This past weekend the students from Ignite Monmouth attended an Encounter Retreat in the hopes of encountering God. There were speaking sessions focused on the fact that God is enough for our lives. There was a prayer workshop to train students how to pray publicly. There were nights full of all-out worship that left us with sore throats the next morning. And there were encounters with God.
Normally on these retreats, students experience God in several ways. They might feel His presence during worship, and find the strength to raise their hands to the heavens. Others might experience the power of God through the communal prayer they experience. Still more might hear the gentle whispers of God during the time of silence on Saturday. But this time, God manifested in a new way.
On this retreat, God made Himself known through us. Students began to open up about past hurts and addictions, and when they did, their chains were broken. Students who had been dealing with depression suddenly found themselves with a renewed desire for Christ. Others who had been stuck in addictions for months found support amongst friends. Even more found that with the support of the group, the chains that bound them to past pains were broken, and forgiveness was able to rush in. Truly this was how God appeared this weekend.
For Jesus told us that, “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” That was never truer than on this retreat. For where Jesus is, there is healing for the hurting, and forgiveness finally became a possibility for many. When Jesus shows up, there is freedom for the captives, and addictions that have plagued some for years suddenly paled in comparison to the freedom that Christ offers. In the presence of Jesus, there is strength for the weak, and students who were on the brink of giving up found themselves clinging to God for hope.
If you keep your struggles, your sins, and your pains to yourself, you will never find peace. If you keep those things in the dark, they will grow. But if you can find a support system to open up to, you can shed light on the once dark places and begin to heal. For where two or three gather in the name of Christ, He will bring healing. Do not keep your pain a secret any longer, for the path to freedom begins by opening up to others.