Not your typical winter retreat.
This past weekend, we took exactly 70 students in grades 6-12 up to snow country for a 4-day retreat where they ate, played, talked, sang, and laughed. Winter retreats usually have a little drama... a minor injury, someone breaks up, someone throws up... stuff like that. This year there was no drama. The kids came utterly broken and looking for God to show up in their lives in a big way. He did.
The approval of man versus the approval of God.
That was the topic in a nutshell. Guest Speaker, Pastor Mike Sainz (from the Buffalo, NY area), laid it out. He was real. He was authentic. He told personal stories that left the kids thinking about their own lives. And as the weekend went on, more and more kids decided that they were ready to stop looking for man's approval and start looking for the approval of their Savior. This means big life-changes for many.
Pastor John Lawley described one of the evenings to us:
"I saw just about every kid on their knees, weeping in confession, praying over each other. It was powerful prayer. They were truly encountering the presence of the Lord. The retreat's whole theme was of being fearless...the idea of it being worth being made fun of by man in order to please God. These kids decided: We’re going to do things that honor God, not in fear of man."
The excitement didn't stay at the camp, either.
Sometimes emotion can take over, and resolutions fade away quickly when the weekend comes to an end. Not this time. Not this group. They're brainstorming how to make the student center more welcoming to newcomers on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. They're trying to figure out how to take the after-school secular crowd who come to the Student Center Monday-Thursday and reach them with the gospel.
Some are making firm plans right now to bring prayer into their high schools before school starts in the morning. They want to pray over the students and the teachers coming in, believing that God WILL shine a light in the thick darkness.
They'll be made fun of. They don't care.
God uses broken people.
What God is doing at Calvary right now is unprecedented. Isn't it gracious of God to take us in our state of brokenness and grief and turn things around to use for His glory? How many lives are being changed right now? How many more WILL be changed as a result of what we've been through together?
Let's lift up our students in prayer this week, asking God to fuel the fire that was ignited in their hearts this past weekend. It's going to be thrilling to see what God does with these students who are fully devoted to Him.