By the time you read this newsletter, it will just about be Thanksgiving. So I’d like to tell you about something for which I am thankful.
Over the weekend of November 13-15, 58 high school students along with seven adults from our church, went to our camp at Okoboji for their fall retreat. I know that ministry is about more than just numbers, but I want to pause on this fact for just a moment.
Every year since 2011, the senior high fall retreat has grown. It has just about doubled during these past four years, becoming a highly anticipated event for students each fall. Out of these 58 students, many of them were friends who had been invited from students in our church. These new students go on the retreat and have such a powerful experience that they continue to participate in our youth ministry from that time on, inviting friends of their own to new youth events.
Of the leaders, three of them were our college interns. These interns, Thomas Lang, Ethan Schwendemann, and Taylor Shirbroun, delivered the messages to the students while a worship band from Iowa City led the worship services. So not only is our senior high youth ministry attracting larger numbers of students than in the past, it’s also raising up leaders from within its midst. Thomas, Ethan, and Taylor all went through our youth ministry and now they are helping to lead it. Similarly, Libby, our new youth and young adult coordinator, had also gone through our intern program and the senior high ministry.
During the weekend, highlights for the students included spending quiet time with God in various places of the camp, meeting with various youth leaders to share some of their struggles, encouraging one another in guys and gals small groups, participating in powerful worship services, and of course, playing fun games with their friends.
I am incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of Libby Redmond, Thomas Lang, Ethan Schwendemann, Taylor Shirbroun, Andrea Wildes, Bennett Lang, and Roxanne Amhof. Please make it a point to lift up these leaders through encouraging them, praying for them, and thanking them. They are making an amazing impact in the lives of countless senior high students.
Austin D. Hill