Our team has had the wonderful opportunity to be trained in virtual retreats. We do a hybrid of virtual and in-person retreats. We have many busy days and meet lots of youth. We’ve put on almost 50 retreats! Being on retreat so often, there are a lot of things that we hear over and over again. Most of these are basic truths that the Lord tells us. For everyone on our team, there is something that sticks out to them every time they see or hear it:
There’s a drama that we perform during retreats called “Bird Cage.” The story that’s told is between Jesus and the devil and how Jesus died to give us the freedom to choose Him or sin. Every time we perform Bird Cage it helps me to comprehend the idea that Jesus came to purchase my freedom with His life because He thinks I’m worth it. It also helps me to see the worth in people around me, I am able to see that they too, are worth the sacrifice.
Another thing that we do during retreat is tell stories. One story that we tell is about a cracked jar. Everyday a man brings this jar to the river to collect water. Because this jar is cracked, the water leaks out and by the time the man gets home, half the water is gone. The jar gets frustrated because it doesn’t work the way a perfect jar is intended to work. The man noticed this imperfection and he planted flower seeds on the trail. Eventually, the flowers grew and it was all because the jar was cracked and water spilled out. The man saw that the jar had an imperfection and he used it to make something beautiful come from it. That’s what the Lord does for us. He uses our brokenness and turns it into beauty. At times in my life I feel like a broken jar. Every time I hear that story I reflect on how God is using me even though I’m broken. He is still using my brokenness for His Glory.
There is a talk that I give every retreat and one of the quotes shared in the talk is by my favorite Saint, John Paul the second. He says “Dear young people, like the first disciples, follow Jesus. Do not be afraid to draw near to Him, to speak with Him face to face as you would a friend. Do not be afraid of the new life that He is offering you.”
I love this quote because it shows that it is so simple to have a relationship with God. That God isn’t just this big being up in the sky. He is near to you and He wants a relationship with you, all you have to do is draw near to Him. He’s knocking on the door of your heart, He just wants you to let Him in. I also think that every time that I say this quote to the youth, it sticks out to me because it is still a beautiful reminder to always be seeking out the Lord & pursuing Him as He is pursuing you.
One example that we give to youth on retreat is about the Grand Canyon. When Adam and Eve sinned we were separated from God and it’s kind of like the Grand Canyon. It’s like God is standing on one side and we are standing on the other side. In the middle there is a big pit and that pit is our sin. No matter how hard we jump, no matter how fast we are, we’re never going to make it to the other side. When Jesus came to be crucified, it was almost like He reached one hand out to God and the other hand out to us. Making a bridge, so that we are able to be close to the Father again.
One of the dramas that we have on retreat is called “The stool”. The story that’s told is about Jesus and us. In the drama, the person sitting on the stool gets to make the decisions. In the beginning the main character tells Jesus to sit on the stool, she wants Jesus to make the decisions. Throughout the drama the main character ends up pushing Jesus off the stool and making the decision herself. Every time I watch this drama I realize that I am just like the main character, I want Jesus to make the decisions but when it’s time to make a hard decision, I want to make it.
One drama that we have on retreat called “How to be Yours.” The story that is told in this drama starts with a girl dancing with Jesus. Later on in the drama the devil comes and tempts her. He gets her to come and dance with him, to give in to sin. The devil leads the girl into believing that Jesus wouldn’t want her back, but eventually she runs to Jesus. Jesus, after welcoming her back, fights off the devil and he runs away. This part gets me every time. The way that Jesus fights off the devil reminds me that the Lord is always fighting for me.
In one of the talks, there is an analogy used about our hearts being like a funnel. We try to fill it with things of this world and it may fill up for a time but in the end, it will always empty. Nothing of the world will satisfy us. We need something infinite and everlasting. God is the only thing that will never end and he wants to satisfy our hearts.
I love small groups! On a typical retreat, we do two of them, and the 2nd small group is my favorite because it is there that we provide them an opportunity to learn how to pray with Scripture. I never get tired of seeing young people pray – many of them for the first time, and hearing what they have to say about it.
There is a story that is told on retreat called “Boxes.” In this story a man goes to Heaven. In Heaven there is a building that shines brighter than the others. Inside of this building there are a bunch of boxes. Some boxes are shining brighter than others. On every box there is a name. This man finds the box with his name on it and sees that it’s shining bright. He asks what this means and is told that these boxes are shining with the gifts that God wanted to give to you, but you never asked. The shinier the box the more gifts God was going to give you, if you had just asked Him. This story makes me think about all the gifts that God wants to give me, but I recognize that He loves me so much, He is not going to force them on me. He is going to wait until I ask Him for them. All I have to do is ask.
During our time of small group on retreats I love to tell the girls in my small group the phrase “You are good because He is good” and as I tell it to them I realize it more and more. I am good because He is good.
During the drama “How to be Yours” the story is told by a song instead of dialogue. While the girl is choosing between Jesus and the devil, there is a line in the song that says “love me or hate me I’m not going anywhere.” That line shows me that Jesus is never going to leave us.
Praying over youth during prayer ministry is always a highlight for me. When I have a small group I get to pray over them individually and it’s always a powerful time for the youth and for me.
Even as NET missionaries, God is still reminding us of His love for us, because as humans it can be so easy to forget. On the road, we have learned that the Lord works through EVERYTHING. Even if it’s the same phrase we’ve heard over and over again. He never fails to show His love for us.
Please know, as a team we are praying for you and your families!