Fall Youth Retreat 2013

Our Fall Youth Retreat was this past weekend, November 22nd and 23rd at Singing Hills Christian Conference Center. Over 60 youth attended with around 25 adults. The youth had the privilege of hearing from Nathan Rittenhouse and Alycia Wood, fellows from the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics at the University of Oxford (UK), who are spending the year in New England. They spoke on “Why Do I need God? I’m Fine as I am…”, “Who is Jesus?” and “Is Christianity True?” After each talk, the youth met in small groups to further discuss these ideas. The weekend also included personal reflection time and lots of games & fun. One of the fun highlights from the weekend was the game of capture the pumpkin.

Below are some student reflections from the retreat.
When I think about this year’s Fall Youth Retreat, I smile. Though we never seem to spend enough time there, I know that God blessed every moment. Whether we were in the chapel singing hymns or talking in our small groups, everyone was always eager to hear the gospel. I had the privilege of listening to Alycia Wood and Nathan Rittenhouse, who were our guest speakers for the weekend. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a people person. Sinfully, I have idolized my family, friends, and teachers becoming addicted to their acceptance and the sense of social security that follows. For this reason, I was particularly struck by Alycia’s message about identity. She said to us that when we allow ourselves to conform to the desires of society, we become slaves and are confined to our own abyss of sin. Alycia went on to say that having an identity with God, rather than your identity based on what you do, you are accepted in spite of what you do. I am free through Christ who died for me. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

~ Carter Bish, 10th grade
This past youth retreat I learned a lot about who Jesus is. This year was particularly exciting because we had two guest speakers from the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. Their talks were filled with stories of who Jesus was and why He should be important to us. One of the things that stood out to me the most was finding our identity in Christ. As Christians, our identities are not merely in ourselves, but rather in our Creator and Savior. Despite our imperfections and our overwhelming amount of sin, God chose to send His son to die for us. When Christ was on the cross He took away all of our sins in order for God to view us as righteous. We now assume that part of Christ’s identity and we are His children. This is such good news and so relevant to our lives because we are told by the world that we are worthless and we must prove ourselves. But God looks at us as complete because He made us complete and His definition of who we are is eternal. This helps as we are trying to share the gospel with others because we can see people as God sees them, and not just how the world defines them. Learning these lessons at the past youth retreat was an incredible experience.

~Katie Willeman, 12th grade