“Yo, you tryna go to fall retreat?” two of my closest friends asked. I had turned it down the year prior because I wasn’t really interested in going. I remember asking myself something along the lines of, “Is it really worth it?” I had been to a Christian retreat back in high school and kind of knew what to expect. I usually use my weekends to catch up on school work, and just the thought of paying another fee after buying textbooks for the semester . . . “Yeah, I’ll pass,” I remember saying to myself.
But God began working on my heart through two colleagues and the Mercy Hill community. After seeing the fruit that was being produced in their lives, it was pretty clear that this was something worth checking out. Looking back on that conversation almost a year later and seeing how much I’ve grown since then . . . Fall Retreat was where it all started for me. It led me to see how the only appropriate response to my salvation was for me to live all in for his mission—all in for God’s church, all in for God’s glory, and all in for God’s mission.
All in for God’s Glory
Friday evening after wrapping up classes and knocking out schoolwork to free up my schedule for the busy weekend, my friends and I packed up and headed up to Black Mountain as we cracked jokes, talked about life, and tried to get to know each other better. On night one we heard from Pastor Mark Turner (Church planter, Redemption Heights) as he introduced us to the theme for the weekend entitled “Culture Shock”, where he challenged us not to neglect culture but to live in and for culture by engaging it with the gospel.
For the next 2-3 hours, after hearing Christ-centered preaching, awesome worship, and attending equip sessions to learn how to make disciples on my campus, it made me hungry for more! This made me reflect on past experiences and see how this was something that I needed and had not been getting. Though nothing I heard was completely foreign to me, it drove me to check my heart and ask the question: “If I believe that Christ is the only way, and I live to carry out his mission, am I a part of a community who lives to see that mission exist?” From the preaching to conversations with people in my room, it became pretty evident that showcasing the glory of God through word and deed was something that Mercy Hill was intentional in carrying out. It compelled me to live my life in such a way that reflected the glory of my Savior.
All in for God’s Mission
The next day we were given the option to either go on a mountain trail or visit downtown Asheville for free time. There I got to meet a lot of new friends as we all quickly got to know each other through sharing similar backgrounds and life experiences. Afterwards we headed back to Ridgecrest for dinner and another breakout session. Later, after hearing Pastor Mark preach and getting poured into by our leaders, one of the things that stuck with me was the idea of how we’re saved so that we can be sent. For me this was huge because I’ve always thought of ministry as something that only pastors, missionaries, or someone on a church staff can do. But it opened my eyes to see how in the same way Jesus was sent into the world to save us, I should have no problem living my life on mission for him, on my campus and in the workplace. Going to Fall Retreat led me to reflect on the lengths that Christ went for me and compelled me to go back to my campus and live on mission for him. I realized that being all in is the only appropriate response we can give to the gospel.
If you can go to Fall Retreat, go! If you can’t go to Fall Retreat, consider supporting by sending someone who can! And if you’re on the edge asking yourself like I did, “Is it worth it?” then believe me, the memories that you will have there will be priceless.
-Stephan Douglas (MH College Student)