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Hannemann, you go first

This is the saying in the tale of the seven Schwaben. They were known to have moved out to search for the mysterious dragon and kill it. But when it came down to the knitty gritty, they lost their nerves and they scampered — in front of a dead bear, which lay motionless at the road side. They only proved to be daring when they came across a hare which, hopped fearfully through the bushes and which they wanted to attack with their lances.

Just like lots of boys, they had big mouths and wanted to prove to others how daring and fearless they were! But when it really came down to being brave, they were quickly subdued and ran away. The excitement was large as we told the boys on the youth camp that: tonight we will play an outdoor adventure game. A night time adventure game - that was something exciting. Some of them were already boasting about how they wanted to attack the "bandits" in the darkness. However us older ones had agreed that we would put the boys to the challenge. When the time came, we explained the game rules: Each boy would be placed in their own spot in the woods alone, without a torch. Then each person should try to run back to the camp as quickly as possible on their own. Lots of kids, who were really impressed at first, suddenly found the idea very stupid and suddenly became too tired to play. The others who took part became more and more silent.

This game was beneficial for many a cheeky and cocky boy: a lesson. They realised:

When it gets serious I am happy that I have someone to go through the dark woods with me. I mean, it is not a disgrace if a boy or a girl is scared in certain situations in their life. Even adults are scared sometimes! But it is important, that when I am scared, I have someone beside me to go with me and take away my fears. As a boy, I was happy if I could grab onto my mother or father’s hand in certain threatening situations. I found out later that there are certain situations in life where no adult – however clever or strong – can help us. We crawl up into to our own shells and are scared to face the next day — maybe before an exam, before an operation or when changing schools. I know of someone who wants to help us and be our companion on such difficult days when we are scared and full of worry. That is Jesus. He wants to be with you even when you feel left on your own. You can trust when you do not want to tell anyone else about your secret worries and fears. People who pray are never lonely people, even if they had to live on a desert island like Robinson Crusoe. People who pray know that Jesus is with them and will not leave them hanging.

„You see, I am with you every day until the end of the world", Jesus said to his disciples. We can trust in this – even today.

That also applied to the boys who left to sit alone in the woods by themselves during our night time adventure game. One of them recognised this afterwards: „As I sat there alone, I was really scared. Then I suddenly realised that I could pray. I felt it: Jesus is with me."

Klaus-Jürgen Diehl

(Source: taken with kind permission from the magazine “Junge Schar 9/1973”)

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