"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spiritual Retreat

Last October our team went on our first spiritual retreat for a couple of days. We went about 2 hours outside of the city to a quiet town for some time of prayer, reflection and asking God's guidance for the future of His work here in Porto Alegre. I'm sad that it took so long for our team to finally take some time off without kids and the hustle of the big city and spend time, as a team with God, but it was also His perfect timing that we did it when we did. It was very uplifting for our team and we came away from our time together more united than ever. On our retreat we talked about how God has blessed us since He led us to make the change to house churches. We also shared the trials, frustrations and problems during that time and we then discussed how to deal with some of those problems as well as asking for God's wisdom on future plans.

We were all in agreement that we needed to do this once or twice and year and we also needed to have Brasilians fully involved in all of the following retreats.

We had our first mini-spiritual retreat last week here in town. It was too expensive to do something like this out of town and so we made the best of a holiday last Thursday. We had a really good turnout of over 20 Brasilians. It was really good because EVERYONE shared during the day. I was really impressed with the teenagers and their willingness to share in the middle of a room full of adults.
We began at a city botanical garden in the morning.
It's always good to have a former school teacher to write down the things being said.
We ate our lunch.................and then decided, as it started getting colder, to move to Sascha and Jennifer's house for the second half.
We held the same kind of format as we used last year. We all had a time of sharing God's blessings as well as challenges and struggles. We had scheduled a time to discuss ideas for the future of God's family here in Porto Alegre but we had such a good, deep discussion time about blessings and struggles that we ran out of time.

We've had retreats before but they've always tended to take a more "encouraging time together" tone. These are all fine and we've really enjoyed them but I don't believe that God's family grows from just the "warm fuzzy" times together. They are important but the growth doesn't always happen there. I have a Brasilian brother who prays with me every Monday and we have specifically been praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ to begin "digging" with each other. Our team has been specifically praying for that as well. We've asked God to help all of us to leave the superficiality behind and begin to be "real" with one another.

I believe God answered that prayer during our mini spiritual retreat. We lovingly talked about some serious things. The conversations weren't always easy but we definitely felt the Spirit's presence in everything that was said. We realized that there is much work to be done and many people to reach with the love of Christ. If you would like to read more of the specific details of our discussion (i.e. positives and negatives of our house church experience in the past year), click here, our teammates', Sascha and Jennifer's, blog.

I love this photo that was taken after the meeting last week. It really shows the positive spirit that I believe we all felt after our time together.
Please pray for us as we plan on meeting again on May 22 (another holiday) to continue this groundbreaking dialogue. Our prayer is that God will be blessed by everything that happens here.

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