This is my first fall retreat season at Joy El, a Christian Retreat Center in PA, as the new program director. I had served as a counselor and helped with activities during retreats in the past, and now it’s crazy to think that I am the one running these weekends. It’s a blessing to use the gifts God has given me to plan the schedule, games, meals, and other details of each retreat. Then, it’s rewarding to see all this planning come to fruition when the campers are on site from Friday to Sunday. My favorite part though, is the spontaneous conversations that I get to have during these retreats.
Although I am a task-oriented person, my tank is full when I get the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with people. I love hearing their stories, and this is often when I catch a glimpse of how God is working.
My highlight from the fall retreats was the evening of one of our Momentum Retreats. At the end of the chapel session, I challenged the youth to respond to the gospel message and to talk to their leader about what was really going on in their lives. Right after chapel ended, I was surprised when a member of the worship band approached me. She was bursting with excitement as she shared how God kept confirming that she was supposed to be at Joy El that weekend despite the pressures she was facing at college. For example, when she was asked to come and lead worship at the retreat, she realized that her quiet time with God earlier that morning was in our Momentum theme passage: John 17. I was encouraged by this young woman’s earnest faith, and I had the privilege of praying with her to thank God and ask Him to continue to guide her life.
Later that night, I was walking around camp right before lights out. As I approached cabin 12, I noticed a teen girl who was sitting outside of the cabin by herself. Spontaneous conversation #2 that evening started as I approached her and asked if she was okay. She told me that she was praying, and she proceeded to open up to me about a loss in her life. We talked for a while, and at first I felt like I wasn’t relating to her very well. She went on to tell me that she felt safe talking to me, and she asked for a hug after I prayed for her. The next day, she came right up to me at breakfast with a big smile, and she found me a few other times that day before it was time to leave.
I don’t know if I’ll ever meet either of these two young ladies again, but I count myself blessed to have been able to speak truth into their lives that Saturday night. I am grateful for these two conversations that felt spontaneous to me but were probably not so spontaneous to God.