Every year we look forward to the Santa Cruz fall retreat with the Jr. High Students where we come together to get to know God (and each other) during a weekend away from home. We asked Jr. High Students to reflect on when God showed up during retreat and here is what they had to share:

“I saw Jesus on Sunday morning when all of the youth group surrendered their lives to Jesus. I loved the trip!” -Shaya Shultz

“At Santa Cruz God really touched me the whole time, from the quiet time to pray to the time of running on the beach, I could feel his presence. It was fun!” -Jesse Ellis 

“I learned God walks with me all the time, even if it’s bad or good.” -Adrianna Rodriguez 

“Audrey spoke on Sunday morning and her lesson was eye-opening for how to live out our faith. I thought it was super sweet that Meagan and Audrey took time to look up the definition of our names to tell us we are special and God gave us our names for a reason.” -Claire Predmore

“God moved us closer to the light of Jesus. The leaders talked to us and prayed for each of us.” -Elliot Fortmeyer 

“God opened my eyes to appreciate his creations. For example, the beach and ocean. God also showed me that my great friends are a gift.” -Alex Meadors

“God gave us hope that leads to freedom.” -Yanelly Solorio 

“…the leaders looked up our names and told us all encouraging words about ourselves.” -Bella Johns 

“I felt closer to Jesus by being at the beach and spending time with him.” -Andrew Vaccaro 

“I got to go the beach for the first time and spend time with my friends. I learned God walks with me through the good and bad.” -Dyann Ramirez

“We stood up on the last day and the leaders told us what our names meant and how they thought it applied to our lives. This was neat because it allowed us to get to know each other on a deeper level.” -Riliegh Armstrong 

“I felt like God was at work during the quiet time at the beach. It made me pray about all my worries and stresses and I felt peace about all of it, so I could enjoy the rest of my weekend not worrying.” -Laura Crantz 

Wow! Praise and glory to our God! Our student’s reflections are profound and encouraging. They remind me of the very purpose in a fall retreat where we get to grow in relationship with God and one another. We bonded as a community with a beautiful place to connect, laugh, and worship together. God showed up in big ways as we internalized what it means to Walk in Jesus in Faith, Hope, and Surrender. In the quiet spaces God met us and the Holy Spirit moved us to fully believe, find joy, and give over all the worries we carry daily. We will, “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus” -1 Thess. 5:16-18. God did a good work in our hearts and minds and continues to move us towards him and one another. He is worthy of all our praises and hears our prayers. God knows our name, God knows our hurts and God loves us right where we are today. Thank you Jesus for encountering the leaders and students in a special way during this Santa Cruz Retreat! Also, big thank you to all who give generously to the church offering that makes these types of trips possible! 

Meagan Bergem