200 Young People. 26 Below.

This report is about 2 months late, but I figured better late then never.

IMG_9320 Almost 200 young people joined together for the first Midwest 26 Below Retreat: a missions focused retreat for young people. Sarah and I were thrilled that about 26 of our friends from the Cedar Rapids area came along with us.

IMG_9336 Sunrise Saturday morning

Nate Bramsen spoke on “Counteracting Counterfeit Christianity.” I’d say Luke 9:23 sums up the whole weekend pretty well: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me.” As Nate often emphasizes, taking up a cross isn’t something that happens to you; it’s something you choose. It’s not comfortable. It’s not popular. It’s not normal. But it’s the way to walk closely with JESUS – and nothing in this world compares to that.

Those who follow Jesus radically are not the ones truly sacrificing – they are gaining the greatest Treasure imaginable. It’s those who forfeit a close walk with Jesus for the love of this world who are the ones making the great sacrifice.

IMG_9264 In this session, Nate had everyone out of their seats participating in a group activity that illustrates how quickly evangelism can happen when people are discipling others as Jesus commanded. Many of my friends told me this session on evangelism and discipleship was their favorite. Messages available to listen to online here. (Scroll down to the bottom of page.)

IMG_9232 Brady Collier, sharing with my friends about the Bible study he and his family do with international students.

IMG_9305 Missionary Panel (Missionaries answering questions and sharing from their experiences)

In this photo, Joel Hernandez (former missionary in Mexico) is sharing about the importance of reaching out to Hispanics here in the states. Countless Mexicans bring the gospel back to their home villages because someone in the States shared it with them while they were here. Many of these villages have no other way to hear the gospel.

One of the reasons I wanted to post about this retreat was because it is a reminder of the way God is raising up young people with a heart to serve Him. So often, we hear bad reports. We hear news of sin, rebellion, and young people leaving the church. But God is working, answering prayers, and raising up “warriors” for His kingdom … warriors for truth who have a heart to know Him and bring His love and light to this confused and hurting world.

I’ve been reading Jeremiah recently and I especially appreciated Jeremiah 24:7 which says, “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.” I thought, What a good prayer to pray for others. That God would “give them a heart to know Him.”

May that be the passion of each of our hearts: to know Him.

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11).

Sarah in Washington State

WA 1 Last weekend Sarah flew to Washington state to speak for a girls’ weekend camp. I wasn’t there, but thanks to Melodie Kirk (on Sarah’s right), I still have pictures to post to share about the special weekend.

Since I wasn’t there to kill the spiders in her cabin like she usually has me do, she had to kill all 5 of them herself. But she said they stood still and let her kill them, so she was grateful for their compliance.

Washington 3 We’re grateful for Kimbrlee, the 18-year-old Bright Lights leader who hosted the camp. Sarah said she did a wonderful job, and it sounds like the Lord really blessed … even more than anyone expected!

Washington 4
The theme was “Speaking the Truth In Your Heart.” Here were the topics Sarah covered over the weekend:

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
Learn to discern lies of the world that are not consistent with Scripture, to delight in God’s Word, and to build every area of your life upon it!

Speaking Truth about God
Choose to reject the lies which girls often believe about God and to trust in Him fully. Grow deeper in your personal walk with Jesus Christ by getting to know His character.

Speaking Truth about Self
Take your eyes off yourself and put them on Jesus! Understanding who we are in Christ is the key to security and joy.

Speaking Truth about Emotions
Learn the dangers we as girls face in the area of emotions, and how to use your emotions to glorify the Lord.

Speaking Truth about Sin
Understand that the answers to dealing with guilt, regrets, and temptations are found in God’s Word. Only in Jesus will we find forgiveness, and gain power over sin and strength to walk in victory!

Speaking Truth about Purity
Choose to honor the Lord in your relationships with young men, to wait for God’s best in marriage, to walk by faith, and to use your single years for Christ.

Speaking Truth about Witnessing
Overcome common excuses and fears, and gain practical ideas about how to be a bold witness for Christ!

Washington 2 There were four small group discussion that met four times.

IMG_0643 There was also some free time for hiking, Frisbee, games, mother/daughter time, etc.

Today Sarah received an e-mail from a camp attendee with these words: “… We had a wonderful seven hour discussion on the drive home. 🙂 [My sister] and I were just talking today and saying how what Jesus did there is indescribable in a way… partly because we’re still processing everything, but it was just so good. We were trying to figure out how to describe it to people who asked us about it. We decided that one way we could say it was getting plunged into Truth, and soaking all weekend. :)”

Of course, that wasn’t Sarah–that was the WORD OF GOD bringing comfort and encouragement to their lives. Praise God for the Truth that sets us free!

If you are interested in hosting a “Speaking Truth in Your Heart” camp or weekend in your area, contact us for more information.

IMG_9817 Nickie put together a 31-page booklet that includes an outline of Sarah’s sessions.

IMG_9811 It includes the content of her Power Points (common lies girls believe, and Scriptures which refute them) as well as extra little Biblical studies.

IMG_9815 Lies have consequences! Often when we get to the root of our struggle, we see that we are telling ourselves something that is not true about God’s character. That’s what this little activity Nickie created is about. (She actually created it and some others like it for Sarah’s latest book-in-process on this subject. This is just a little preview. 🙂 )