IMPACT: having a strong effect, influence or impression on someone or something.
Of all retreats I've been to in my years at The Swamp, there has not been a Teen Retreat more convicting, inspiring, and bonding than this one. This year's theme was IMPACT, and I think we all left understanding what it means to be impacted, and how to impact others.
It was truly a beautiful time at The Swamp. High school students from ALL over Georgia, and even some in surrounding states, came to The Swamp to spend a weekend in fellowship. We enjoyed some good ole' camp ultimate frisbee, deathball, dodgeball and basketball in what might be the last weekend of summer weather! But what I really enjoy at the Teen Retreat is seeing the foundations of deep, spiritual friendships through singing and worshiping, very convicting devotionals led by the teen leaders, and meaningful and vulnerable conversations. This weekend I saw teenagers expose their hearts to God and to one another, and I think they all definitely took away something from this weekend.
I'd like to share the thoughts of 16-year-old William Ruiz Diaz and what he took away from this weekend, because I think he really captured the essence of the weekend:
"This teen retreat felt different from last year's. Last year, the theme was 'INSIDE OUT', which really helped set up who I have become over the past year. Since last year, I was baptized, but I felt like I was missing something important afterwards. It wasn't my love for God, and it wasn't relationships in the church, it was the impact I would leave on others. That was what I was missing. I didn't understand it at the time, but now I do because of coming to this year's Teen Retreat. This year's theme of 'IMPACT' will really help me throughout the years."
Thank you for sharing, William. Your words are very moving and encouraging to hear, and it reminds us of how important weekends like these are. William was one of nine other high schoolers who shared their recent conversion stories in front of all the other teens. It is so amazing to see the passion and heart these kids have for living for God, and their willingness to share with others.
I really like what William said about how important it is that we leave an impact on others. That was such a priority for Jesus in the way he lived his life, and it's because of the impact he made on people that his legacy has lasted, and will last for a lifetime.
These past 8 weeks have been very difficult for a number of people, especially this weekend at the Teen Retreat. It was about 8 weeks ago that we lost a very special and dear person in our lives. For me, the death of Olivia Roberts has challenged me, my friends and my ministry in ways that we didn't feel prepared for. After the retreat this weekend, I reflected a lot about what leaving an impact means, and I am so grateful for the one that Olivia has left on our hearts. I love that thinking of Olivia is thinking of laughter and joy in everyday life. I love that her heart was so much like Jesus, and was so full of compassion for everyone, especially those who are rejected and unloved by the world. To see how she has impacted the lives of so many that surround me is incredible.
Until next week,
Dec. 29-Jan. 1
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