years old, married with 2 daughters and I serve as Priest and youth group leader in the congregation of Grünstadt, in the Elder district of Ludwigshafen, in the district church of Hessen/Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland.

Marylène Schleich: My name is Marylène Schleich. I live in Bascharage, in the country of Luxemburg. I am 42 years old, am married and the mother of 2 children. I have two functions in our church: a) District youth counsellor b) Organiser for the children at the district level.

What made this journey so special, and what would you definitely do differently the next time you travel?

Rainer Stopka: My missionary visits up to now were to seminars or visits accompanying my Apostle. What was so special this time was this first time visit. This has been the very first youth convention in this country, and that with the Chief Apostle. That won’t happen again so soon. By the way, many of the youth have left their villages for the first time. Naturally, the organisation was faced with a special challenge and it could only work with a well-functioning team. We are very thankful that everything worked out so well.

Marylène Schleich: I was in West Africa for the first time in December 2013, for the preparation of this youth convention, so that an event of this size, in a missionary country, was new territory for me and therefore a unique and special experience. What was especially distinctive was the fact that the majority of the youth from Burkina Faso and Nigeria were able to see a Chief Apostle live for the very first time. Many of their parents had to make a great sacrifice, for instance to sell a sheep and so on, to enable their children to make this journey possible. I found that particularly moving and impressive. For the next time I would wish that the youth convention could last two or three days longer. It was simply too short.

Where does Fada N´Gourma lie and how do you get there?

Rainer Stopka: Fada lies 220 kilometres south of the capital city, Ouagadougou. You can fly to there via Paris, and from Ouga there is a well-surfaced road.

Just take a flight, or ... how do you prepare yourself for such a journey?

Rainer Stopka: Apart from the special organisational preparations for this journey (as well as the many preparation journeys, much preparation has to be carried out beforehand from Europe) there are certain standards to be met. For instance, a doctor’s tropical health examination is necessary and a comprehensive vaccination protection programme must be completed. Then, of course, the identity documents must be up to date. Additionally, the administration office sent us information documents and a travel check list. We were able to inform our youth through an information presentation.

Marylène Schleich: Unfortunately, it isn’t quite so easy. A large amount of the preparation had to be carried out at home before we were able to fly in December. Materials had to be purchased; we had to familiarise ourselves with the African culture, the three days had to be planned very carefully (location, erecting the altar, chairs and benches, discussions, accommodation, eating arrangements for 1,200 youth, organisation of sports and games, hospitals had to be made available, police protection had to be organised, public address systems with the possibility to translate in four languages, and and and ...). Then, we had to organise the accommodation and eating arrangements for the Chief Apostle and his accompanying party, for the local district ministers, as well as for the European youth. Flights and transport at the locality also had to be planned in detail in advance. Personally, I also had to make many of my own preparations, where this was somewhat more difficult for me, as female and mother, than for our church ministers who regularly travel to the missionary districts. The following points had to be arranged: vaccination against various diseases, ordering a visa, the consulate is in Brussels, organising transport to and from the airport, organising my household during my absence (sick son-in-law in the house, a son who couldn’t travel because he was in the university, 2 dogs to take care of, and so on.

Who else was there, apart from you two, and how did you get on with each other?

Rainer Stopka: We were in a group of 20 youths from Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium. We got on super with each other and made many friends together, and then the Chief Apostle, District Apostles Brinkmann, Deppner and Koberstein and the Apostles Opdenplatz, Lindemann, Gomis, Traoré, Mendy and Apostle Clément Haeck, the local responsible Apostle, were also there. The fellowship with these men of God was a special experience.

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