A week ago, around 80 students from Mizzou and Columbia College packed into cars and headed down to the Lake of the Ozarks-region of Missouri for our annual Guys’ and Girls’ Retreats. I thoroughly enjoyed Guys’ Retreat (and I’m sure Girls’ Retreat was lovely, too, but there was likely much less mud and tug of war there). Below are some pics from the weekend and at the bottom is a testimony of God’s wonderful faithfulness!
As has become our tradition, we began Guys’ Retreat with “Fourway Tug of War.” I did surprisingly well for being as little of a guy as I am. Unfortunately, we followed up Tug of War with Capture the Flag, which was rained out…
After multiple years of eating half-cooked bacon and eggs, which took literally hours to prepare, we finally wised up and brought precooked casseroles. Missi, our pastor’s wife, created them. The center one is a kind of cinnamon roll casserole and the other contains bacon, eggs and hash browns Light years ahead of when I was in school, I tell you what.
Here, the guys gathered around dinner, Norman Rockwell-style. We ate foil packs (a staple I remember fondly from Boy Scouts), which were basically hamburger meat and vegetables wrapped in aluminum foil and cooked on hot coals for an hour. They can be delicious or awful—entirely depending on how much sense for spices the one who makes it has. (Example: the cinnamon we inexplicably brought = not tasty on hamburger.)
We had wonderful times of worship throughout the weekend. Our male worship team is doing phenomenally well. In years past, our worship team has been mostly women and so Guys’ Retreat’s worship has been… let’s say, less than spectacular. This year was great as the guys sought God with some of the most fervor I’ve ever seen from them.
Harry has been coming to Chi Alpha for almost as long as I’ve been on staff here. He was invited by his roommate, a Chinese guys named “Eclipse” who became a Christian last school year. Harry came around some last year, but last semester, he really faithfully began attending James’ small group, and his love for learning about God became evident. In fact, he was one of the first students to excitedly sign up for Guys’ Retreat.
After the Saturday night service, I came over to Harry to pray for him. We ended up talking for around half an hour, and I asked him what was standing between him and following Jesus. Through the course of our conversation, I was able to share with him how even I—a Christian minister—have doubts, and how that’s okay! God is not afraid of our doubts. I spoke of how we come to God as we are, and so even if Harry has some beliefs that don’t line up to the Bible, he doesn’t need to get all his ducks in a row now. Come as he is and Jesus will open his eyes to areas he needs to grow in as he reads the scriptures and develops in maturity. After all, I pointed out, there are some American cultural values that run counter to the Gospel (like success being defined by how much money you have) that I still struggle with.
Harry was really appreciative. We prayed. He didn’t become a Christian.
Sometimes, that’s how it goes. You pour yourself out, in hopes that God will transform someone’s heart, and then nothing seems to happen.
…sometimes something does. James contacted me today to tell me that Harry has become a Christian! I don’t know all the details, but James told me that apparently some of the things I shared with Harry really hit home. That’s something that is important for all of us, including me, to remember: we faithfully share the Gospel regardless of the immediate results we see. If James or I or the countless other students who have shared the Gospel with Harry over the course of the last year and a half had stopped after one go, I would never be sharing this testimony with you. But instead, we joyfully welcome a new brother into the Kingdom of God! Thank you, Jesus, for this reminder that You are faithful and that You call us to faithfulness, not merely results.