Greetings in the Lord! After the great disappointment of needing to cancel the 2020 Youth Equipped to Stand
(YES!) Retreat, our staff was determined to make a “live” event happen this year. Two years in the life of a teen is an eternity. We had a “virtual” retreat in 2020, which was certainly better than nothing, but does not compare to the power of praying together and being together. Stephen Giles, our YES! Re
treat director, filled us in on YES 2021.
“Our theme was Thy Kingdom Come! It turned out to be a very timely theme for 2021. In our staff prayer before the retreat, we sensed that our youth needed to hear the Lord and by touched by Him; that it was time to re-engage after the ‘pause button’ that was the past year. We felt that the youth needed to be moved toward ‘wanting to want’ what the Lord had for them. To move towards being loyal to Christ and not to the world. Only in the Lord is our hope.
“We had 160 youth (about 2/3 of a ‘normal’ YES! Retreat) in person, and about 30 more participating online. Travel was not possible for teens from some states, and not at all for Canadian youth. Michindoh Camp, where we held the retreat, had Covid protocols, and we were able to use those to make as safe a retreat as possible. We could be outside without masks, and when indoors we masked and kept to our ‘pods,’ which were distanced from other ‘pods.’ The pods worked great for housing, meals, worship, talk sessions, discussion groups, and prayer ministry.
“All the kids were repeating how great it was to be there, but the happiest group had to be the sophomores—they missed what was supposed to be their first YES! Retreat last year. They were really ready to engage! The teens were right there, participating in worship, and attentive during the talks and breakout sessions.”
Here are a few of the comments that the youth wrote on their evaluation forms:
“For most of high school, I believed the lie that I was only ‘tolerated’ and not actually loved by anyone. During the prayer session, I asked for prayers to deal with this lie. As soon as my small group started to pray over me, I felt a very strong sense of love and fellowship from God and from my group.”
“Before YES, I was having a difficult time worshipping and really seeing the Lord as the King…worship had become foreign to me. With COVID restrictions, it had been so long since I was able to do praise and worship. Coming into YES Retreat 2021, learning the theme was ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, I knew I was in trouble. But during the first praise and worship session, everything just clicked. As I sang, I thought about all the struggle of the past year, and it just hit me. I suddenly saw all the victories the Lord has won in my life; I realized that he has won THE victory; that he is powerful and mighty. And all I wanted to do was lift my hands and praise him and worship him and sing to him. My soul cried out, ‘You are my King and my God.’”
“Although I come from a very faith-based family, where my parents set an amazing example of having Christ on their ‘thrones,’ during my junior year and the beginning of my senior year of high school I had lost a lot of my faith. I didn’t really care about my relationship with the Lord, and I went to church only because my parents made me. I love riding and training horses, but I put horses and school on my ‘throne’ rather than God. During YES 2021, I was able to realize who should be King of my life. I was one of the people who stood to say that I wanted to give my life to Jesus and set Him on my throne. It will be a daily choice, but the retreat gave me exactly the push that I needed to turn my life around in the right direction: toward Je-sus.”
“The YES Retreat in one word: phenomenal. In two words: life changing. In five words: best weekend of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so at peace with my life and whatever plan God has for me than during the retreat. I don’t think I can describe the pure fulfillment I felt in the Lord and how many things changed in that moment. And that feeling didn’t just go away when I went home. I intend to carry what I learned at the YES Retreat into the rest of my life and grow upon it.”
Well, that makes all the work worth it! Many thanks to Stephen and his staff for making this retreat happen. Thanks to the Lord for all the answered prayers for the retreat. It is humbling to be used by the Lord to reach his precious young people and see them respond to the call to follow Jesus, for their lives, for the rest of their lives. Thanks so much for being part of this ministry. The Lord is blessing our partnership in reaching young people!
Your brother in Christ,