This past weekend, almost 100 students left the stress of school for three days of reflection, fellowship, relaxation and no cell service. The students were given the opportunity through the men and women’s retreats to unplug from the world, learn from two dynamic speakers, strengthen old relationships and make new ones in beautiful, secluded settings.
The women traveled east to Camp Egan in Oklahoma to hear from Meaghan Rantz about the concept of being beloved and how to care for the soul. Rantz, who graduated from JBU three years ago with a degree in family and human services, connected her testimony to 3 John 1:2 through four sessions. She encouraged the women to find the balance in the tension of doing the hard things that are required as a Christ-follower and doing the things that are necessary to maintain a healthy soul.
The girls randomly split into groups after each session to discuss and personally apply the topic. Grace Dunn, one of the organizers of the women’s retreat, said the randomness of the groups was meant to put girls together who had not previously met. “It was a way to connect seniors to freshmen, engineering majors to education majors, groups that normally don’t mix,” Dunn said.
During the majority of the free time, the girls gathered in the large common space of the retreat center to play games, share conversation and catch up on reading.
The men drove two hours in the opposite direction to Ponca, Ark. to hear from JBU’s choir director, Chad Clark, about the discipline of being a Christ-follower.
Freshman Jacob Crouthamel said Clark challenged the men to institute the discipline of focused meditation on God into their daily lives. “He taught that meditation can really be beneficial,” Crouthamel said. “Taking that time out of your day to do it is really important to be able to grow in your walk with Christ and your faith as a whole.”
Clark explained that as men of God, they must strengthen their faith and walk with Christ through taking time to focus on God.
This year, the some of the guys braved the cold temperatures and spent their hours of free time hiking Lost Valley Trail and exploring the caves in the area despite the cold temperatures, while others stayed in the warmth to do homework or play board games.
Taylor Weber, a sophomore who participated in the men’s retreat last year, said even though the retreat is structured around the talks and discussion, there is plenty of free time built into the schedule.
Weber said the retreat comes at the perfect time in the semester. “Week seven and eight are always hard, every semester,” he said. “It’s the halfway mark where everyone’s exhausted, and it’s amazing how being there for two days can completely revitalize and encourage you to keep going.”