The buses arrived at New Life Ranch on Friday with blue skies, horses trotting in the pasture, and smiles on the faces of John Brown University’s students. A record breaking 300 students took a weekend away from campus to participate in the annual Breakaway retreat.
The weather stayed clear and bright for students to enjoy activities such as zip-lining in the trees, canoeing in the river and hiking trails into nature.
Students that attended the weekend trip had the opportunity to hear sessions and God’s word from Cary Balzer.
Those who came to the retreat enjoyed s’mores around the campfire, fellowship in worship led by students and small group time to discussions with peers.
Breakaway director Carlos Sandoval said the goals that he envisioned and planned for the special weekend were accomplished.
“On the team with four directors and Lisa Corry, we wanted to get people involved and find a theme to impact JBU.”
“We were able to ask students what they wanted in advance and we understood that JBU wanted and could be even more intentional with spiritual development,” Sandoval said.
“Contagious” was the weekends theme, discussing the catagious nature of sin and the cure, the gospel. Sandoval reflected on what he took away from the messages spoken at Breakaway.
“We need to be contagious about seeking God,” Sandoval said, “Balzer’s talks were spot on. Because there are times when we don’t realize we are being tempted by sin, but we need to be more aware and avoid it in our lives.”
Sandoval said a highlight for him was when Balzer spoke about confession. “I had never considered the importance of confessing our sins to others and being open about it.”
He said that he enjoyed the weekend to be able to process with others, have freedom from campus and have fun.
Sophomore Tara Salee said she needed this weekend to get away and get time away from technology and learn more.
“I loved getting to explore and be outside, but more than that be encouraged with the messages,” Salee said.
“This weekend made me more open about sharing my struggles. We don’t have to be afraid to talk about sin, God’s grace is bigger than that,” Salee said.
“In high school I used to be ashamed about sharing my faith.
Since coming to JBU I’m so thankful to share and be able to pray in class! This weekend reminded me about being confident about sharing and being a light to others.”
Chrissy Bartholomew is a transfer student from the University of Arkansas and said she has loved being in this new and positive environment.
“It’s amazing that we go to a school that does events like this! It was such a cool place to get away,” Bartholomew said.
She said she was able to conquer her fears by riding the zip-line. She said she appreciated the theme as it fit perfectly.
“I learned that we need to be contagious about God’s truth once coming back to campus. It was a super fun weekend, and it now feels like one big family, as we are all together,” said Bartholomew.