Writing for the Forever Media Team, I was given the task to follow an outreach team from Paris, France for a day. The idea seemed so simple: follow a team, hear their story, write about what they are doing, and then move onto the next story. It would have been that simple except that this particular team was so inspiring, so encouraging, and so passionate about evangelism, that long after we had parted ways I was left thinking about the impact they had made, not just in the city of London, but on my life as well.
We set out early in the morning to make the 15-minute walk to Harpenden train station. The Team Leader, Judith Ann Robertson, began telling the story of the team. “This is a team of 14, made up of teenagers from the ages of 14–20. They love dancing and singing, but their real passion is evangelism and sharing their faith. Each summer we go to the south of France to do urban hip-hop dancing, rapping and singing on the streets to reach out to the people of Marseille. Last year, while there, the riots were happening in London, and to my surprise, the students talked about the negative impact teens their age seem to make on the world around them. I challenged them, if they were up for it, to return to London a year later for the 2012 Olympic Games. So here we are, a team full of students that want to tell people about Jesus and show the world that youth can make a positive impact.”
Judith went on to describe the preparation for this trip, getting parents to agree, connecting with the Forever team to schedule their outreach, and organising weekly two-to-three hour practices. By the time we made it to the train station, I was already amazed at their dedication to long hours of training and a passion to be different from the culture around them. Boarding the train into London, team member Rebecca Laulan, age 15, sat down and told her story. “I am so excited being around this group that loves Jesus. In my school it is really hard to be a Christian. They watch me very carefully and expect me to be perfect, so when I mess up, they make sure to joke about it. I feel so free to be myself here, and we have spent so many hours practising our routines, so I am happy that it is finally here. I really hope that I can tell people about Jesus or at least get them thinking about their need for a saviour. I have done a lot of evangelism in French, but now I am ready for the challenge of telling people the gospel in English.”
Talking to Rebecca about living life as a Christian in a culture that values secularism, I could see that at an age where most teens are concerned about pleasing their peers, she instead had strength in her relationship with Christ and a genuine desire to see others know Jesus’ love.
Finally in London, we began making our way towards Westminster for their first performance of their week-long outreach. The group began to get anxious and ready to begin. Earphones in, listening to their music, practising their dances and rehearsing their entrance cues, the excitement was building and they only wanted to get the show started. When asked if they were ready or if they were nervous, I expected a timid response, but instead I heard a resounding, “We are never nervous, we are confident and ready to go!” This group has spunk.
At show time in front of Westminster, the rain was pouring down and the bells ringing loudly around them owing to the three-hour Olympic marathon event. Even soaking wet and with their music being drowned out, there was no hint of discouragement as they continued with power and attitude. They sang, did skits, and danced to songs in French and English, declaring that Jesus is Lord. It was obvious they had spent months preparing, and those long hours paid off.
Alena Majdling, 18, while sitting watching her team perform, stated: “I am not on the dancing team, because I came here more to interact with the crowd and talk to them after the programme is over. I really love evangelism, and I have learned how to be strong in my identity in Christ because of how difficult it has been to be a Christian in France. When I was young in my faith, I wanted to fit in with my friends, but now I know more of who I am and I know more of who Jesus is and I am proud of it.”
All at once, the bells stopped ringing, the clouds cleared away and crowds from all over began to form around these teenagers from France. These young people are living counter-culture to the status quo of their generation. They are so passionate about letting people know about Jesus they have given up their school holidays with their friends and family to tell the world about their Saviour. These teenagers after just a few hours have given me hope that youth can change the world. With a week of shows lined up and a schedule packed with evangelism opportunities, only time will tell how God uses them in His Olympic story.