Fall Retreat 2018 Recap
by Cayla Reis
After months of planning, preparation, and prayer, Fall Retreat 2018 was finally here! On Friday afternoon, Ignite students started to flood into the Embassy Suites in Deerfield Beach more than ready to take a break from school and work. While checking students in, I could easily distinguish the Fall Retreat veterans from the newbies. Those who had been there before had high expectations for the weekend, while the new(er) students, though excited, had no idea what great things were going to happen in the span of just a few days.
That night, Stephen kicked off our first session by introducing us to the book of Ruth and its redemptive narrative, which gave us the foundation to our weekend’s theme: redeemed. By looking at the story of Ruth over the next two days, we learned that God often empties us of ourselves and all that we tend to hold onto so that He can fill us back up with His abundant, life-giving provision. Out of His great love for us, He helps us recognize our need for Him and redeems our lives by rescuing us from trouble, restoring us to new life, and loving us with an unwavering commitment. These truths sank into the hearts of all the Ignite students as we listened, worshipped, and discussed what we learned in our discipleship groups.
While worshipping in the back of the room each session, God allowed me to witness a beautiful increase of genuine worship and passion amongst my peers. As the days and nights progressed, I watched with tears in my eyes as the amount of students raising their hands and purely worshipping the Lord grew substantially. At one point, the entire band stopped playing and the sound of more than 140 voices filled the room, praising God for the freedom that can be found in following His way over our own. I couldn’t help but wonder who would hear these words of worship flow out of the room’s double doors. As for me, it was a sound I hope to never forget.
Like any good retreat, we were also able to have a lot of fun through team competitions and games. Some of the favorites were life-sized hungry-hungry hippos, headphone karaoke, and human bingo to name a few. In addition to the fun, friendships were formed over the weekend, developing over meals, throwing the football near the ocean, listening to music, tanning, having late night heart to heart talks near the pool, walks to the pier, midnight runs to iHop, or watching the sunrise. The more we learned about each other, the more we realized the beauty and strength that comes from doing life with the diverse family of God.
On Sunday morning, 11 other students and I got baptized in the ocean (where we braved a crazy amount of seaweed) to publicly declare that Jesus is Lord of our lives! I couldn’t think of a better way to close out the weekend than sharing in the celebration of what God has done in our lives and the hope of what He will continue to do in us and through us.
Emptied. Filled. Redeemed. Little did we know that these three words would help us realize the powerful love of God and the realities of His redemption from the story of Ruth. I know that I can speak for all the Ignite students when I say that Fall Retreat 2018 was unforgettable, and we are beyond thankful for the prayers of the Summit congregation on our behalf. We left this retreat refreshed by God’s Word, deeply connected to old and new friends, and refueled to change the campus culture at FGCU for God’s glory and renown.