Fall Retreat in Dowelltown, Tennessee was an incredible November weekend for 6th through 12th grade students. They not only braved the cold weather but also participated in incredible activities like completing a high ropes course, swinging over the side of a steep incline and exploring in a cave.
Throughout the weekend, students gathered in several small groups to discuss what they were learning and to go through some thought-provoking questions concerning their faith. The theme of “I Am: Rescued, Redeemed and Royalty” was interwoven into their conversations.
Carter Fruetel, a 7th grade student, said: "In my small group, I learned that God chose me even before I was born, and this has deepened my relationship with him."
Honour Grand, a 6th grader, commented: “I thought small group was great! I met new people and learned a lot. I learned that Jesus rescued us and chose us from the day we were born. We are royalty with God. We don't need to spend all our life worrying how great this life should be but look forward to our life in heaven.”
Not only were the activities full of excitement, but each element compared the experience to our walk with Christ in a metaphor. Gabe Robinett, an 11th grade student, explained it well.
The Hubs Course really challenged me, because I was so high off the ground. The only thing holding me was a piece of rope. While I was up there, I was unsure if the rope would really hold me, and I didn’t really trust it. Even through my doubts, whenever I slipped and thought I would fall, the rope rescued me. I realized that this is like our relationship with God, because even when we have low or little faith, God will always rescue us no matter how scary things seem to be.
Carter Fruetel added: “The cave was an adventure. It's like life because there are lots of obstacles, but God is always there.”
Two worship services were held underneath a large white tent. The Robbie Alderman Band led the worship time. Jacob Scrimpshire challenged students with two convicting messages. The first night, he asked students to evaluate their hearts and to see if they were enemies of God.
Kendra Satterwhite, a 9th grader, had some great thoughts on the message from Saturday night. She stated:
Loving your enemies is sometimes the one thing we don't want to do. Why should we love someone who hates us? Jacob talked about the attacks on Paris, and how when we hear something about a terrorist attack, we immediately want to jump to anger. But this is not the response Jesus wants you make. We are told to love them! You are told to love the murderers who kill Christians. Love the people who persecute you.
Katey Koon, an 11th grade student, shared about the Sunday night message. “I was in awe at Jacob's reminder that the Lord is coming back soon. I greatly needed the encouragement to feel a sense of urgency to share the Gospel with the unbelievers in my life. I walked out of that worship time feeling a strong motivation to do so!”
Carter Frutel’s thoughts summarized the importance of students gathering together for a weekend of spiritual growth and encouragement. “I love retreats because they give us the opportunity to unplug from life and dig deep into God’s Word, make connections with friends and have an awesome time.“