By Annabelle Perri
The Spirit was powerfully present at the Immanuel Community Church’s annual Labor Day weekend retreat. The months prior to the retreat, the Lord was already at work preparing the hearts and attentions of the attendees. Our Young Adult Bible study was going strong and increasing in fervor and size. Several of them decided to be baptized at the retreat, after recommitting their lives to the Lord and to serving Him through the mission and ministry of the church. This is truly a work of the Holy Spirit in reviving God’s people!
We fed on God’s word through the teaching of William Higgins. It was one of the best retreats we have had. Through a format that allowed for much congregational participation, new insights and personal application of the Word were gained. We searched and discovered the richness found in the Scriptures – in this setting, three Bible passages from the Gospel of Mark. After each service, there was a great anticipation for what the next study would open our eyes to see. Truly, God’s word never returns to Him empty but accomplishes that which He purposes and succeeds in the thing for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11).
Our final gathering on Monday morning was a great summation of the weekend. The Holy Spirit moved amongst the congregation as we worshiped and had time to reflect on what we learned from the Scriptures. The sharing prompted confession, repentance, and determination to persevere in faith. Several youth and young adults struggling with life issues came forward for prayer. They desired to break from the pull of the world and follow Jesus.
The Scriptures we had studied during the retreat, focused on three women. The hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5), the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7), and the Woman who anoints Jesus (Mark 14). Each of these women had to press in against insurmountable cultural, religious, and social obstacles. With eagerness, they pressed in for what they knew to be true, that Jesus was their answer to wholeness and healing. That conviction was emblazoned in their soul by the Holy Spirit. During Monday’s service, the Holy Spirit was impressing that same truth in the hearts of our multigenerational congregation.
Since the retreat, I am thankful for the perseverance of all the saints. I am also thankful for the continued commitment of our young adults in gathering for Bible study and prayer, in reaching out to friends and strangers, serving on the worship team and other ministries, receiving training in leading intergenerational small groups, and in understanding Anabaptist teaching on war and peace. There are those who still struggle to press in. Jesus said that the gate is narrow and the way that leads to life is difficult (Mark 7:13-14). Yet those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).
We have committed to praying and fasting, especially for the next generation of leaders, aware that the enemy seeks to devour but knowing with certainty that He who began the good work will bring it to completion until the day of Christ.
*Photo up left: Baptism at the retreat. Photos provided by the author.