Last weekend the youth of Tenth made their way down to Camp Sankanac for Marantha’s Winter Retreat 2014. We appreciate those of you who supported us by sending your kids along, praying for us, and lending us Will Spokes for the weekend. It was a really wonderful time.
Perhaps you’ve heard a lot about the winter retreat over the years but were never really sure what exactly went on during our outing. Or perhaps this is your first time hearing anything about it. Well now that the excitement has died down somewhat, we’d like to let you in on what went down this past weekend. But rather than me bogging you down with details, we want you to hear from the teens themselves.
Following are two brief testimonials from two of our Maranathians who describe how the retreat was meaningful to them. Annette Kempf, 16, is a junior at Delaware County Christian School. She enjoys writing, running, art, science, and videogames. Josiah Rineer, 18, will be graduating from Cheltenham High School this spring. He is an avid bass guitarist and is also interested in architecture. He plans on attending Word of Life Bible Institute next year.
Stay tuned next week for more student testimonies.
The most significant time for me on the retreat was the night Will Spokes answered questions kids had posed. Earlier in the day everyone had gotten together into small groups to come up with questions pertaining to their doubts about Christianity and their faith. There were some really serious topics such as the trustworthiness of the Bible; how to talk to people that shake your faith in God; why God allows suffering; what to make of contradicting details in the gospels; what scripture finds wrong with being gay or transgende; and a number of other things.
It was encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who’s unsure or afraid to asnwer these questions. Though untrue, sometimes it appears that other Christians around me don’t battle with the same questions, or they at least struggle with fewer questions than I do. This is definitely one easy method Satan uses to isolate younger Christians from each other. If we don’t have a safe place to express our doubts, we’re vulnerable. We feel like it’s wrong to doubt. However, we need to discuss these doubts, not deny them. Through discussion, we can begin seeking the truth in scripture, and from there we can encourage our peers to do the same.
The retreat was an excellent opportunity to do just that. One point Will made that was especially meaningful to me was that all of our doubts are based on beliefs. He explained that if we examine our doubts, we grow in humility and understanding. Christ wasn’t born to be irritated with us for doubting—he came to be patient with us.
I have loved the winter retreats all through my Maranatha experience. The excitement fills me as the days go by leading up to it. I am sure that almost everyone is excited for the winter retreat. Once we get there we have dinner and we talk and see how each other's weeks were. The time we get to spend together is so much fun, whether we are down in the Scott house playing games or sledding down the hill on a piece of plastic infamously called the "magic carpet," we never get tired of the community we call Maranatha.
But the most important part of the winter retreat is the talks we have before breakfast and after dinner. This year Pastor Will Spokes talked about doubt. The topic really touched me, and I felt that I came away from each talk with something new I could think and pray about.
One specific talk that really spoke to me was Saturday evening. Instead of having a normal talk where we just sat and listened to a sermon, Pastor Spokes asked us to write down questions that had been on our mind and that we wanted to ask him. He was very honest about each question. If he didn't know the answer to one of them, he would state that he didn't know how to answer the question and explain why. Overall, Pastor Spokes did a great job shedding light on a topic that I rarely thought about.
I have seen myself grow at each winter retreat for the past several years, and I cannot wait to see what the Lord does through Maranatha in the years ahead.