Our college ministry held its Winter Retreat at the end of the first week of classes to start off the spring semester grounded in the faith. Everyone drove over to the retreat site in Burnet called Camp Buckner. Faith Hall soon became bustling with people registering, stocking up the kitchen, distributing sleeping bags, and eating snacks to satisfy those midnight cravings.
Pastor Manny made an encore visit to Austin to give the messages for the weekend. He first recounted the story of Naaman from the Bible. We listened to how the Syrian commander suffering from leprosy finally let go of his pride and sense of entitlement and in turn, developed a sudden childlike devotion to God. We also went over Gehazi’s part of the story, which taught us the destructiveness of worshiping God plus something else (money, recognition, romance, etc.).
We also broke the ice with different games, such as a rock-paper-scissors tournament that culminated to a final showdown between the two remaining empires. We then split up into groups based on our Myers Briggs personality types and tested our survival skills with a round of trivia questions. (Did you know that you can look at which side moss grows on a tree to determine which direction you’re heading?) Based off our overall answers, the “introverted” and “perceiving” types ended up on top as the best survivalists.
We later had the choice of taking different workshops to either help us grow in our understanding of God or our lives as Christians in this digital age: How Can I Believe in a God I Can’t See, the Problem of Pain and Suffering, and Digital Citizens of the 21st Century/Art of Reflection.
Taking advantage of the warmer weather, we spent some time outside to play different sports and games like gaga ball, volleyball, human foosball, tetherball, and even horseshoes. To top it off, all four classes battled against each other in dodgeball. The juniors secured the first victory, and the next round, the sophomores rose to the top by making good use of a special bonus rule that allowed all ousted players of a team to get back into the main game if someone threw a ball into a soccer goal on the field.
We then regrouped at Faith Hall for some stirring presentations about heroes of faith. We started off by learning about C.T. and Priscilla Studd—a dynamic duo who ministered together throughout China and later on in Africa. Their fervent faith in God sustained them through all financial, physical, and mental struggle, and they ultimately found true joy in bringing others to Christ.
Next, we went over the life of another missionary couple who served in China. Reverend Verent Mills and his wife Alma took care of thousands of Sino-Japanese War refugees and established many overflowing orphanages, with a legacy that reached even one of our own Gracepoint church members.
As the retreat came to an end, there were times of passionate praise, convicted prayer, and solemn reflection. Challenged after hearing about the dedicated and fruitful lives of these different heroes of faith, we made commitments to serve God more throughout our own lives.
Though this thought-provoking weekend was packed with activities and messages, it went by in a flash. Let’s keep on praying for the commitments made for the year!