Daily Archives: August 30, 2013

Communicating with youth in 1967


I am not very good in keeping my study tidy, even though I often plan to better my life. Piles of book and papers tend to form quickly all around me. But when my wife stays home while I am on a trip, she avails herself often of the opportunity to create some order. She is reticent in touching too many things on my desk, since she knows I would not be happy about that. But she tries to rearrange the piles of books and papers that have formed on the floor, and makes sure that the vacuum cleaner reaches the dust in the corners of my room. Sometimes unexpected discoveries are made.

When she tried to sort some things out, a little over a week ago, the 1967 July issue of the journal for Dutch Adventist youth (the Jonge Advent Heraut; literally translated: the Junior Advent Herald) was found between a few folders with documents. The very neatly printed black and white journal of 24 pages on A5-format was completely dedicated to the youth congress of that year.

At the time, now over 45 years ago, the tradition of having an annual youth congress already existed. It was always held in Utrecht. The congresses I remember were held in the ‘Kunsten en Wetenschappen’ building on the Mariaplaats in central Utrecht, and later in the temporary building Tivoli, situated at the Lepelenburg. At first I participated as a member of the youth club, where as, quite soon, I became gradually involved with the program.

In 1967 pastor K.C. van Oossanen was the youth director of the Netherlands Union. He was assisted by two other leaders (of the two ‘conferences’ which were still in existence): H.J. Smit and P. van Drongelen. I was a non-ordained pastor in the province of Friesland, and was stationed in Sneek, but became more and more involved with youth projects. It was not very long until I would move to our educational center ‘Oud Zandbergen’ in Huis ter Heide.

The youth paper was edited by K.C. van Oossanen. Only a small privileged group called him by his first name, ‘Karel’. It took some time until I also acquired that privilege. This, however, still was the time in Holland when only surnames were used! The first article in this issue—no fewer than 11 pages—reported on the youth congress. Its was signed by ‘a visitor.’ As time has gone by I have seen sufficient literary products of K.C. van Oossanen to be able to say with a fair degree of certainty that behind this ‘a visitor’ the hand of the chief editor is clearly visible.

The second article (eight pages of small print) provided the verbatim text of a sermon preached by dr. B.B. Beach. At that time Beach was the education director of the ‘division’ of which the Netherlands Union was a part. R. Bruinsma—even the first name of a young non-ordained pastor of 25 could not be mentioned—was the translator. This is also clear from the full page picture on which dr. Beach exhorts the audience with his characteristic gesture of his index finger pointing to audience. I stand next to him. Both of us have gained considerable weight over the years. After 45 years it was still pleasing to read that ‘R. Bruinsma provided an excellent translation.’ May my vanity be forgiven.

I have re-read the sermon. It is rather lengthy for a youthful audience and today the language sounds rather formal, but apart from that, the sermon would be well worth listening to today.

Our way of communicating, however, has thoroughly changed. Who today would want to publish a journal for youth, calling them ‘young heralds’? I suppose many young people might even wonder what a ‘herald’ is. Who would nowadays want to publish a journal for the youth in black and white, with 24 pages of almost exclusively small print, and with a main article of 6,000 words? Of course, I was well aware that today’s ways of communicating are not quite the same as those we used 45 years ago. But this unexpected archeological discovery in many study uniquely reminded me how big the difference is between then and now.  (PS: And who knows what might come to light when I decide to really reorganize my books and papers?)