Looking at the map of Global Youth Day 2016, (www.globalyouthday.org ) we can evaluate the “traffic” of activities done by the youth. I notice an interesting fact contemplating Europe: the highest numbers are from Belgium and Luxembourg. We contacted the people in charge, and here's what they told us.
“As you may have read in the news, Brussels is going through a difficult time at the moment” said Andreea Lasco Burca, one of the organizers in Bruxelles. There have been shootings and various anti-terrorist interventions this past week. This has prevented groups from getting authorization needed for any activities, “so we all had to change our plans at the last minute, but God was good!”
“We've met people and made friends, shared books, ideas, smiles and hugs, small gifts, food, flowers and songs.
“The most wonderful of it all is that today's activity kindled a flame in our soul to unite our efforts and organize such activities more often.”
The Romanian group thanked the local Police for their services and for offering special protection during the terror threats. “Our church is very close to the troubled area and during Code Red we were having an evangelistic series which we were crazy enough not to cancel” said Andreea, “During this time the police kept checking on us, making sure we were safe, and we wanted to thank them.”
The numbers in Belgium and Luxembourg speak clearly: 13 churches have been active (compared to 3 in 2015) with approximately 450 participants.
The animated activities by the young people were really exciting:
A "March of Hope" through six city squares in the centre of Brussels (including the Grand Place), free hugs, exchanging fruit for a cigarette, giving away roses, thank you cards for firefighters (Brussels) and to the nursing staff of a hospital (Liège), sorting and giving out clothing to refugees, "Peace in Brussels" stickers offered to the residents of Forest, singing in the streets, "framed" photos, going door-to-door giving gifts and hot chocolate offered to the homeless.
Details of where the activities took place: the youth went to retirement homes, streets, squares, stations, houses, Brussels metro stations, shelters and shops.
"It was an atmosphere of celebration, contagious joy and solidarity with the poor" reported Philippe Leduc, the organizer of the GYDw2016 in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Among the many memories, one deserves to be told: The day before GYD, Brussels was still immersed in the news in connection with terrorism. In the city of Forest, a week after the events that have highlighted this county, Adventist young people weaved through the streets offering observers "Peace in Brussels" stickers. This was greatly appreciated by the local residents.