Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Senior Asha Caruthers and sophomore Elisa Muñoz attend the annual spiritual retreat.

High Schoolers Commit to Christ at Annual Retreat

Story by Tim Soper

The start of a school year brings new challenges, opportunities and stresses. Establishing a solid foundation for success is paramount. Hence, the high schoolers at Chesapeake Conference's Spencerville Adventist Academy (SAA) began their school year at SAA’s annual high school spiritual retreat, focusing together on the promise found in Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13, NKJV).

The weekend retreat, held at the Mt. Aetna Retreat Center in Hagerstown, Md., provided time for students and faculty to build a foundation in God’s Word while creating and strengthening friendships in that spiritual context.

Students had the opportunity to build those relationships in a variety of ways throughout the weekend. Matthew Mendez, a junior, says that he “really enjoyed making a banner with those in his cabin, and appreciated the chance to bond with them.” Others, such as sophomore Eli Benavides, “loved playing capture the flag and other games” because he “got to hang out and have fun with new people.”

Throughout the Sabbath hours, organizers prepared activities to help students focus on deepening their relationship with Jesus. Emilie Rodrigues, a junior, recalled the “night hike” as being particularly meaningful. After sundown, math teacher John Musselman led the students on a walk up a mountain to a spot where they were invited to view the stars and contemplate the wonders of God’s creation. “This experience,” says Rodrigues, “was a very special moment. It ended up bringing me to tears because I felt the presence of God in my heart.”

Throughout the weekend, Kenia Reyes de Leon, director of Chesapeake Conference’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries, spoke to the students from the Word on the importance of relying on Christ in all things. During the final Sabbath evening program, the student body responded as a group to a call to commit to Christ, an experience that senior Cata Stiehm says was especially impactful to her, as it showed that her friends and classmates were all in it together for Jesus.

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