Men's Retreat Testimony

By Bob Schulein, Member

Hi, all. We had a reallly great time at the men's retreat last week and I wanted to share about it. In fact, I think it was awesome. Garrett's a stickler for using that word properly - Garrett do you think the trip counts as "awesome?" Alright! It was a Garrett-certified awesome retreat!

It was awesome because of how the Holy Spirit showed up. The trip came together really quickly and honestly I didn't do a great job of planning. Garrett and I thought it was important to do something and prayed for God to use the retreat in some great ways we couldn't understand.

It was a really loosely planned weekend. I wanted some fellowship time, some devotional time and some quiet time. Andrew Givens agreed to lead the devotional time and suggested John 15. We used verse 5 as our key verse. Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

We talked about what it means to "remain in Jesus" and came away thinking that a big part of it is being open to these little nudges you feel from God and following through. Already this lined up well with the spirit of the retreat. Garrett and I felt a nudge to do something and followed through with the expectation that God will deliver.

Now comes the awesome parts. As we were leaving for lunch a woman with her elderly father drove into the driveway. We thought about just leaving but took the time to talk to them. The dad grew up in one of the houses around where we were staying and wanted to view the lake the way he remembered. It was a really touching moment.

We then drove into town and took the wrong turn. We ran into a couple who drove into the ditch. We were all like, "wow, another clear opportunity from God." We helped lift their car out and told them we were here on a church retreat. They said "God bless" and we were on our way.

We finally got into town but it started to rain. Our plan to eat outside by the lake was foiled but of course God presented another opportunity. We struck up a conversation with Rusty, who quickly told us about his battle with leukemia and his wife Brenda's struggles with heart disease. We asked if we could pray for him and he agreed. He then shared about some really dark stuff that happened in his childhood and how he had been put off the church for years. We had this great opportunity to share the gospel with him and engage in some lively debate. 

Now I need to say that this whole conversation was terrifyingly uncomfortable for me. While Garrett and Andrew are ministry professionals, I'm not one to strike up a conversation with a stranger, let alone share about my faith in Jesus. But there was a clear opening and opportunity to do what God calls us to do here. And we're promised that we'll bear much fruit when we remain in God. It might be uncomfortable but that's why we have faith.

My takeaway from this weekend was one of excitement. For what we were part of on the retreat and for what's to come in the life of NCC. I want to encourage all of you to follow those little nudges you feel are coming from God to explore some new ministry opportunities in the church. Those things are going to take us to places we otherwise wouldn't go and we're going to bear much fruit for the kingdom.

I want to conclude with a followup anecdote. This retreat left me exhausted and the next day I wanted to sleep in. My daughter Hattie tried to wake me up and I gave her a little *grunt*. She said, "Dad, you need to wake up so we can read the children's bible together!" Well, that's pretty obvious what God's calling me to do. Follow the call and you'll be tired but you'll bear much fruit.

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