By Benjamin Lundquist
Last week young adults from around the Oregon Conference (OC) gathered at Big Lake Youth Camp for the annual Young Adult Fall Retreat. Some were returning having attended in years past, while many came for the first time, all hoping to connect to the larger young adult community, recharge in the beautiful outdoors, and grow deeper with Jesus. The theme for the weekend was “transparent”, and the shared messages over the weekend challenged everyone to pursue transparency in their relationship with Jesus, their community, and in their leadership. As the weekend began on Friday night, we surrendered our time together to Jesus asking Him to show up and challenge us all. He did just that.
After singing together in the Big Lake staff lounge on Friday night I shared a message challenging attendees to pursue a transparent relationship with Jesus, recognizing that He can handle all of life’s greatest difficulties. The night ended with a bonfire overlooking the lake. On Sabbath morning, Pastor Greg Phillips, from the Pleasant Valley Church, shared a powerful message on living transparently within your own community. Greg shared a personal story of how his community ministered and supported him and his family during one of their most difficult life chapters. Sabbath evening ended with a message by OC youth director, Les Zollbrecht, who leads a huge team of young adults at Big Lake Youth Camp each summer. Les spoke about being a transparent leader by taking responsibility, giving credit to others, and glorifying Jesus every step of the way.
The weather over the weekend was perfect for exploring the outdoors, and our young adult group took full advantage. Together we explored Skylight Cave and hiked along the McKenzie River to Sahalie Falls. Sahalie Falls is a mass of foaming white water plunging 100 feet over a natural lava dam. (This famous waterfall can be spotted in the Disney movie Homeward Bound.) Andre Chavez, a Portland physical therapist and retreat attendee, commented, “This place is absolutely beautiful, just what I needed this weekend.”
The weekend ended on Sunday morning with a hope-filled visioning session as we looked at where young adult ministry in the Oregon Conference has been and where God wants to take it in the years to come. This was a very honest conversation and I much appreciated the comments and input shared by attendees as we look to love young adults better in the Oregon Conference. Jesus showed up as we asked him to – this was evident in the amount of bonding, honest conversation, and encouragement experienced at our retreat. Ben Lacy, a young adult who recently moved to the Oregon Conference and is working for Adventist Health, shared, “What we need are more and more opportunities just like this to build community centered on Jesus.” I’m thankful for all who attended, and I’m looking forward to supporting our growing young adult community in the Oregon Conference.