As one of Mackay’s Mission Volunteers, this retreat has been a reminder of the simple truth that every service is also a personal encounter with the Lord. As preparations for the event became my main focus and the excitement of being able to serve with my co-missionaries, I have forgotten how the mission is not there only to serve but to experience the Lord and His love for me.
On January 24-28 of this new year, the leaders of YFC National attended their retreat called SHOUT or Summer House Training. This took place in Mackay, QLD, home of sugar cane fields and the wildlife that Australia presents to the rest of the world that Australians from the big cities never thought they actually had. Kidding aside, it was indeed a SHOUT to remember for me.
I can recall being brought to many realizations and a roller coaster of emotions just by being a part of this retreat. While I was aware of the schedule beforehand and had an idea of the content for the week, what I was not prepared for was the many ways that God spoke to me and presented Himself in this personal experience.
There were many words that formed new meanings not only in my mind, but my heart as I journeyed with everyone present, both the participants and the service team alike.
As for challenges, they were definitely there: physical, mental, and spiritual. Queensland being known as the sunshine state ringed true to its nickname with guests freaking out on the plethora of bugs they’d meet while sweating profusely from the scorching sun. The community holding true to the Lord’s promise of equipping the called, the participants were expected to be the best for the Lord, which as human as we all are, is not always easy. Having to adjust time on the outcome of the day’s happenings as well as following the schedule were also God-given obstacles necessary for the molding. There were a lot of adjustments in this retreat, a lot of barriers old and new: However, it was from these challenges that our hearts were able to recollect on the goodness of the Lord and the “best” that we had to have was something as simple, yet fruit-bearing as Love: Loving the Lord through our covenants as YFC/SFC, loving our neighbours by being accountable for them and loving ourselves by allowing the Lord to mold us to be better instruments of His mission.
Perhaps for a second, I forgot to walk the talk and allowed myself to claim His glory in hardships that have passed my life, yet falter at the thought of losing to current realities. The Lord has called me to SHOUT to remind me that I am in the company of saints, blessed with Holy friendships, brothers and sisters ready to accept me in my vulnerability and weakness, not only in triumph. The Lord has called me to SHOUT to love me through the small things that I have lifted up to Him – which reflected on the fact that there is Him to surrender the big things to even more. I was reminded of the desires I have in my heart that I will have to face and discern for. I was called to SHOUT to show me what the Couples for Christ community is for and about – which us ultimately, God’s love.
Amidst the heat that Queensland has promised, and the countless bugs as big as the palm of your hand, the grace of the Lord has truly shined upon all that was present; participant and service team alike.