Asia/Pacific Area Retreat 2011!

The Malaysia trip was pretty incredible. With this trip we finally completed our circuit of the globe and have spent time with the students from all of the areas MTW is in. What a privilege! This retreat had about 50-60 students, and it was awesome to get to know them and their different contexts. As the students came in there was a degree of hesitation, each of them wanting to test the waters to see how the group would feel. Some dove right in, some held back, and some were determined to be unimpressed - one student even walked in saying "so raise your hand if you think being here is lame." However, as the week went by, it was beautiful to see how everyone gelled as a group. By the time the week was over even the student who polled the lameness of the group was heard walking out the door saying, "look dad, I got all the phone numbers of my new friends!"

Twice throughout the week we took time to pray out loud together, and each time the most commonly repeated prayer was "thank you for this youth group." This might be a common thing here in the US, but for these student scattered over a dozen countries throughout the East, to be a member of a cohesive group is a unique and profound experience. This connection and unity they felt is a major piece of work we are doing, and hearing them voice their gratefulness in this way was a huge encouragement and blessing.

The small group times, which are the heart of our time with the students, can sometimes prove challenging as it can take some time to open up, but even in these it was exciting to see how quickly the students grasped the opportunity to engage. One of the things we were most excited about was the ability to connect with several students who will soon be coming back to the US for university. It was AWESOME to hear how excited they all were to know that we would be here waiting for them, especially those that will wind up in Chattanooga at Covenant College!

Drew's small group

Lindsey's small group

The whole group!

On the final evening of the Asia/Pacific Area Retreat, after we had said all our goodbyes, we walked out the doors of the youth room and saw written on the windows in the humid Malaysian condensation, “In 4 years! 4 now, Bye!”
Four years is far, far too long.

Thank you so much for all of the prayers while we were there and since we have come back. Please continue to pray that our support would be raised quickly so that our team can begin to shrink those four years.


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