It feels like the whole world has shrunk to just a few square metres: Africa is next to Berlin, Switzerland next to Canada and from Stuttgart to Afghanistan it is only a few metres. During the International Youth Convention, the District Churches and District Apostle Areas of the New Apostolic Church present themselves. A short journey through countries and cultures.
The night from Friday to Saturday seems to have been short for some of the IYC participants. They lie resting on the blue carpet in front of the show stage. But perhaps this is characteristic for the area of District Apostle Wolfgang Nadolny: In Berlin, the night is often turned into day - and sometimes it happens the other way round.
Besides the federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg, many countries belong to Nadolny's area. Some of them awaken longings in the visitors: "Oh, the green Silk Route – I always wanted to go there," says Svenja (17). Maybe she will do that at some point. But this time, there is no need for a flight, because all countries in the care of the District Apostle are represented at the IYC stand. In an Uzbek room, young people sit down at low tables and sample the snacks offered. A few metres away there are spices and souvenirs.
Christiane looks after the “Spätkauf”, something typical for Berlin: kiosks open around the clock, where you can buy drinks, food and more. Also the young people at the IYC profit from this: here they can get sweets, chocolate and more.
Southeast Asia and West Pacific
Of the about 7.4 million people living in Hong Kong, 59 are New Apostolic. They meet for divine services in a small apartment on the 20th floor of a skyscraper. These and other facts about New Apostolic life in Asian countries can be found at the stand of the areas of District Apostles Peter Schulte and Edy Isnugrohu. On the show stage there are angklungs – typical musical instruments - to try out. Some of the IYC visitors obviously have talent for it, and you can hear melodies from New Apostolic hymnals.
Anyone who speaks of the "Big Five" on this continent actually has animals in mind: on a safari, you want to see elephants, buffalos, rhino, lions and leopards. Under this title, the five areas of the District Apostles John Leslie Kriel, Charles S. Ndandula, Michael D. Deppner, Joseph Opemba Ekhuya and Tshitshi Tshisekedi represent themselves on a stand. They offer IYC visitors a journey through the continent.
In Hall 6, African congregations have laid a carpet depicting the outlines of the individual countries and their capitals. Those who take the tour will meet lions and cheetahs, meet people in colourful robes, and can listen to the boys from Acoustic Element on the show stage and later talk to them. Meeting people in Africa is easy - this is also reflected on the stand.
Africa also plays a role here, as some countries of the continent are pastorally cared for from the south of Germany. Apart from this, the area of District Apostle Michael Ehrich has focused on themes like mindfulness in dealing with one another, and on the academy where New Apostolic ministers, and others who play an active role in the church, are trained. Those who focus more on communication than on knowledge can travel around the world via Skype: In Lagos, Freetown and other places around the world, young people and older brothers and sisters connect several times a day with the participants of the IYC to get to know each other.
The District Apostle of this area should not be afraid of flying: His territory stretches from French Guiana in South America via Portugal and Iran to New Caledonia. What could be more obvious than to turn the church district's stand into a kind of departure hall with tower and flight simulator? The latter is particularly popular with IYC visitors: they queue up to take off for five minutes.
"We started planning one and a half years ago," says stand supervisor Priest Uwe Kalke. Countries and districts were asked to participate with one exhibit each, and most of them took part: Belgium contributed a fountain with a “Manneken Pis”, a bicycle came from Münster, and a gasometer from the Ruhr area. On Friday, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider dropped by and let himself be photographed with a photo of fashion model Claudia Schiffer. She may not be New Apostolic, but she comes from the same place as District Apostle Rainer Storck ...
Organisationally, also this country belongs to the working area of District Apostle Rainer Storck. Nevertheless, the French people have set up their own booth, and those who paid attention on the IYC know why: the young people from France love the special appearance. After events, they usually move together into hall 6, wear the same caps and have set up a programme that makes their stand a popular meeting place. By the way: The song that the French love to sing was already their anthem at the EYC in 2009: It is called "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes.
