“Wow, there are a lot of adults
here!”, one 17-year old girl exclaimed after walking into the kitchen about two
hours into the youth retreat. Her
assessment was correct; the design was intentional. Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child has
found that every kid who succeeds in the face of adversity has had at least one
committed relationship with a supportive adult.
In other words, as youth empowerment expert Josh Shipp puts it: “Every
kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” Our youth ministry here at First Baptist is
rooted in this truth. Instead of the
recommended 1-5 ratio of adults per youth, we practiced a 1-1 ratio this last
weekend at our annual Breathe Retreat.
Twenty one adults invested in twenty one teenagers over the course of
two days. Doneen and Bob Brubaker opened
up their home to twenty one teenagers. I
feel like that sentence deserves repeating.
The Brubaker’s opened up their home to be invaded by twenty one
teenagers! Darcie Raines worked
diligently to plan, grocery shop, prep, and cook five meals for over 40
people. While at the retreat, Meredith
Hanna, Maria Webb, Syralja Griffin, Heather Vandiver, and Lauren Ostendorff
volunteered to help cook. Julie
Hedgepeth, Jennifer Catha, Shai Ewing, Matt Catha, and Josh Yarborough spent
the whole weekend leading youth — staying up late, cleaning, listening, sharing
their stories, and living out what it means to follow Jesus. Sarah Sherry, Candace Chaney, and Aaron Mussat offered three unique workshops in painting,
photography, and running on Saturday afternoon. Our speaker, Cam Reynolds, and worship
leader, Phillip Cole, prepared deep and meaningful worship experiences for our
youth to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Finally, our loving church family prayed for us before and during the
I would call this weekend a
success. Not only because we met our
goal for registration, stayed under budget, drank six huge tubs of hot
chocolate, conquered walking on a slack line, got about six hours of sleep each
night, and made it to church bathed and on time Sunday morning, but because we
accomplished the most important goals.
We sang, we laughed, we spent a full hour in silence and solitude, we
prayed, we ate delicious food, we wore our pajamas all day long, we met new
friends, and we shared embarrassing stories around a bonfire. Most importantly, we immersed ourselves in
the truth of the gospel story. In
Matthew chapter seven, Jesus describes the difficult path of discipleship:
“narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” At the Breathe Retreat, we were reminded that
following Jesus is difficult and uncomfortable.
Our speaker challenged us to consider if everything in our lives is
comfortable and easy, we may not be following Jesus down the narrow road. God moved among us, convicting us, renewing
our minds, and refreshing our souls with His goodness and truth. We walked away from the retreat with a new
fervor to follow Jesus on the narrow path, not giving up when we fail or fall
because God believes in us.
Thank you First Baptist family for
noticing our teenagers — for seeing them, listening to them, praying for them,
loving them, and accepting them for who they are. Your investment in our youth ministry is
powerful and precious!
Minister to Students