This is Kelsey from Team 3! I’ve been praying a lot on the way God uses us to reach the youth we encounter through all of the things we do on retreat. It is in praying with this that I realized how much He reveals Himself to us, the NETters, as well, even when we do the same things each day. I want to share with you three of these things that still impact me every day.
Throughout the day on retreat, we talk to the youth about how amazing it is to give everything to the Lord. There are talks, testimonies and dramas that share different ways to let the Lord into our lives. After sharing with the youth all these different things, we end every retreat with what we call prayer ministry. This gives them the opportunity to experience what we have been talking about. In prayer ministry, small group leaders take their small groups to the chapel and there we have a song, testimony, and drama. After that, the Retreat Leader gives an exhortation on how to use this time to the fullest. There is always an analogy shared that talks about the Grand Canyon. In the analogy, the Grand Canyon is this deep pit of sin and we are on one side with God on the other. If we tried to jump over the darkness we would fall in and die. Even if we were a good person living a moral life we still wouldn’t make it – it would simply be like getting a running start to jump the pit. The analogy goes on to say that Jesus stepped into that darkness and put one hand out to us on one side and the other hand out to God. Jesus bridges the gap and makes it possible to get to God.
I hear this everyday on retreat and it doesn’t get old. Every time the Retreat Leader talks about it, my heart is moved in a new way. Coming on NET, I tried to prepare myself to sit through the same things every day and not fall into autopilot, but I have found that it is not a temptation at all. It’s an incredible thing, getting to experience my team – my second family – talk about the same things in such different ways, whether it’s two teammates with different ways of explaining the same truth, or one teammate who breathes fresh life into their talk each time they give it . We put the Holy Spirit into everything we do; as we pray throughout the day, we alter the things we say to reach those sitting in front of us. Jesus not only uses us to speak to those who come on retreat, but He uses us to speak to each other as well.
The dramas we do are also super impactful every time we share them with the youth. Again, we do this every day and say the same lines, but these dramas speak to all of the different struggles the youth are holding on to no matter how much they differ from one another. Not only that, but getting to know my teammates more and more throughout the year makes these dramas mean so much more. Team 3 is blessed to have Christina as our Drama Leader (or what we call Drama Mama) because she graduated with a Theater Arts degree, so there are so many levels to everything we do. Not only are dramas a way the Lord reveals Himself to the youth, but He also reveals Himself to us through our participation in them.
Being in dramas has become a form of prayer. Different parts of our faith journey come alive in the roles we are given. The Lord has brought up a lot of things in my own life through the characters I play. I remember one morning in personal prayer, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, that my prayer wasn’t “grand” enough for God. I had been thinking about that throughout the day on retreat and it was time to do a drama. The one Christina chose was called “The Way We Pray”. In this drama my character has to be super silly and yell random lines like “My soul is parched and dry but if I could capture a morsel of who you are!” And throughout my ramblings, God is there saying “Just talk to me normally”. As I finished shouting out random things I realized I had been trying to pray like my character earlier in my own prayer that day. The Lord has a funny way of reminding us that all He wants is to be with us in everything and reveal Himself in everything we do.
I experience the testimonies my teammates give differently every day. I love getting to know the people on my team better through the testimonies they share about their life. Like dramas, knowing the speaker personally adds a new to element to what’s going on. It is so much easier to love the people around me when I learn more of their story. That’s something NET has taught me a lot this year. To choose love in every moment, not only when we are having a good time and things are going smoothly, but also when our lives get crazy and all of the plans seem to change. What is really cool is that the youth can see this in us as well. It is cool to hear how our interactions and reactions to each other play a part in the way the youth experience the Lord. Here are some of the things youth have said about retreats we have put on:
“You guys were so great! You have changed me.” – BelleCenter, OH
“It helped me grow closer to God. When we did [small] groups it helped me grow closer to people I barely knew.” – Cincinnati, OH
“More than I can describe, it really made me self-reflect on my faith. The team members gave me a safe place to share. I thank them for answering the call!” – Mechaniesburg, OH
The Lord is constantly at work not only in the hearts of the youth but in our own hearts as well. As we prepare for Christmas break, I am excited for everyone to return home and be a witness to all we have experienced on the road this far. It’s going to be nice to share the things we experience on a daily basis, and I am excited to miss those things by the end of the two week break, ready to return and experience it all over again.
Until next time! Yours in Christ,