The backgrounds that no one knows
“We have to cancel the festival. There’s just not enough time to prepare!” The words of my wife Tina, were the words of wisdom. By now it was July 2022, and other than a grand vision and some ideas, we had nothing to show for it.
It was a matter of hours and I was sitting at my desk. After a project design “Hospital” in 2002 and a project design “School ” in 2010, it was again about a very big thing. We dreamed of a youth meeting over five days and thousands of participants. Something of this magnitude had never been done in Peru before, and since we couldn’t even estimate the scope of this mammoth undertaking, I calmly typed large sentences into my laptop. If we had known what hurdles would await us in the coming months, we would probably have been the first to call everything off very quickly.
Tina lay next to me in bed and read the 15 pages that I had knitted with a hot needle, so to speak. As she silently worked her way through the concept, I tried to study her facial expression. But she showed no emotion. Hop or top? Forty years earlier, Tina had participated in a silence seminar in Taizé. She seemed to stick to the rules of that time and put me on the rack.
Finally, she slid the pages onto a stack and nodded, “Yes, it could work that way!” There was everything she said but more than enough for me. With God’s help, we would plan a festival in politically uncertain times with no template, no pattern and no guarantees of success.
Looking back now, over a period of six months, God threaded everything important. As if by an invisible hand, many people in several countries were led – often without knowing it.
Five weeks to go until the festival. I woke up restlessly at half past two in the night. 124 participants had registered first and every day 3 to 5 registrations were added. “You are too late with your advertising,” said some, “the political turmoil with 500 injured and 50 dead” simply does not allow such an event,” said others.
In my morning devotions, the old German word “Zuschanden werden” kept running through my mind. We were heading for a big embarrassment with our eyes open. The bankruptcy seemed inevitable. We had pocketed too high and would lose a lot. “God, don’t let us be crushed!”, my prayers had something stereotypical about them. They were driven by fear and full of hope for the miracles of God….
April 26, 2023: 3000 people crowded into the amphitheater. In front, hundreds danced to the beat of the drums. The legendary group Rojo from Mexico was as overwhelmed by the event as we all were. One of the team members sat down in the back row and cried. Event manager David Chavez, in the business for more than 30 years, muttered to himself with moist eyes, almost absent-mindedly, “Only God could do something like that. Only God can do such a thing!”
All those who sweated through the five days with us will never forget those moments in the evenings. Best estimates of attendance were 3000, 2500, 2500, 2500 and 3500. The festival had many aspects, one of which was the pastoral conversation offered to the young people. For the first call Thursday night, 360 boys and girls poured forward. Pastors and chaplains were lacking at every turn. Another 600 plus followed the calls number 2 to 5.
“Eco en los Andes”, was more than a festival with 11 musical groups from 9 countries. It was one miracle of God that will remind us of a truth time until the end of our days: He who trusts in God shall not be put to shame!” /KDJ