By Jonathan Naylor *
I would like to thank the Ohio Valley District Youth for supporting Solid Rock Retreat. For those of you that do not know, Solid Rock Retreat is a weekend retreat held at the FFA (Future Farmers of America) Camp Muskingum for junior high and high school students which was held the weekend of March 2nd. For the weekend, we had a band from Malone University, and our speaker was Joe Burkhardt who spoke about the meaning of placing our identity in Christ. In addition, the youth got to choose between three classes that met twice during the weekend; the first class time was geared towards education, and the second was geared towards experience. The three classes offered were spiritual healing, spiritual gifts, and spiritual disciplines; all three focused on helping the youth grow in their relationship with Christ. The retreat was extremely powerful for the 55 youth that were present.
I would like to share what I saw and what stood out to me during the weekend. Foremost, the youth took ownership of their faith both personally and as a community of believers, encouraging and supporting one another in powerful ways. I have been working in youth ministry for eleven years and full time youth ministry for seven, so needless to say I have spent countless weekends at retreats and camps over the years. But what I noticed about this particular weekend was that they prayed over each other with authority and power like I have never seen before.
It is not uncommon for youth to come up to me or other leaders and want prayer during weekends like this, but that is not what I saw over the weekend. I witnessed youth going to other youth and requesting prayer, and more importantly, youth feeling confident enough to pray with power and authority over their brother or sister. It was amazing for me because for years I have taught my youth that I am nothing special – I do not have a special connection with God because I am a youth pastor. I do not have magic words when I pray, and God does not listen more to me than He does to them. But during this weekend I witnessed youth that actually believed this. Youth prayed over their fellow students with the faith and authority that is rarely seen in Christians three times their age. I had the great honor of standing back and watching youth, that I have taught over the years, speak into the lives of their fellow students by praying God’s identity into them. I watched as these students spoke hope and love into each other because they were open to the Holy Spirit’s voice. I cannot communicate the excitement, empowerment, hope, joy, and love I felt as I watched youth follow the lead of the Spirit and speak the word of God into each other; it was beyond words.
For all of this, I would like to thank the district for helping support this weekend for it would not been possible without your support.
If you are interested in bringing youth or supporting the retreat for next year, it will be the first weekend in March (March 1-3, 2019). I highly recommend bringing youth as it is an amazing weekend of worship and learning.
*Jonathan Naylor serves at Mt. Pleasant UMC in the Ohio Valley District and was planner of the event.