German paXan team organizes Week of the Knights for Romania children
Friday, September 13, 2013
Sighisoara, Romania
Sighisoara is a small town in the Romanian part of Transylvania established in the 12th century by German immigrants. Today, many children attend a German school. High above the river lies the citadel, the town's historical center and the ideal location for a real German Ritterwoche — a Week of the Knights.

A team of 11 German young adults travelled to Romania from August 24 to September 1 as part of the 2013 paXan team. paXan is an annual Work and Witness trip for 10 to 20 young adults from Nazarene churches across Germany. In 2010, the team served in Beirut, Lebanon; the 2011 trip took the team to Berlin, Germany; and in 2012 the team travelled to Dimbula, Sri Lanka.

The name "paXan" is derived from pax (Latin for peace) and Pack's an! (German for "Go do it!" or "Get active!"). Each afternoon the young people got active at the local Nazarene church in Sighisoara, plastering and painting the church's exterior wall, painting the church gate, and cleaning out rubbish for others rooms to be renovated.

The local Nazarenes were very grateful for the team's work.

"[They] made the church entrance look much more inviting," said Roberta Bustin, a Nazarene volunteer living in Sighisoara.

paXan teams also emphasize programs for children and youth. One of the young adults' primary goals is to build relationships, share peace and hope, spend time with the local people, and show them that they are valued and loved.

During this paXan trip, the town's children assembled every morning on the square in front of The House on the Rock, which houses an international café, several classrooms, and serves as the administrative center of the Veritas Foundation. Veritas is a Christian organization that offers services to the community, a variety of educational programs, and intercultural exchange.

Appropriate to the medieval setting in Sighisoara's citadel, the team planned a Ritterwoche with the Armor of God theme. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day the children enjoyed a Vacation Bible School-type program with a variety of knightly activities highlighting the armor of God and the weapons of His spirit. Activities included drawing and themed crafts (such as tiny egg-spoon knights dressed in the armor of God), stories, drama, and games.

The children — and the parents too — were enthusiastic.

"This is the first holiday program that my child begs to be allowed to go to every day!" said one mother.

Team members also enjoyed the Ritterwoche.

"I really enjoyed all of it — but especially the kids' program," said David Paul, who was part of a paXan team for the first time this year. "Whatever you put into it, the kids return it to you many times over!"

The paXan team was also able to minister to children in the village of Tigmandru and to teenagers in a Roma community just outside Sighisoara. The Roma youth, who face great poverty and hopelessness, especially enjoyed spending time with the German young adults.

"The German team was a tremendous blessing to all of us," said Bustin, who spent most of the week with the team. "They were able to minister to both middle-class children, a group with great potential but a group which is often neglected in the Romanian culture, and very poor Roma children from a nearby village. This team was a great example of giving of themselves and their talents, of sharing, of enjoying each other, and of showing the love of Christ wherever they went."

The ministry trip was also a great experience for the young adults. Every day was started with a team devotional and in the evenings the team met for feedback sessions, to review the day, make plans for the following day, and pray together.

"The week turned out totally different than I'd expected," said Christian Bangert, who has participated in three paXan teams so far. "But it was a tremendous time. Everybody really jelled as a team and together we were able to accomplish a lot of things."
--Church of the Nazarene Eurasia Region
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