OY VE! FIFTY-FOUR YOUTH! FOR REAL?!?!
This would be the largest group to go on a youth retreat in Metro’s history. The kids’ excitement level was at a frenzied pitch. With their faces stuffed with pizza, their hearts and souls shielded with a powerful prayer by Kelly Glavin - one of our parents - we packed the kids and their stuff into a school bus and 2 cars and embarked on our March weekend retreat and arrived at Harvey Cedars Christian Conference Center about 2-hours later.
The theme of the youth retreat this year was “KING.” We were going to learn, meditate on and worship what “King” meant to us and how it could be reflected in our lives. We were so blessed all weekend to be led into worship by our stellar youth praise brand. They didn’t just play instruments or just sing - they WORSHIPPED the King in heart and spirit...and it was infectious, evidenced by the fact that the youth sang and praised like I had never seen before.
Our guest speaker, Pastor Chris, was anointed as he took the topic of “King” and divvied it up into three topics - “Obedience,” “God’s Presence,” and “The Good Shepherd.” He really had a way of opening up the scripture to the youth in ways that they could comprehend and be impacted by them. This became obvious during our small groups, as we discussed questions that pertained to the message we had just heard - it was apparent that the kids had actually listened and there were “God moments” where kids shared from the sincerity of their hearts.
Cold temps, rain and overcast skies on Saturday were not going to dampen the moods of the kids on their weekend getaway. The kids ran, jumped and shouted as we played group games, board games, foosball, ping pong, ate cup ramen noodles, and the overdose of sugar that the kids had from all the candy seemed to contribute to them truly enjoying each other...and even their “fun” seemed to be a worship of our King.
The retreat began winding down on Saturday night as Pastor Chris shared his final message, but as far as the kids were concerned, they were going to be up for the long haul that night...or at least as long as they could last. Some kids played games, other talked, some went to bed, many partook of the leftover snacks, and some spent time writing notes of encouragement to each other at the retreat. As I roamed a bit and observed the various on-goings late, late, late into the final night, I could not help but be incredibly grateful because the King had bestowed upon me the gift of this weekend.
Sunday morning we watched a video for a devotional and we then partook of communion as a group. We then made time for the youth (and teachers) to share a testimony about the weekend. Many students came up to share what the weekend meant to them and how God had blessed them.
“Pastor Chris, what was the biggest thing that helped you get closer to God?” I probably wasn’t supposed to hear it but it was a question asked of the guest speaker that rang in my ears, stuck in my craw, and brought tears to my eyes and down to my knees in worship at how God just poured out his Spirit upon us. It was quite obvious that the retreat had been baptized in prayer, the program had been anointed and the Lord had been welcomed; all evidenced in the fact that there was a transformative move of the Holy Spirit in and through the youth (as well as the leaders) during this weekend. Random acts of kindness amongst the youth toward each other, the inquisitiveness in the questions asked, the prayers lifted up, the boisterous fellowship, and the communal bonds forged between Merge and X - teachers and youth, old and young - were all acts of worship to the “King.”
Throughout the retreat I saw kids stepping up to help each other. I saw kids praying with each other. I saw kids worshipping their hearts out together. I saw kids sharing their hearts with each other. I heard youth encouraging each other. I heard kids confessing things they had done in the past. I saw kids enjoying each other. All these things and more is what “KING” meant to them.
At the end of the classic movie, Karate Kid 2, Mr. Sato humbly says to Mr. Miyagi, “Your student has become my teacher!” That is exactly how I felt after the weekend. I kind of feel guilty saying this but I learned more from the kids than I could ever offer them. I went on the retreat as a teacher, chaperone, surrogate parent, but what the Lord helped me realize was that I was not working WITH these kids, but He was working on me THROUGH these kids.
As much as find myself yelling at the kids from time to time, I love working with them. They blow my mind at how incredible they are. My prayer is that the youth at our church will continue to seek out what King means to them in order that they may live out the lives that Christ desires for them.
Submitted by Dan Kim
Metro Merge Volunteer