This week I’m preparing for a weekend filled with late nights, early mornings, Bible readings, worship, games, camp food, good conversations, encouraging notes, fun activities, some stress, and a lot of responsibility as we take about 30 junior high and high school students on our annual youth retreat.

For the past two years, we’ve gone to Youth Conference at my alma mater, Taylor University. Since the college students prepared and led everything, we didn’t have to do much as youth leaders. This year we decided we needed to have our own retreat with just our youth group, so we planned everything and decided to head to Camp Timber-lee. At times, this was a little disorganized because there was a lot to think about and none of us had really planned an entire retreat on our own before. But God was faithful in providing.

We went through several options before we finally found a speaker (that was a huge praise!). When we started registration for the retreat, we only had  a few people signed up the first few weeks. I was hoping we’d meet our 25 person minimum for the camp, but I shouldn’t have been worried. We now have 31 students attending and six leaders (including the speaker), which is nearly 40 people. That’s pretty big for us–we normally have less than 30 people total attending the youth retreats.

Our theme this year is Surrounded. It’s easy, especially for students, to compartmentalize our lives: church/youth group, school, sports, music, friends, family, etc. It’s easy for us to see how God fits in with our spiritual lives, but we easily forget that it’s not spiritual life vs. the rest of my life–it’s all intertwined and God is part of every aspect of our lives. He’s part of school (even though it can be hard to see Him in that area unless you’re praying before a test). He’s part of the activities we’re involved in (sports, music, clubs, hanging out with friends, shopping, talking on the phone, etc.). Our spiritual lives are not separate from the rest of our lives because God surrounds our entire lives. We have to remember that and center our lives around that fact.

We’re also surrounded by lots of other distractions: media, peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, being a people-pleaser, and much more. All these things try to pull us away from God, so we need to try and surround ourselves with the things of God in the midst of all of that. Those are some of the things we’re exploring this weekend (along with other issues through special youth counselor-led workshops on defending your faith, understanding and discerning God’s will in your life, and guy/girl friendships and relationships).

So in preparation for this big weekend, I’ve been trying to surround myself with more of God. It’s hard sometimes with everything that’s going on, but I need to be more intentional about it. So sometimes I’ll just turn off the radio on my drive home from work and pray for the retreat (like I did yesterday). Now I’m trying to pray for something specifically for the retreat every day this week and encouraging others to do so with me on Facebook.

If you’re reading this, please be in prayer for us this weekend. Here are some ways you can pray:

  • Pray for the youth counselors (me, Gerald, Tiffany & Pearson), our worship coordinator (Rob), and speaker (Peter Moi) as we finish preparing our workshops, messages, and Bible studies this week. Pray that God would speak through us and use us.
  • Pray for good weather (right now it looks like it’ll be snowy & cold in Wisconsin) and safe travel on Friday & Sunday
  • Pray for the 31 students attending the retreat. They all come with different issues and at different points in their relationship with God. Pray that God would be preparing them now and that they would hear His voice and respond this weekend.
  • Pray for our student leaders (Kat and Lauryn) as they lead games and student prayer meetings.
  • Pray for our student worship teams as they lead the group in worship throughout the weekend
  • Pray for the students not attending the retreat this year–that God would meet them where they’re at as well

Thank you for your prayers! If you have any advice for us prior to this weekend, feel free to leave it in the comments. 🙂


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