"Constant Growing in Christ" by Elder Alfred Griffith October 9 to 12, 2003 by Jennifer Witteborg
Red, gold, yellow, green leaves and the blue sky all merged to make a wonderful palette that our Creator used to remind us of His wonderful love.
Fifty people from California, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington State, all came and worshipped together. Fellowshipping under the canopy of colors, we talked about God's love and our Christian walk. On both Friday and Sabbath, people went for hikes. Canoes were taken out on the lake, which John Wehrli (VA) says is a REALLY BIG POND!
Pastor Fred Griffith's sermons on "Constant Growing in Christ" were exactly what I, and many others, needed for our souls. He showed us how to use Sanctuary in our prayers to bring us closer to God who is holy and GOOD. Pastor Griffith explained that all our pain, our loneliness, our hurts can ONLY BE comforted by Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Living Water, the Light of the world, the Bread of Life, and our Advocate. He explained that trying to look at the world's way to help get rid of our pain, loneliness, and hurt may temporarily help but usually it just numbs us. Jesus will be right with us through the pain. Our pain may still be with us every day but because Jesus is with us, we'll be able to stand strong and tall. The depth and width of his sermons on God's love and sacrifice is so big that it would take books and books to explain it all.
Francisca Trexler lead the youth group in a study of the Garden of Eden, and how sin started. This was timely as the youth discussed the ways the the Devil still tries to tempt people, especially youth. She encouraged them to stand strong for the Lord.
Pastor David Trexler led a lively Sabbath School lesson. He first said that many of us are thinking to ourselves, "That Jo-nah! What is wrong with him? Why didn't he obey God in the first place?" Pastor David Trexler explained that Nineveh was a city in a country near where Iraq is today that had hurt and killed Jewish people. Jonah may very have had relatives that were hurt/killed/raped by people living in the Nineveh area. Pastor Trexler explained that we must love our enemy. Someone asked if God loved Lucifer, who is now Satan, the Devil. Pastor Trexler answered, "Yes." This sparked a long discussion into the afternoon. Bottom line is that we must love our enemies and spread the Good News to them.
Mike Dobson, coordinator of DEAR, gave a timely presentation on fall colors and how leaves change their colors. He explained that each leaf is like a tiny food factory. The leaf uses sunlight, things in the air, water and a green matter called CHLOROPHYLL. When fall begins, the leaf starts to die. There is less sunlight because the days are shorter. When the leaf begins to die, the leaf no longer makes food. The chlorophyll breaks down and the green color begins to disappear.
Sabbath ended with a sacred celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Afterwards we all headed up to the campfire. Each of us received a candle. Francisca asked us people to think about the retreat, what we've learned and how God is in our lives. She lit her candle and then used her candle to light her husband's candle. He then lit the person's candle next to him, and so it went around the circle.
At one point, half of the people had their candles burning, and half didn't. The fire glowed in the middle, and it was really emotionally touching.
After all the candles were lighted, testimonies were shared. The most memorable for me, was Josiah Kelly's encouragement "that when we go back into the world, and the pressure is on us, we will remember the 50 people that are here now supporting us, and we will remember to be strong! We will come back next year and become stronger still. So don't forget that there are 50 plus people here supporting you when you go back home!"
We ended by lifting our candles to the dark night sky, showing that we want to share the Light of the World to the lost and lonely souls out there.
Pictures were taken, friendships were made, and spiritual growth was made. May we continue to grow constantly in Christ as we continue to do His sacred work. We look forward to the next DEAR at Camp Blue Ridge!
The hosts, Potomac Adventist Deaf Ministries at Silver Spring Church in Maryland and Vienna Church in Virginia, announced shortly before the retreat that this annual event would become known as the Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat (DEAR), which replaces Eastern Deaf Campmeeting.
By deciding on a different approach than other camp meetings, we offer members and friends alike to come for a spirit-filled weekend in the fall.
The next retreat will most likely be held October 28 - 31, 2004 at Camp Blue Ridge. For more DEAR information (and photos!) can be found at: http://www.deafellowship.org/deaf/.
Please pray and save up so that you can join us in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the wonderful fellowship of our sisters and brothers in Christ.