“This is Love not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10. The ultimate expression of love is revealed in Christ coming to earth. God also gives us illustrations of love through our relationships with each other. The winter retreat was themed “This is love” and held at Camp Au Sable in Grayling. The unusually cold weekend was warmed by the fellowship of friends and the study of God’s Word. The time was spent reflecting on our relationships with others, and most importantly our relationship with God.
Pastor Ron Kelly, Berrien Springs Village senior pastor, spoke for the main session and shared from his college experience courting his wife, but more importantly how God led him to accept Christ’s invitation to love Him first and most. Pastor Leeroy Hernandez, from Grand Rapids, led the attendees in united prayer each morning. It was encouraging to see the students brave the early morning frigid air for prayer together. Pastor Israel Ramos led a Sabbath School centering around 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. The attendees were split into groups of four. One side of the auditorium studied chapter twelve while the other studied thirteen. At the end of their discussion, they had to draw the meaning of the passage. On Sunday, Pastor Jermaine Gayle called attendees to make a decision to be baptized in the final charge.
We encouraged Adventist students to bring their friends for the weekend. We treat these weekends as evangelistic gatherings. Over twenty percent of the attendees were from friends of our Adventist students. The messages at the retreat are unashamedly Seventh-day Adventist. We believe in cross-platform evangelism. In other words, the messages encapsulate the theme from the distinctive Adventist perspective. As a result, those who attend will in many cases make decisions to join our church or seek to know more about the Bible and our faith.
One student summarized his experience this way, “I put the weekend into three words: Rest, Reflect and Restore,” Daniel Patrick, Grand Rapids. He continued to describe how he looked forward to this weekend because of how he was able to grow closer to God. Daniel was invited for the second year through the ministry of Pastor Hernandez and his wife Cori (MSU graduate). The couple has been asked by InterVarsity to train and lead Bible studies for some of its leaders.
Over twenty years have passed since the first CAMPUS Winter Retreat was held at Camp Au Sable. The needs of the students continue to change as much as the young people themselves. Yet, God continues to use this venue to impact the lives of our young adults for eternity. We appreciate your support of this generation to be able to come apart and rest awhile at the Winter Retreat each year.