Tuesday, April 18, 2017

An Oasis of Refreshment

“I never knew we were so many.”

“This has been one of the most wonderful weeks of my life.”

“I have learned so much this week.”

"This is what heaven must be like." 

“I have been made happy!”

These were some of the comments during our final worship capping our 3 day retreat.  216 church members coming from our 22 churches gathered at a comfortable sea-side resort about 45 minutes outside Iloilo City.  Inspirational worship services, informative workshops, encouraging fellowship, abundant food, and lots of fun characterized the well-planned retreat.  For many of the attendees, this was the nicest place they had ever stayed in.

Nearly half of our church delegates were young people, age 16 and up.  At a time in their life when they are bombarded with intense temptations and life-changing decisions, the retreat provided them with a much needed Biblical worldview from which to make wise choices.  Our topics included, Knowing the Difference between Love and Lust, Understanding Youth Conflicts and finding Biblical Solutions, How to Build Godly Relationships, Learning to Discern the Dangers in our Technology-centered Culture.  

For our older folks, we had topics of Financial Freedom, Balanced Leadership, Sharing God’s Word, Raising a Godly Family, and Health and Wellness.  During each of our 3 worship services, at least 2 of our pastors gave testimony of God’s work in their lives.  We saw them as real people with real struggles, all relying on a wise and powerful God.  On Good Friday, all of us participated in a dramatic presentation of the Jewish Passover meal as we learned how each of the elements in the meal pointed to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Messianic promise.

Of course, all were very grateful to the IMB and to those individuals who contributed so much so that the people here could attend the retreat at minimal cost.  Actually, the cost per person for the 3 day retreat was about $45, the price for a budget hotel room for 1 night in the U.S.  But here, a dollar can be stretched so much further and accomplish so much more.  Everyone voiced their desire to do this again, but budget limitations means that it is uncertain if we can ever do this again.

The retreat concluded with 3 new believers being baptized in the resort’s large swimming pool.  At a time when worldly influences and cultural pressures are oppressing God’s people, the retreat was an oasis of refreshment.  Thank you so much for each of you who prayed.  My goal was to see God’s people encouraged in their faith and, based on the comments I heard, that goal was aptly met.

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