Ghent, Sint-Pieters station on Saturday 20 July: Committed teams from churches in Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Kortrijk … arrived at the Lord’s field at the Maria Hendrika Square early in the morning and stayed until late in the evening. From different places, backgrounds, nationalities and colors and yet with one goal, they merged into a special harmony. Dark clouds were hanging nonethless over the city.
Their enthusiasm and passion was radiating and contagious. Everyone was willing and helpful. The work became light and pleasant. The square started taking shape.
The first sunbeams of this day appeared in the sky. Electricity, tents, tables, food preparation, decoration and even real design came forth; everything that was needed to achieve the goal of the day.
When the festival was about to start, the dark clouds turned into a flood that threatened to wash everything away. The team had to make a quick choice: draw back or stand their ground trusting that things would change quickly? After a first surprised look, everyone went on like nothing or little was happening. Their faith proved to be very rewarding because the sky cleared up a little later and with a refreshing breeze and much sunshine everything was quickly dry and it stayed that way until the end.
Young people and children dance groups, teams of volunteers, excellent singers and musicians, all from different Evangelical churches, turned their faith into action in a very practical way. Freedom for the street children in Uganda was the message of the day.
During the first speech, the chairlady of the organization emphasized on the different needs in Uganda and Belgium, pointing out on a parallel line between freedom for the children in prison and poverty over there and the spiritual freedom that people still need in their own country here. The festival thus formed a bridge between the two countries in the north and the south.
“Wait until you will see us again next year; we find new inspiration here!”
All kind of delicious snacks and dishes were sold in the stands that surrounded the square. In this way people could support the event and the street children in Uganda. Visitors were engaged and given an explanation about the project in Uganda, the church, and what they heard and saw.
Hearts were open and smiling faces were everywhere, a tear here and there while people were touched deeply in unforced conversations; this is also part of freedom …
Freedom festival grows annually and becomes a trusted and encouraging environment for those who participate as volunteers. “Wait until you will see us again next year; we find new inspiration here!” That was the statement of one gospel group. And so they were looking forward to come back next year. “This is the best day of all my year,” said one of the volunteers, while someone else described the day as a re-energizing and rewarding vacation. This is freedom, this is the Freedom festival.
With many thanks to all cooperating churches and organizations, the numerous artists and volunteers, the givers and the sponsors! Appointment: next year!