This year, 50 students and several adult leaders participated in Christ Redeemer Church’s annual Summer Youth Retreat at the Kull Youth Center in Ocean City, NJ from August 5th through August 10th.
The week’s theme was “The Power of Freedom.” Each night, participants gathered for a time of singing, a testimony, and a talk on freedom. (You can read more about the teaching time below). In the morning, students had a time of personal devotions followed by a small group discussion on the talk from the night before. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the beach and boardwalk, playing games in the Kull Youth Center, and hanging out with friends. Big thank you to the kitchen crew and volunteer leaders who made the trip possible.
To see some of the highlights from the week, watch the video below. Special thanks to Jake Roberts for creating the video for us!
You can also see photos of the week below.
Following the trip, Sarah Ball shared her reflections from the time away at the Sunday worship service. To hear Sarah’s reflections, click here.
Overview of the Nightly Teaching Times
As Pastor Don Willeman explained in his daily emails, each night, focused on a different aspect of freedom.
“Our teaching theme this week is ‘The Power of Freedom’. [On Sunday] night, I kicked off our series with “The Purpose of Freedom”. The point of the talk was to help us consider the definition of freedom and how tricky and elusive the idea of freedom can be. Freedom is not just getting what you want. Sometimes what we want might not be good for us. Rather, true freedom always has constraints and limitations that are fitting with our nature/purpose/design. Just like a train is designed to run on tracks (and is only “free” in so much as it stays on those tracks), so we too were made for love—to love and be loved. We were made to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as we love our self (Matthew 22:35-40). Only to the degree that we stay on these two tracks is the train of our lives be free. Sure, we are “free” to be disrespectful to our parents, our siblings, our friends, etc. But in so much we indulge in this kind of “freedom”, then we are not free to live in love relationship others.
On Tuesday night, I spoke on ‘Our Problem with Freedom’. The point of the talk was to explain why we need true freedom. Although we were made to run freely on the tracks of God’s commandments by loving God and loving our neighbor (true freedom), in a deep and spiritual sense we’ve jumped the tracks and our stuck in our own selfish pursuits. This heart attitude is deadly to our true freedom both now and eternally.
On Wednesday night, Chris Audino spoke on ‘The Person of Freedom’. The point of this talk was to explain how Jesus is the embodiment of the freedom that God wants to give us. He is God’s strong love for us that can break through the stubborn coldness of our hearts. Jesus does this by not only embodying for us the freedom we should have walked in (he perfectly obeyed God’s commandments for us), but also by paying the debt that held us in guilt and shame (Isaiah 53:5-11; Romans 6:23). Jesus lived and died to set us free.
On Thursday night, Abrm McQuarters spoke on ‘The Path of Freedom’. In his talk he walked us through the broad story of freedom (redemption) in the Bible beginning with Exodus 6. Just as God redeemed the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, so he has now sent his Son to redeem us from the inner bondage of our selfish desires. He does this by loving us all the way to death and sending his Spirit to live within us.