BY SHINE KANG
This past winter’s most anticipated youth group event was centered on the theme of prayer. As important as it is to having an edifying relationship with our Father, it does go neglected from time to time, especially for students. This time around the youth group was reminded of and taught that prayer is more than it seems. Its versatility and importance was just a couple of qualities that were mentioned to them as they started their journey with the art of talking to God. With the busied lives of high school and junior high-aged students, prayer can sometimes be the last thing on their minds. Luckily, each winter break, they can to look forward to learning more of what the Father has in store for them at the retreat.
Each year, the retreat small groups have been given names under one theme like fruit or cereal names to create a lighthearted atmosphere. This year, the retreat small groups were named after countries with the highest Christian persecution rates in the world. The countries included North Korea, Iraq, and Syria with the hopes to give students perspective and guidance about the countries for which they should be praying.
The guest speaker, Pastor Daniel Whang of Renewal Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, made it a point to talk about how, in times of joy and suffering, the students should be inclined to pray. Since many of the students he was preaching to had been through great and trying times, he made it clear that at all times prayer is necessary and sufficient. He not only made it relatable by talking about how one can pray but what about and when. While not all students have time in their days to schedule quiet times, all of them are capable at some point to remind themselves of the reason why they pray, and that was emphasized throughout the retreat to not just the students but the staff as well.
As far as changes went this year, a few were made for the sake of change and others for the sake of the theme. One for the latter was made for both students as well as counselors: prayer meetings that once only required for counselors were made mandatory for students as well. Previously, this time was created for only the staff to pray for the students and the retreat, but since the crucial aspect of prayer was so well incorporated into the retreat, the pastors extended this time to everyone. Topics ranged from the well-being of the students to whatever else the pastors or guest speaker felt the need to add. This time around, there were a slew of requests that included the countries the small groups were named after and the youth groups’ overall health. One should think it was necessary all this time to have everyone pray together and finally there was a great reason for it.
Overall this retreat was a healing and enlightening experience for everyone who ever had a doubt about prayer. Knowing that the One we call Father and Lord is so easily accessible through so many means was made known to many. Not only is it a comfort but a way for everyone to connect and meditate with God. Even in the midst of a busy life, knowing that the One we need is available in the best way possible will always be something held dear to our hearts. Learning that at such an early age will impact those affected in such a lovely way that there might not be a better way to rekindle our love for the Father.
Image Source / Alex Kim