This past February, our students experienced something unique. Instead of our whole student body gathering together for a discipleship weekend, the guys had their own retreat at ClearView while the girls joined hundreds of other students at the LifeWay Girls Conference. The weekend was life-changing for many of our students. This is what they had to say about their experiences:
What was one thing that surprised you about the weekend?
I was surprised to find so many different, relatable breakout sessions offered. Through the breakout sessions, I was very convicted, and learned many new things about my faith, college, figuring out my calling in life, and solutions to problems about friends I was facing before the weekend. (Meghan Garrison, 12th Grade)
He hand-crafted us, our image, and created us exactly the way he wanted us to look. We shouldn't want to change anything, and we should be confident, because the Creator of the UNIVERSE made us all different for a reason. (Karenna Cox, 8th Grade)
I honestly went into this weekend expecting the Lord to use me for the benefit of other people, so my expectations were in the mindset of service. Of course, God had a totally different plan. I'm grateful the Lord chose this weekend to give me clarity about my situation and my future. (Rachel Ault, 11th Grade)
What was one thing you learned this weekend that was brand new to you (something that stretched your faith; something spiritual you understood for the first time)?
We need to stop acting different just to please other people. (Ross Johnston, 7th Grade)
Lauren Bush taught a breakout session on the fear of failure. As a perfectionist, I learned how God can use our failures for good, and we should embrace them. (Chloe Rainey, 10th Grade)
Many people wear masks. We are disguising our real selves so people will like us more. (Jeb Butler, 10th Grade)
The main verse for the weekend was Esther 4:14. Esther was afraid of the calling God had given her, to help her people. God placed her in the palace for "such a time as this". God created all of His children with a specific calling, but He never told us to wait. He created us to act in “such a time as this”. Our generation was created for a purpose and I loved this revelation. (Rachel Ault, 11th Grade)
When you don't get what you want, don't be sad, but think of all of the good things He's done in your life. Ask yourself how He has proved to be faithful. (Karenna Cox, 8th Grade)
We are given birthright gifts from God, and those gifts help us overcome our burdens. Once our birthright gifts and burdens come together, we find our meaning or calling in life in a way where we can efficiently give glory to God. (Meghan Garrison, 12th Grade)
Many people regret their high school experiences and realize later on that they could have made a greater impact. This really changed my thoughts on high school, because it challenged me to make sure that I don't feel like that when I graduate. (Andrew Brackins, 10th Grade)
What was your favorite part of the weekend? (It could be an activity you did or a break-out session you attended.)
I really liked the time we spent at our host home. I felt like I had an amazing chance to build my relationships with the other guys in my grade. (Jeb Butler, 10th Grade)
I loved the prayer experience we did. It was so cool to literally see God moving. (Chloe Rainey, 10th Grade)
I enjoyed the breakout session called, “Finding Joy on the Worst Days”. I liked learning the different ways to overcome stress, by giving it to God, and finding peace in ‘letting go and letting God.” (Meghan Garrison, 12th Grade)
My favorite part of the weekend was Friday night worship. I really felt God’s presence and conviction in my life. (Andrew Brackins, 10th Grade)
What surprises you about your faith or God Himself?
I never really grasped the difference between being a man of God and a man in the world’s view. I sort of had a blended view. I thought that you should be godly, but I also considered beards and muscle as a part of manhood as well. Now I know that things like that aren't part of true manhood, and I should find my identity as a man in Christ. (Andrew Brackins, 10th Grade)
God redirects my life and even when it seems exactly the opposite of what I’ve planned, it always ends up causing me greater joy than anything I could have ever planned for myself. (Meghan Garrison, 12th Grade)
People tell me that "God spoke to them" or they "felt God telling them this" and so on, but I've never experienced that. This weekend, God clearly showed me that He has been working in my life for a while now, and I've just been running from it. Thankfully, He's given me grace. (Rachel Ault, 11th Grade)
Many of us call ourselves Christians, but at the end of time, some of us might cry, "Lord, Lord," and God could say that he never knew us. (Jeb Butler, 10th Grade)
After this weekend, what do you know now that’s something your classmates and friends need to hear (a message for your generation)?
I think it's time for our generation to start acting NOW. Our world is so broken and so messed up, and it's our duty to share the Gospel to heal what is broken. God has placed us in our schools with our friends for a reason, and I believe it's about time that we showed God what we can do with the resources He has given us. (Rachel Ault, 11th Grade)
I need to tell my classmates that we are one of a kind and that God has a plan for each one of us. (Rachel Kitchens, 6th Grade)
Be yourself! Find out who your real friends are. (Ross Johnston, 7th Grade)
We all need to be real with each other. As guys we're prone to shoving down our emotions and struggles so we don't seem weak. Instead, we should trust each other with what's going on in our lives and rely on each other. (Andrew Brackins, 10th Grade)
If we want to see a huge difference in our community, schools, churches, etc., all we have to do is be kind to one another, and show the example of love Jesus did when He walked the very same earth. (Meghan Garrison, 12th Grade)
We are all wearing a mask that disguises who we really are. That mask does nothing but hurt our real image. Popularity is fleeting, and God doesn't care if you have 100 "fake" friends. In the end, all of it is in vain. (Jeb Butler, 10th Grade)
Don't be insecure with yourself. You were made exactly how God wanted you to look like, and He wouldn't change anything about you. You shouldn't worry about what other people think of you, because you already know that the Creator of the universe loves you and wants a relationship with you. That should be enough. (Karenna Cox, 8th Grade)
You don't have to conform to the world's idea of beauty, or manhood, or anything else that is supposed to define who you are. (Chloe Rainey, 10th Grade)
Do you have a specific story to share about the weekend?
During the break-out session, the leader, Kyle, was completely transparent and real with us. I really appreciated how he shared with us the hardships he had and still has. (Jeb Butler, 10th Grade)
I haven't felt as close to God as I used to for the past two years. I wanted Fuge Camp to just "fix" it last year, and when it didn't, I just continued on even though I couldn't take it. I tried many things like devotions and failed. But this weekend finally brought that closeness back, and I feel revived. It’s amazing. (Chloe Rainey, 10th Grade)
I realized that I needed to read my Bible more, pray more and be more kind. If you're ever having a hard time or you're sad, reading your Bible helps. It’s God's words and it's the truth. Annie F. Downs talked about how effective it is to be kind. She said that being kind, even with just a smile, can make someone’s day. She said that Jesus knew His friend would turn on Him before it happened, yet He was still kind to him. (Karenna Cox, 8th Grade)
God has been laying on my heart that I need to use my talents for His glory and for His kingdom. Leading up to the retreat, I started feeling restless about my future which is not normal for me, considering I had already planned everything out. During the retreat, God kept bringing up the thing I had been running from: starting a blog. Starting a blog sounded very mainstream. Several speakers talked about our callings and what God intended us to do for His Kingdom, and I felt God wanted me to write, not only for myself but for the benefit of other girls like me. On Saturday night, I created a blog called "Perfectly Imperfect" and I can't wait to see where God takes it. I'm so grateful God decided to stir my heart this weekend and give me the courage to take a step out into unknown waters. (Rachel Ault, 11th Grade)