We were SO excited when 20 students ended up coming!! We were able to just hang out, play games with them, and get into further conversations with some of them about spiritual things. The long-term staff in Sweden were at the cookout, which was great because they are now connected with these students and can keep having conversations with them long after we're gone.
One of the students we've met this summer is named Elin. Elin met Theresa (one of the summer project girls from UNC-W) the first week we were here. When Theresa asked her what she thought about God, she said "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son." Theresa was totally shocked! Many students here have been to confirmation class when they were younger and for most it is a hoop to jump through because of tradition. Many students I've talked to honestly only went to confirmation because they get presents after they're through! But for Elin, this verse she heard years and years ago stuck with her. She told Theresa she didn't really know what it meant though, it had just stuck with her for some reason. Theresa was able to tell her what it meant and explain the Gospel to her. Through their conversations, Elin decided she wanted to read the Bible and her and Theresa are continuing to meet to talk about it.
Another student we've met is named Emme. Rachel and Meredith, two girls from Duke, met her two weeks ago. They talked to her some about spiritual things and she was interested enough to meet back up for "fika" this week. They decided to bring Chrysta, one of the long-term staff, along with them so Emme could meet her. Although she is still not sure if God is real, she decided she wanted to read through the Gospel of John with Chrysta, Rachel and Meredith. Chrysta remarked later than in her year in Sweden doing ministry, this was the best conversation she has had. Thank you so much for your prayers for the ministry here. These stories, and many others, have reminded us that God is at work here softening hearts.
As encouraging as these stories are, the reality is this is spiritually still a very dark place. A few nights ago some of our students went to a park to hang out. The park was packed and one of our students asked what was going on. It sadly turns out that this was a "hook up" party where people come to meet a girl or guy and invite them back to their apartments. As the students looked out at the hundreds of Swedes there, their hearts broke at how many people were there looking for satisfaction from partying and sex, when really Christ alone is who can satisfy their souls. It has been absolutely overwhelming and heartbreaking at times to see how many things Swedish students are running to to try to find life and satisfaction. As much as our hearts break for them, we know Jesus' does more:
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." -Matthew 9:36
Pray with us that God would open Swedes' eyes to see that HE is ultimately what they are searching for. And that they would run to the Good Shepherd that loves them more than they could imagine.