Weekend retreats focus on Christian walk

On Friday evening, 140 students packed their bags, loaded up in cars and waved goodbye to John Brown University for a weekend dedicated to learning what it means to “walk” in Christ at the women’s and men’s spring retreat.

About one hundred women headed east to enjoy the weekend at New Life Ranch. Assistant director of discipleship Lisa Corry spoke on the theme “walk worthy” from Ephesians 4, where Paul instructs Christians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling.

Women’s ministry director Megan Toney said women’s retreats usually focus on knowing how beautiful Jesus thinks they are or what they could be doing better, but this retreat left the women with more questions than answers.

“Instead of someone telling me to focus more on Jesus or to have a better quiet time, Lisa came with this question, ‘What is your point of reference? What do you judge yourself by? What is success in light of it?’” Toney said. “And so I keep searching and seeking.”

When the women were not in session, free time was spent snacking on an assortment of delicious food, hanging out and catching up with friends, spending time outdoors, sliding down the hallways on mattresses, and just relaxing and having fun.

“The sweet thing about a weekend like this is the time and space we don’t usually have at school,” Toney stated. “No one is stressed because there is nothing you can do besides be with those around you. It forces you to be present.”

Freshman Kelsey Rea said the best part of the retreat was the fellowship.

“I liked being able to get together as a community of girls and hanging out with people you wouldn’t normally see or talk to,” she said. “I like everyone just gathering and becoming one.”

Community was also on the minds of the forty men gathered about a hundred miles east at Ponca Bible Camp on the Buffalo River. Jason Lanker, assistant professor of graduate ministries, taught on the theme “walk together” from Ephesians 4.

Men’s ministry director Daniel Faulkner said the theme was chosen because many men were going through life in isolation, passivity and aimlessness without true brotherhood or intentionality.

“Lanker showed how friendships are used rightly and Christ is embodied fully, by speaking the truth in love as men walk together,” Faulkner said.

The men had the opportunity to apply this lesson as they spent the weekend exploring the waterfalls, caves and bluffs around the Buffalo River. The men also chatted around the campfire, played games, rested and enjoyed the “culinary expertise” of junior Sam Dinger.

Junior Taylor Wood said the main idea he took away was to be intentional with the people around you and to talk and be vulnerable with them as you share life together.

“It’s just a great time away from campus,” Wood added. “It’s a great time to bond with other men. It’s great teaching. And Sam Dinger always cooks amazingly.”