Alive 2016: A Young Adults Retreat

After many years of praying and envisioning a place where this generation could gather with like-minded individuals, MCYA had its first ever young adults retreat in Olympia, WA on MLK weekend. Gathered were young and old, new and old faces from as far north as Alaska, all the way down the west coast to Visalia. The weekend allowed for plenty of time for rest and play, worship, and encouragement, as well as time for attendees to slow down and meet with God.

Pastor Coby was our speaker for the weekend. He did a remarkable job leading us to listen, reflect and share with one another what the Holy Spirit was revealing.

Session 1: When sin came into this world, it destroyed theunion between God and man. However, through the deathand resurrection of Christ, our relationship is repaired. We are meant to do life together, in community.

Session 2: We are blessed to be a blessing. We are to be salt & light of the earth. That following God takes big risk. That His promises are true and may not look the way we expect it. On the same day, we had an opportunity to reflect on past and current events, whether good or bad, that have shaped our story as we know it today. What a wonderful reminder that our stories do matter.

Session 3: Hope’s name is Jesus. No matter where we go, how hard it may seem, there is hope in the darkness. The same God that hovered over the earth when it was shapeless, formless, and void is the same God who is here today.

Session 4: At the table of God, there is a seat for ALL. To be a Christian is to be on missions. He allows us the privilege to be part of it, to join in. We are called to make disciples as we are going.

On Sunday morning, we were also privileged to partake in a panel discussion. Through their honesty, transparency, and vulnerabilities, individuals heard how God has been working in and through their lives and how they are being made ALIVE in Christ.

Even when raining, Black Lake Bible Camp provided great opportunities for individuals to bask in the beauty of God’s creation. That meant taking solo or group walks around the site, to having 1-on-1 time with different leaders, skipping rocks at the lake, or opportunities for great photos.

During the weekend, individuals engaged in creative worship and prayer as they rested and slowed down. Prayer stations were provided such as: reading and meditating on scripture, meditating on God’s love for us, examining our idols and repenting of them, confessing of our sins, and praying for our nation.

What an astonishing and refreshing weekend we had together. What overwhelming joy it brought to our hearts to hear the young adults singing from the depths of their hearts, yearning for more of God. To be fully engulfed in His presence, drowning out any distractions that would hinder them. Their cries echoed so loudly throughout the room. Intentional communities were formed as individuals were vulnerable in sharing their fears, questions, desires, and hopes with others. What a wonderful glimpse of what God is doing with this generation of young adults.

As each individual’s story unfolds, we can’t wait to witness all the things that God has moved them to do and how they will be a part of what God is already doing in their communities. Each person’s story will be different and unique. There is no cookie cutter way of how God will use these young adults and future generation.

Please continue to pray with us.

Blessings,

The MCYA Team

Windshields, Wipers, and Wonders

Several months ago, we found ourselves in the parking lot of an unfamiliar church building. We recently moved to a new city north of Seattle called Shoreline. It was sometime in February with gray clouds and a slight drizzling, the annoying kind that didn’t match the swipe frequency of our car’s windshield wipers. The wipers were either too quick and scraping at a dry windshield, or too slow and forcing me to manually activate the wipers because I couldn’t see.

Comparing my life now to the philosophical musings of windshield wipers, I’d have to say that at that point in our lives I felt like our wipers were moving too slow. Life’s drizzling rain was hitting us far quicker than we felt like we could handle. It often felt like all we could see was the blurred windshield in front of us, and all we could do was wait for the quick swish of momentary clearing, only to have it clouded again.

When we were taught to drive, we were told to focus on the road ahead. While this is true for driving, this same concept can also be mistranslated into our real lives. Yes, there are times when we do need to continue to look ahead, but there are other times when looking ahead robs us of experiencing what’s in front of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us this: For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. It is a truthful quote about God but also an oft-misquoted verse used to encourage many believers in times of discouragement, sadness, and confusion. I’m not arguing against its validity or the many times it spoke to believers. I am arguing against the interpretation that tells the believer the sadness and heartache you’re going through somehow doesn’t matter because God has a plan for you. This interpretation tells us to cheer up. Pick up those bootstraps and keep going. Keep smiling because God is good.

Okay Mr. Smiley McSmiley Face. While some of those above statements are true (like God is good) the message it sends is false.

Your experience matters. Your sadness matters. Your pain matters. Your joy matters. Your struggles matter. Because you matter to God, it all matters.

I don’t mean that we over-spiritualize every experience and interpret the leaf falling in our lap as God speaking to us, but that we don’t gloss over the tough times with the goodness-of-God-glaze. If we do so, we risk missing out on God speaking to us in those moments, seasons, and funks. God speaks to us not only through the joys but also through the pains. He yearns for us and loves us in every season of life. We may need to sit silently and crane our necks to hear Him.

