We had a beautiful Fall Retreat last weekend. It is one of those events that we will store in our memory treasure chest so we can bring it back out when our faith journey gets weary to remind ourselves of God’s goodness and be strengthened by it. As time passes by, however, our memory gets dim. Therefore, I would like to point out some of the things that were especially beautiful so we could savor and cherish God’s work that was done in our midst during the retreat a little longer.
The facility was beautiful. It was less than 50 miles away from church and even with some traffic on 290 I was able to get there in a little more than an hour. Almost everyone who was planning to come to the retreat on Friday was there on time for the first session. The food was great because it was delicious and all you can eat buffet. Snacks and drinks were available all throughout the retreat at all times. I got reminded once again food matters and it opens up our hearts to one another. Rooms were clean and well decorated. There were many sitting areas where people can just relax and rest on their own or converse with others over a cup of coffee. Landscape was beautiful with hills, trees and lakes and they were beautifully maintained. If the environment that we live in didn’t matter to our soul, God would not have created such a beautiful world as marred and damaged as it is by human sin.
The weather was beautiful. The weather is not the most important thing because we can still have a great retreat with bad weather. However, we go on a retreat like this just once a year as a church family and good weather enhances the retreat experience just like it does when we go on a family vacation. So, many of us prayed to God for the great weather even though we knew that the meteorologists forecasted there was 40-50% chance of rain during the weekend. It drizzled a little on Friday evening but starting from Saturday breakfast until the end of the day when it mattered the most, we had the most spectacular weather. The sky was blue without a speck of cloud. The air was cool and crisp without any wind. And all of us enjoyed the whole afternoon doing various activities all throughout the camp. It was a marvelous site to behold. God did it once again for His children! After the retreat I had Pho with Pastor Jonathan and I dropped him off at the airport at about 5:45PM. As soon as I left the airport and got on to Beltway 8 to come home, the rain started to pour down vehemently and I couldn’t stop saying, “Thank you Father!” over and over again. I sang songs of praise all the way until I got home.
The volunteers were beautiful. This beautiful retreat would not have been possible without our Maturity Team, Magnification Team and Life Development Team made up of JCS and Youth Group. Even before the retreat, every house church took turns to fast and pray. And dozens and dozens of volunteers sacrificed their time, comfort and energy to serve the body and God used all of them to fulfill His beautiful work among us.
The speaker, Pastor Jonathan, was beautiful. The highlight of the retreat for me was the messages he delivered to us. They were truly Spirit-led and driven and my soul is fully satisfied. Pastor Jonathan definitely has the gift of preaching. His messages were very powerful. However, the reason why I invited him for this year’s retreat was not because of his preaching. I have never heard him preach before because I only met him for the first time this past January when he came to New Life to attend Pastors’ House Church Seminar. What prompted me to extend an invitation to him to come and speak at New Life’s fall retreat almost right after the seminar was over was because of his humble and submissive spirit. What good is it to have all kinds of incredible gifts and talents if a person is not humble and submissive to God and to the leaders He has established over him? Arrogant and prideful people will not go too far in doing God’s work because they will be distasteful not just to God but to those that they closely work with. When a person uses a God-given gift at the right place to bless the church with the spirit of humility, it is just amazing!
The speaker’s parents were/are beautiful. The stories we heard from Pastor Jonathan about his parents were absolutely moving and inspiring. Once again, we are reminded that it is through the sweat and blood of God’s servants that He fulfills His work all over the world. Moreover, God never forgets all the work we do in His name. I believe the sacrifice that Pastor Jonathan’s parents made for God’s kingdom is one of the main reasons why God is and will be using Pastor Jonathan greatly in the years to come. Therefore, I pray that all the parents of New Life will be wholeheartedly devoted to God and His work not just for their own sake but for the sake of their precious children. We can never out give God. (Ps. 37: 25-26)
The Holy Spirit was beautiful. Theologians have said that the Holy Spirit is a shy member of the Trinity because He doesn’t want to be in the spotlight but gives glory and honor to the Father and the Son. But as we focused on the person and work of the Holy Spirit this past weekend, I almost felt like He was blushing but deeply pleased with what was taking place at Camp Allen.
Thinking of those members of New Life who didn’t or couldn’t come to the retreat deeply broke my heart. I thought of you very often all throughout the retreat and sincerely wished you were there with us. It was that beautiful.
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