Another district from the area of District Apostle Storck; and one more stand in Hall 6. The Netherlands catch attention with tulips and bicycle romance, moreover, they offer freshly-baked poffertjes, a kind of pancake.
Northern- and Eastern Germany
Outside the sun is shining, inside, IYC visitors take pictures of each other in a typical rain coat, called “Friesennerz”. This is what people expect from northern Germany: It is rainy, cold - and at the same time beautiful. At the booth of the district of Apostle Rüdiger Krause, they flirt with this cliché. They have built up a beach with chairs and sun loungers and offer visitors the chance to disguise themselves and take pictures of it again and again. However, the stand offers more: a prayer room for miners, shower facilities for the minors (called “Kaue”). These contributions are presented, because also Eastern Germany with its ore mines counts to the scope of Apostle Krause. In posters and in a film about the “Kaue”, an exciting connection between mining and religious life is established. What, for example, does it mean to be purified? How do we deal with our environment as God’s creation? These and other questions are posed, the answer has to be found by each visitor for himself.
Was es auch gibt: einen Andachtsraum für Bergarbeiter, eine Kaue, denn die Gebietskirche zählt auch Ostdeutschland mit seinen Erzbergwerken zu ihrem Zuständigkeitsbereich. In Plakaten und einem Film wird in der Kaue ein spannender Zusammenhang zwischen Bergbau und dem Glaubensleben hergestellt. Was zum Beispiel heißt es, geläutert zu werden? Wie gehen wir mit unserer Schöpfung um? Diese und andere Fragen werden gestellt, die Antwort darf jeder Besucher für sich selbst finden.
Austria and Switzerland
Those who took part in the European Youth Day 2009, know that Austrians and people from Switzerland like a rural atmosphere. That's why their booth at the IYC was built up in an alpine character, showing village idyll and cowbell romance. It feels like this stand is one of the most popular in Hall 6, which is probably due to the culinary offerings: Apple strudel, topfen strudel (made from curd cheese), coffee, peanut flips - and all sorts of programmes on the stage in front of the hut. Incidentally, the programme should also be interesting for night owls: Also late in the evening, you can meet young people celebrating and enjoying together. The efforts to build up the stand have been high. The designers of the booth tried to offer a piece of homeland to the IJT visitors, which worked out very well. Moreover, the young people, belonging to the area of District Apostle Jürg Zbinden, went into the forest already months before the IYC in order to cut the wood for the decoration. The trees next to the alpine hut were driven to Düsseldorf in several truck loads. A lot of work, but also the greatest possible sense of fellowship.
The efforts to build up the stand have been high. The designers of the booth tried to offer a piece of homeland to the IJT visitors, which worked out very well. Moreover, the young people, belonging to the area of District Apostle Jürg Zbinden, went into the forest already months before the IYC in order to cut the wood for the decoration. The trees next to the alpine hut were driven to Düsseldorf in several truck loads. A lot of work, but also the greatest possible sense of fellowship.
Anyone who has already been to this country before, knows that all people, including New Apostolic Christians, have to travel long distances there. But the visitor also knows how beautiful this country is. At the stand of District Apostle Mark Woll you can get a little smell of the vastness of the landscape, campfire feeling and the sweet flavour of maple syrup. A large country, a small stand, but nice opportunities to get into conversation.
North, South and Central America
A sip of mate tea, an introduction to tango dancing and exciting conversations in three languages - all this is available at the stand of the congregations of the District Apostles Leonard R. Kolb, Raul Montes de Oca and Enrique Eduardo Minio. In English, German and Spanish, young people from different countries are talking about their faith and the characteristics in their countries. For example, that in North American congregations people like to stay together for dinner after Sunday divine services because the distances from their homes to the churches are very far and the members of the congregations often live hours apart from each other.
The result of this special trip around the world: With the design of their booth, many district churches deliberately play with clichés and ideas that people from abroad might have about their countries. In Hall 6 they are either cleared up or explained. A successful approach for a fellowship of believers in Christ.