Thursday, May 19, 2011

Something Deeper

After months of prayers, texts, meetings, preparation, and facebook messages, the second annual Deeper Retreat finally got underway last Friday night. Twenty-four women (that's 10 more than last year!), ages 18-30ish from Sydney, Newcastle, Gosford, and Oklahoma gathered in Casuarina Lodge of Point Wolstoncroft Sport and Recreation Centre because they were thirsty and hungry. They were thirsty for a deeper relationship with God, hungry for a deeper understanding of who they were are and who God is. Though they were different ages, from different cities or countries, went to different churches, they still had these desires in common. Friday night was about getting to know each other. Anne organized a great game where everyone got a piece of a puzzle with a different symbol on the back. We started the game by finding someone with something in common with us (same shoe size, eye color, birth year, etc.), and then we'd ask them the question that corresponded with our symbol. It was so fun to find out new things about each other. After the game, we had supper and Tiffany Buck (one of the HIM workers from Campbelltown) did an awesome devo about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and how that is such a blessing. After the devo, we got into groups based on the symbol on the back of the puzzle piece. These groups, we discovered, were our prayer groups, which we spent time in that evening sharing and praying. We finished off the rest of the night playing Nertz and writing notes for each other's blessing boxes.


Saturday morning started bright and early with brekky and a devo. Jamie Canham (a former Sydney HIM worker who is here visiting on a holiday! Such a blessing to share this time with her!) talked about having emergency phone numbers in the Bible. She was referring to those Scriptures we can always turn to when we feel dry or empty that can rejuvenate us. The rest of the morning and early afternoon we spent listening to our guest speaker, Ronya Johnson. Ronya is an American married to an Aussie from Brisbane, Queensland. She and her husband have been working there for 10 years with a church in various ministries. I met Ronya at a few camps last year and knew she would be a perfect fit to speak at Deeper. Ronya talked about using our S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences) to determine God's purpose for our lives. We focused on the fact that God didn't make us unique so we could all do the same job, but that he made us all different for different purposes. We spent time in Judges 6 looking at Gideon as he tried to come to terms with God's purpose for his life. Ronya used lots of interactive activities, personal stories, and Scripture to help us discover our S.H.A.P.E. Even now, after being away from camp for a few days, I am still mulling over the things she stirred up in my heart, and I'll be processing them for awhile!


Saturday afternoon, after Ronya's final session, we had a prayer walk out to the Point of Lake Macquarie, which surrounds our camp site. We were randomly paired up and given a third person to pray for on the way to the Point and a person to pray for on the way back. My prayer partner was Marcelle. We had a wonderful time of prayer for our two girls, as well as got to spend time chatting and catching up as we walked the 3 kms there and 3 kms back. Everyone enjoyed the prayer walk so much that it was dark by the time we all made it back for dinner. After dinner, we had another devo by Amanda (from Gosford). She talked about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River before going into Jericho. We spent the rest of the evening having supper, playing cards, praying in our prayer groups, writing cards, and laughing until the early morning hours.


I woke up nervous on Sunday morning. Amber and I were responsible for leading worship, and I wasn't exactly sure how to get across all the things I wanted to say. We set up the room with chairs in groups of four. The girls were asked to come into worship quietly to prepare their minds and to sit in their prayer groups. Worship was in the form of a prayer concert, similar to what we did last year. We looked at the acronym D.E.E.P., focusing on the words Discipleship, Equip, Energy, and Perseverance. We read Scriptures and sang songs (led by one of the STAMP students, Sarah) about each of those words. After the songs and readings about each word, we asked the girls to pray either silently or as a group about the particular word. One of my favorite things about doing worship in this interactive way is hearing all the groups praying out loud at the same time and knowing that God can hear all of those prayers. I was responsible for the words equip and energy, and as usual it didn't matter what I had prepared to say about them. God took over as soon as I opened my mouth and gave me the words He wanted me to say. At the end of the prayer concert, I transitioned D.E.E.P. into the Lord's Supper. After the prayer for the bread was said, each group was given unleavened bread (homemade and so yummy!). We asked for each girl to share what the bread meant to her with the rest of the group. Then, each girl was supposed to tear off a piece of the bread for the girl beside her to eat, until everyone in the group had spoken and been given the bread. We repeated this process with the cup. Because Amber and I were leading worship and not sitting with our prayer groups, we did the Communion process by ourselves, which was so special! I love hearing how other people connect with God during this time each week and also getting their slightly different perspective on it. Communion was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me!


After worship, we headed back to the lodge for lunch and to pack up to go home. Everyone was gone by 3:30 pm when I pulled away. Watching Lake Macquarie slowly disappear in my rear view mirror was very bittersweet. Organizing this whole retreat and facilitating worship times for other women of God is such an adrenaline rush; it's like my drug. When I am doing a Communion talk or praying out loud with other girls, I just feel like I am doing exactly what I am good at, exactly what God made me to do. Thinking about not being here for Deeper 2012 and knowing that I won't be in full-time ministry position when I get home is pretty heart-wrenching. Yet, I have faith. I have faith that Deeper will continue without me, because it was never about me or one person. It was about young adult women from churches all over New South Wales being recharged and stretched in their relationship with God. Every girl is an active part of this retreat and they all love this weekend of renewal this year. They need this weekend of renewal each year, so I have faith it will keep going. God used this weekend to teach all of us about Himself and about ourselves; I have faith that He is not done with Deeper yet.


Typical picture of Amber and I.


Tiffany's devo on Friday night.


Our Lodge


Prayer Concert at Worship on Sunday.


The whole group (minus Margaret our fabulous cook) on the prayer walk in front of Lake Macquarie.



Amber and I leading worship/prayer concert on Sunday morning.


Marcelle and I on our prayer walk to the Point.

Jamie and Jenny: reunited

Some of the Deeper Girls

2 comments:

  1. Hi i’m Heather! I have a question for you! Please email me :)
    HeatherVonSJ[at]gmail[dot]com

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  2. Just stumbled on this post. So blessed to read it and be taken back to that weekend. I am a thousand million times thankful that I was able to be there for it. God is SOOOOOOO good.

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