On Thursday, October 20, 2022, over 160 students from sixth grade through twelfth, along with almost 50 leaders, left the Berean parking lot in four school buses and sundry vehicles on their way to the unknown: Fall Retreat at a new location!
We were more than two hundred people - each one different than the others. We were introverts and extroverts. We were musicians, athletes, artists, gamers, students, teachers, friends, sisters, brothers, children, parents, and grandparents. We were students from probably nine different public high schools, even more public middle schools, and multiple private schools. We were homeschoolers and PSEO students. Some of us were taking time away from our jobs while many of us hadn't even had our first job yet. Our homes were urban, suburban, and rural. Our families and friendships had an uncounted variation of dynamics. We were not even all from Minnesota!
Yet, with all those differences, there were at least three things each of us had in common:
- Like it or not, we were each going to Fall Retreat.
- Believe in him or not, we were each loved by Jesus.
- Without a doubt, each of us wanted to belong.
The desire to belong is within each one of us.
To some, it is a deep ache; a yearning that we doubt can be fulfilled. For others, it is a feeling that comes and goes depending on whom we are with and how we have been treated. A few of us have suppressed it so much that we may not believe the desire exists . . . but it does. God, for all eternity, has lived in perfect unity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Forever, the Trinity has and will exemplify belonging to its fullest.
As people created in God’s image, the need to belong is part of our nature.
Fall Retreat 2022 was all about belonging.
We spent quality time together.
It started with riding those buses together. Once we were at camp, we unloaded our belongings into the rooms and cabins that we shared with our small groups. We ate our meals together and hung out with our friends during our free time. We participated in organized games and competitions. We had chapels and cabin discussions. All of this brought us together. It helped us to see our need for belonging and hopefully enhanced our sense of it.
Together we heard great teaching about belonging.
During our chapel sessions, Micah Mariano taught about belonging. He taught us that as believers in Jesus:
- We have been transferred into the Kingdom of Christ (i.e., we belong to Jesus).
- When we live our lives together, focused on God and taking care of each other, people will notice and may come to know and belong to Jesus as well.
- We are not meant to be alone. Instead, the gospel of Jesus, and the hope we find in him, unifies us.
Chapels were also a time when many voices came together as one, praising Jesus for who he is and what he has done.
We encouraged and cared for one another.
Following each chapel, we went back to our cabins where we discussed what we had just heard and how we might apply it to our lives. We encouraged and learned from each other. We also prayed together. Those cabin discussions were some of the best reinforcements of what Micah was teaching us.
We worked together in teams.
Another great, and perhaps sneaky, reinforcement of belonging was the competition between the classes. None of the games could be won simply by having the strongest or most talented individual in your grade. The games required the classes to each function together - for each person to belong to the team. It didn’t matter if it was the name game, where anyone in the class could be called on to name all their classmates, or four-way volleyball with a ball so big that none could even lift it alone. Only by belonging to the team was there any hope of winning the games.
There's a place for everyone.
The most important team we can belong to is God's team. When we embrace Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we belong to God's family and enter his Kingdom. We are on THE TEAM. We will never be alone. We will always belong.
That’s what Fall Retreat 2022 was all about. Pointing each student to Jesus, showing them that in him there is true belonging, and teaching through example, silly games, food, and conversation how to embrace each other as teammates, how to live in community, and that...
Do your students need a place to belong?
- Check Out Berean Youth
Learn how God is working in Berean Youth:
- Read: How Our Youth Took the Hope of Jesus to the Last Frontier - by Dusty Decker
Find out how you can join God's team too:
- Explore the Life & Faith Questions page on our website