Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Youth Reach New Heights!

Weekend Retreat Offers "God moments"
By Pastor Chris

Youth retreat was a screaming success. We arrived at Beaver Camp in Lowville , NY around on Oct. 21. I was expecting my speaker, Noel Rosa, to arrive around from his flight from Florida into Syracuse . After dinner I still hadn’t heard from Noel. There was no cell reception in the mountains there so I had to track down an actual land line phone. After several attempts, I finally discovered that because of hurricane Wilma, southern Florida was being evacuated. Noel had been trapped on the interstate for almost two hours and ended up missing his flight to Syracuse by two minutes.

Noel was then re-routed to JFK airport and then had to rent a car and take a five hour drive to meet us. At around I discovered he was only in Albany , still three hours away. With that, I determined that he was not going to make it for our first service. I called on Matt Crozier, Erica Calderon and Melissa Vogel to step up and lead us in a few worship songs.

I shared a brief devotional and then let the worship team go again. Upon the first note, the flood gates of Heaven opened wide. The Holy Spirit fell on us like a flood and we were ushered into the presence of God. The teen’s response to the moving of the Holy Spirit was overwhelming to me. I sat in almost disbelief as the guys quickly made a huddle and began praying over each other. The ladies were quick to follow and also made a circle to pray. Then without instruction, they simultaneously broke out and began encouraging each other with words of prophecy and exhortation. One young lady felt led to stand behind the microphone and make a public apology to the entire group for her attitude over the past few weeks.

We continued in the flow of worship for nearly three hours. Then as each student felt led, they slowly began to quietly migrate around the open fire pit in the middle of the pavilion. It was such a God moment. They just hung around the fire together in such a reverence for the Holy Spirit. Once that time was over I gave closing instructions for the evening. Just as I had dismissed the youth, Noel walked into the room. I am not sure, but I truly feel like that was a God orchestrated evening. Never in all of my years of youth pastoring have I experienced such a unified move of the Holy Spirit in one setting. It was AWESOME in the true sense of the word.

The next day was filled with so much fun and so many life lessons. We began the day splitting into four groups. Each group then had to overcome several obstacles on the ground. These were designed to promote team unity, determination, goal setting, problem solving, trust and faith. The youth had such a great time. We could have done those all day long.

After lunch, we returned to the woods, but this time our attention was turned upwards as we began to scale trees. The teens conquered a 30-foot pamper pole, climbing to the top and jumping out to a trapeze that was 8 feet in front of them. Others climbed a 40-foot tower, were strapped into a swing and were released from the top. Still others went across cables 35-40 foot in the air from tree to tree. It was so much fun.

That evening, Noel performed a mini-concert for the youth with his guitar. He then shared a powerful word about what lies in the abundance of our hearts. The students responded overwhelmingly. The next morning as we prepared to leave we were awakened by a brisk snow fall. It was beautiful.

I have to say, this trip was by far the greatest trip I have ever had with teenagers. God was with us the entire way. I cannot wait until next year’s youth retreat. Thank you all for your love and support to our students. Trust me, they recognize when they are being backed by the adults and leadership of Harvest Time.

In His Grip,

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