Impressions from the 8th 'SOS' Counselling Seminar in Kassel, Germany
300 people sat with me listening to Johannes Warth, absorbing every single word of this 'encourager by profession'. Very soon relaxed and happy faces could be seen around. From time to time people burst out laughing. The speaker really raised our spirits. How true what he discovered on a T-shirt: ‘When God created me he wanted to show off!” Yes, when God creating mankind ”it was very good.” Even so a lot of people feel unloved and suffer from inferiority complexes.
This year’s SOS Conference on January 21st and 22nd had the motto: “Let nobody lose heart“. In ministry with children and youth we encounter a lot of discouragement. One third of German students suffer from depression and stress. We meet children and youth suffering from drug problems, self-harming behavior, mobbing, and relationship problems. It’s great when they encounter encouragement, and their quiet cry for help is heard and attended to.
The almost fully booked conference showed how big a demand for competent training is out there. Through evaluation sheets and conversations the participants told us how useful the seminars and how competent the speakers are.
Somehow I found myself in a workshop on 'doubt'. But maybe it was not just by chance. The workshop was booked out very fast. Some people came for themselves, others came because the theme was interesting for their work with youth. I learned that an authentic faith includes doubt. Talking to others I sense the relief that one can discuss this problem without being looked at as a heretic.
One thought from the Sunday sermon on Rev. 1, 1-18 by Rudolf Westerheide, Theological Director of the German CE, stuck with me: “The influence of Jesus on our ministry is more powerful than our failure. Do not fear failure. God has the last word.
SOS was an encouragement for encourager. In 2013 there will be the 9th SOS conference. Jörg Maushake, German CE