I admit that’s not something I’m all too good at.

In one of those rare date nights when Abbie goes to bed early, Megan and I got the chance to watch John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, in my words a story of pain, love, hope, and reality. This quote from the movie has both blessed and haunted me since hearing it:

“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”

How often in my life have I wrote off my feelings, put a smile on my face, and soldiered on? What is the purpose of pain in our life and why is it important? Why is it dangerous to not acknowledge pain? Not feel it? Where is God in all of this? How often do I wish the wipers in my life would wipe away my deep stirrings and questions, not asking who was stirring the pot or why it was being stirred?

If you didn’t get it, these are all rhetorical questions. I don’t have the answers, but I’m learning to realize that it’s okay to not know them. We continue to have faith in a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, and for that reason, we continue on. It’s not our jobs to pretend to be all-knowing and all-powerful.
It is our jobs to love God and to love others.

Please remember this. Your experience matters. Your sadness matters. Your pain matters. Your joy matters. Your struggles matter. Because you matter to God, it all matters.

So even if our windshield wipers don’t clear the rain fast enough, I’m learning that it’s okay. Although the windshield and the rain are only a part of the journey, they matter because through it, we see how to journey. And although those mishaps, struggles, and stirrings are only a part of our journey, they matter because they teach us how to journey.

MCYA Youth Camp 2014 Newsletter

Trying to write this overview of MCYA’s summer youth camp is a lot harder than I imagined it to be. I mean, all I really need to say are things like, “awesome time swimming… love the archery… great seeing and meeting new friends…” and “the grandiose works of God!” I struggle to describe youth camp, life, and God with words because as I reflect, the very things that impacted me most and those things I can actually remember are more so images, feelings, and experiences! Not words! What creeps in is that distant, yet ever so present memory from one of my philosophy professors: “If you can’t put it on paper, then it doesn’t count.” Fine!

Our camp theme this year was “Selfie.” Simple enough, the word points to a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. Without getting all-profound and stuff, Selfie points to a deeper narcissistic self-absorbed idea. It’s like how we take selfies, and then delete them until we get to the one that we really want for the world to see. Let’s say we were to take a selfie of our soul. The difference is no matter how many times we do a retake of it, it’ll always look the same because that’s the true reflection of who we really are. How do we change ‘who we are’ if we don’t like it? We work on it by allowing God to come in and to show us what’s got. to. go.

Our speaker this year was Pastor Kristoffer Ramos. Pastor Kris loves life. Pastor Kris loves people. And, Pastor Kris loves God more than even his most favorite hobby… rock-climbing. God used him mightily to teach through 3 evening messages:

  • 1. The Gospel. A challenge if we truly do understand the Gospel that we claim to believe in. Scriptural references: Luke 15:1-7; 18:9-14, and 1 Cor 15:1-2
  • 2. Irreverent Silly Myths. Too often as Christian, we don’t really adhere the biblical concept of Christianity and instead, we cater to what is most popular in our current Christian Sub-Culture. Scriptural reference: 1 Timothy 4:1-16
  • 3. Conformed or Transformed? In understanding what the Gospel truly is and what are “irreverent silly myths” vs. what is biblical… the question is, now what? Am I really transformed by the Holy Spirit? Do I really have a “Regenerated Heart” or am I just conforming to the patterns of this world? Scriptural reference: Romans 12:1-2, Jeremiah 17:9

We turn Pastor Kris’ evening messages into in-depth practical learning in the mornings by implementing discussion and sharing times within and amongst campers and their cabin-mates. TJ Saelee (Mr. MC!) led our High School group and Yowty (Antelope) facilitated our Middle Schoolers. These two young men were true vessels in allowing God to speak through them. Pastor Kris taught our Young Adults Program, giving them direction in biblical living.

Ryan Lapid led our praise and worship team with such heart and love that those who were a part of the band left the entire experience refreshed and revitalized. Alan drum’d (Davis), Thim bass’d (Antelope), Joseph press’d keys (YMABC), and those who sang were DK Daniel (also lead our competition games!), Sirena (Visalia), and Faam (Seattle). Thanks, guys.

Our counseling team went through a completely revamped counseling training program led by Perry and Audrey Sakai that revolutionized our understanding of discipleship. Karen and Clara did a splendid job organizing and putting together the team. Lastly, many rededicated their lives to return back living for God.

From our decision cards, we have 2 who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior with a total of 9 who got baptized. Praise the Lord!

His Best,

Michael Chao

Ministry Director

 

PS- Special shout-out to Evannie and her assistant, Tyler (Portland), for running our sound booth and Melonie for making sure no one drowned in the swimming pool… and during baptism.

 

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