Last weekend, iD, our youth group here at BCEC, had an incredible retreat. The theme was “My Story”, and we looked at three things:
1. We looked at how God has helped people in the Bible (as it turns out, a lot of Biblical characters have awesome stories, but we looked mainly at David);
2. We looked at how God has helped us personally with our own struggles and lives as a whole;
3. And we looked at what to do with our stories (which was to share them with others).
Retreats are usually a good place for people to reconnect or to start a connection with God. To spend time getting to know God, speaking with Him, and listening to Him. And you can bet we had just that.
The retreat started on Friday night and finished Sunday afternoon. Every moment was jam-packed with awesome encounters. It was time spent bonding through various activities, from games and a treasure hunt, to jamming with instruments (we even had a banjo!), to worship sessions; there were thought-provoking talks and group discussions, and of course nightcap cup-noodle snacking.
As a leader, it has been incredibly encouraging watching the teens grow, mature and develop into young men and women that love God through a space of one year. This time last year, I had only been interning here at BCEC for a week and a half when I attended my first iD retreat. Reflecting back, I have seen incredible spiritual growth within the youth group on so many levels.
I wish I could share all of them with you. But one key breakthrough is that many of the youths have taken the step of faith to being more open and vulnerable with their struggles: bi-cultural, school, identity…. It takes great humility to be transparent. And it all started with looking at the cross. Knowing that Christ loves us despite our weaknesses, flaws and imperfections. And secondly, knowing that it’s time to let go and break down the walls that keep those things hidden from the light.
I was reminded by Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Exactly that. Suffering produces endurance, which brings character, followed by hope which does not disappoint us– all because of God’s magnificent love through the Holy Spirit.
My prayer for the retreat was that the Holy Spirit would touch the hearts of the youth. And it was certainly answered, and in abundance. God not only touched them, but moved them to bring their struggles to the cross, surrendering all and amazingly, sharing their stories with all.
And that’s incredible, because through it I can see God working in this community. We as one body of believers can work together, knowing that Christ helps us move forward. In this community we can be open and experience grace. And I can see that this community is not ashamed of the gospel: that God loves us so much despite our flaws and weaknesses, that He gave us His Son for us. “We are weak, therefore we need Him.” I love that one of the teens said that. And I love that this gospel is part of their lives.
So that is my little tale from this past weekend for the iD retreat. The kids had an amazing time working on their stories: what they used to be like, what God has done in their lives, and what they hope and pray for in the future. I’m sure they’d be happy to share more with you. After all, everyone has a story– what’s yours?