Mission Possible:  Impacting the Lives of Young Adults at Winter Retreat

Mission Possible:  Impacting the Lives of Young Adults at Winter Retreat

Lora Parsons

The Ashland Beacon

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Investigator, Lights--Camera--Action, Human Statue, Fish Bowl…what do all of these have in common?  They served as the kick-off games for the Winter Retreat at Meade Station Church of God that took place Feb. 23-25. Young adults representing multiple local workplaces and five colleges came together under one roof to get to know others who share a common faith and belief system. Oh, and, yes, they came to have fun!

This most recent retreat--the second of its kind--was structured just like the previous retreat, held last October.  Participants arrived around dinner time Friday evening, trickling in as their work or class schedule allowed. Dinner was served, and conference materials and shirts greeted each attendee. Once dinner was over, the team-building sessions began in an attempt to introduce everyone and bring the group together. Knowing that Saturday would be all about spiritual growth, it was imperative to develop on Friday night a sense of comfort for those who might be strangers. The best way to do that was kid-like play. They instantly teleported back to their expert play days and did just that.


Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the team-building games they played, though, was that they were also able to shift at the drop of a hat into serious mode. They played on demand and stopped play on demand, almost as if someone were holding a magic remote control and pushing PLAY and PAUSE (which is exactly what was happening during the Lights-Camera-Action game). Their transitions into quiet time, into prayer time, into breakout session time following even the most rambunctious of games were impressive. They could, as Jalen, one of the students from Kentucky Christian University, said repeatedly, “Get locked in.”

And, they had plenty of chances to demonstrate that skill Saturday. They were divided into four groups that traveled in 45-minute increments to sessions that fit under the theme verse of the conference, Psalms 51:7: “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” This verse was selected not only for its connection to snow, which was an obvious link for a winter retreat, but also selected  because it was spoken by David, who was known as “the man after God’s own heart.” His life--both the high points AND the low points--provide all of us, whether we have a relationship with Jesus or not, an entryway into identifying with him at some point in time.

John and Teresa Songer headed up one session where participants planted hyssop seeds and focused on how David cried out to God for forgiveness when he was face-to-face with his sin. Devonna Hall focused her session on the word “cleansed,” which was the conference title, sharing with her groups “how easy it is to be forgiven and how in both the good and bad, God is molding us for bigger and better ways to serve Him.” Connie Burns also shared about the life story of David and the fact that cleansing for him and for us has to happen repeatedly. We’re only human, and we like to sometimes hide away the dirtiest parts of ourselves, even though with Jesus, we don’t have to. And, my session looked at the parable of the ten bridesmaids and the importance of having enough oil in our lamps to not just get us to Heaven but also enough to share with others to take them with us.

Once breakout sessions concluded, participants then had the afternoon free until dinner. Not surprisingly, after dinner, we ended the day in the same way the conference began--with more games. The next morning, donning their conference shirts that label each of us “CLEANSED” in Hebrew, participants returned to church for a reflection session, a quick devotional, and then joined the congregation for the regular morning worship service. We played a lot, ate a lot, and laughed a LOT a LOT, but what we did collectively, above all, was moved closer to Jesus. 

Kat Terry, Marshall University student, said of the retreat: “I was able to see [through David] how God works in so many different situations!  This experience has truly helped me to reconnect with God and see what a true church family should look like!” 

Olivia Parsons, a junior from Asbury University said: “Seeing the church…support our age group meant so much. As we are stepping into adulthood, it can be hard to find places to just fully enjoy yourself and not worry about the long list of things to do. Having so many different ways that the church served us such as laundry…was a reminder that the church understands that life is busy and spoke to their desire to carry that weight with us in our daily lives.” 

From the lessons they took away from scripture, to the lessons they took away by watching the church be the church, these young adults got to be on the receiving end of the many hands--more than 70 sets of them--that chose to serve by sponsoring hotel rooms, donating snacks, washing their laundry, preparing meals and sharing God’s Word. And, though it was certainly primarily about the participants walking away encouraged and strengthened, those who were doing the serving also received the same. Breakout session leader, Connie Burns shared that preparing a 45-minute lesson for an unfamiliar age group was nerve-wracking, but “their attentiveness and participation made it one of the easiest lessons I have ever taught…and their willingness to give up a weekend to learn more about Christ made my heart sing.” Each person who participated in any way--from the earliest planning to the latest clean-up--had a hand in participants walking away with the bottom-line goal of the weekend (expressed here by Jacy Osborne):  “No matter what you did, no matter whether you think it’s unforgivable--God can and will forgive you even if you can’t forgive yourself.”

With two successful events in the rearview, Meade Station will likely be a site of future retreats. Stay tuned for more information by following the church on Facebook at “Meade Station Church of God.”

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