(by Jermer Cruz, Fulltime Pastoral Worker)
Part of my Taize experience is that I was able to go to Berlin, Germany as a participant of their annual Young Adult European Meeting. It was held in Messe Berlin and over 30,000 young people all over Europe attended and participated in that meeting. I was one of those very blessed non-European participants who were invited by the community that took part in the gathering. I never thought that I would experience these much! But God is not done yet. He said in John 1:50, “You will see greater things than these!” And I did!
Being in Berlin never entered my mind. Eating on their streets with German sausages and burgers, seeing the beauty of their street lights during Christmas and New Year season, going to the place where Berlin wall was once built and is now part of the world history, and being with the Berliner were some of the factors why the city captured my senses. Experiencing the city during winter was something very capturing as well. But more than the city experience, the European Meeting struck me so much with more than what my eyes saw and met.
I was hosted in a German family, the Wagner family. Ralf and Claudia have the two daughters but not living with them anymore. So when we were there, together with Charles from Uganda, they treated us as their own sons. They were so warm and accommodating and we really felt that were at home. They never allowed us to get hungry nor slept ahead of us when we are not home yet. They made us sleep in a nice bed and really prepared everything for us. They were really God’s instruments for us to experience the hospitality of the people from there and for us to experience family in a foreign country.
Being part of that European Meeting was like having my second World Youth Day; meeting people from different nations, everyone is smiling at each other even though they were not acquainted, the vibrancy of young volunteers, the fun dynamics of people’s characters, groups playing in different corners, cheers and yell of everyone, everything! We had different workshops, completely diverse according to one’s interest and own personal development. It ranged from topic about going out on mission, up to meeting some members of the Germany’s Parliament government, also meeting some of the real survivors of the Berlin Wall era, and even up to listening to some classical music by Berlin Chorale. By the last day, we had meeting of nations and I attended those coming from different continents and we shared how we can start and form new solidarity in our own countries. Such inspiration especially from Asian delegates!
One thing that also really amazed me was how courageous the community is in putting up such event, in a country’s capital where Christianity is already a minority. People in Berlin, if not anymore, rarely talk about God, especially the young people. And I know that gathering of seekers of faith made a statement in that place. Bringing people there and making a loud statement that we all need God was really remarkable. Which reminded me of our call as Christians: we are called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). How? By telling them and showing them who Jesus Christ is thru our lives. It also gave me encouragement that anywhere we go, we should make Jesus famous because this is the good life! No social status quo, no political condition, no belief prejudices, nothing should stop nor hinder us from proclaiming Christ to people.
Participating in that European meeting gave me a clear picture that Christianity in that continent has hope. Outside looking in, I thought that Europe needs people from other continents for their re-evangelization. But no, they already have their own. They just need to be bold and brave enough to declare their faith and trust in God!
Undeniably, European Meeting by the Taize community left a very good experience in me that I will carry all throughout my life. I just hope and pray it made more impact to my brothers and sisters in that continent and may they continue to live out the lifestyle that they learned in that meeting. For the best way to share Christ is to live out His character in our own lives. Amen.