Latin America/Africa Retreat 2014 Recap

All the hearts who are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy

As we sang those lyrics on the last night (“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons & Daughters), I couldn’t help but rejoice over the intimate and personal ways God met with our students throughout the week. And that is simply a testimony to the power of your prayers, because this retreat was fraught with more challenges than any prior retreat.

We dealt with logistical challenges, (we were the biggest group this conference center had ever hosted, and GYFM was in charge of ministry to elementary-aged students for the first time), technical challenges (air conditioning broke in many rooms, meeting rooms changed last minute), and relational challenges (you can imagine: we brought over 50 volunteers to work together with 3 different age groups in 5 strategic areas of family ministry, along side field leadership and home office staff).

Most of the leaders who came to serve with GYFM
Most of the leaders who came to serve with GYFM

On top of that, our students were dealing with some really heavy things – life-altering medical issues, houses demolished by hurricanes, serious questions about their faith, sexual abuse, sudden relocation, and the list goes on… It reminds me of the place in Ephesians 2:3-5 where Paul describes the bleakness and helplessness of the state we’re all in because of our sin. And yet into the despair of that moment, he inserts the words, “BUT GOD…”

[We] were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…

God intervened this week. We saw him work more clearly in students’ lives than we have ever seen before at an Area Retreat. Worship in song was vibrant and heart-felt. The students responded to the word with faith and obedience. Small groups were honest and vulnerable about what God was doing in their lives. Riva had more counseling sessions than ever before and was able to speak into some really difficult situations with timeliness, wisdom and compassion. Our GYFM teammates in Latin America were able to get lots of face time with the families they serve (a luxury when you’re involved in a global ministry), and were greatly encouraged by new opportunities for service, partnership and collaboration. The challenges felt overwhelming… BUT GOD.

Riva's small group of senior girls
Riva’s small group of senior girls

As you watch the video below, give thanks with us for the way that God brings unbelievable things out of even the darkest of circumstances. He did it this week, and we’re eagerly anticipating that he will do it again as we press on in ministry together.

Some of the guys playing soccer during free time
Some of the guys playing soccer during free time
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One thought on “Latin America/Africa Retreat 2014 Recap

  1. You gave a great summary of the conference. I wish words good truly describe all that God did in each person’s heart. It was amazing watching God use you, Brooks, as you used your gifts for Him teaching truths from God’s Word. I am in awe of what a great counselor you are, Riva. Thank you both for using your gifts God has given you to continue to build up and strengthen His children. Everyone could benefit from having a Riva and Brooks in their lives!

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