At the recent Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) retreat, held over Family Day weekend at Camp Frenda, attendance was so great that there was not enough room at the inn. Hundreds of students from Ottawa to Windsor filled up the rooms, with even more occupying the lodge’s conference room in sleeping bags. The event was already over-capacity, with 175 registrants, but with more arrivals on Sabbath, numbers swelled to over 200.
For many students, the ACF retreat is the high point of a year of campus ministry activities at secular colleges and universities. Amazingly, according to Youth director, John Scott, more non-Adventists attended than at any prior ACF retreat, invited by their Adventist friends.
The weekend was both a joyful celebration and a time for sombre reflection. Old friends were thrilled to reunite and partake in fun activities like a nature hike on Sabbath, a onesie party on Saturday night, soap-making, painting and getting their caricatures done on the Sunday, and even tubing down the hill.
But a shared love for Jesus was at the centre of the weekend. During Sabbath School, Pastor Richard Roschmann set the tone, telling an engaged audience, “If you think, ‘I’m too busy to spend time with God,’ you’re messed up.” Whether hearing reports from other campus clubs, listening to inspiring messages or engaging in beautiful praise and worship sessions, the theme of learning your faith for yourself, living counter-culturally and sharing God with others was salient.
Main speakers, Jamil and Vanessa Hairston—a young married couple studying at Andrews seminary—gave messages that were relatable, authentic and moving. There was hardly a dry eye as Vanessa tearfully shared the story of her high school friend, Gus, who died unexpectedly following a motorcycle crash. In a presentation titled “Unmet Expectations,” she revealed that many were saved because of Gus’s funeral. Although devastated, she realized that all things work together for the good (i.e., the greater good). We may sometimes question God, but we can trust in His love and sovereignty.
Interestingly, in a Q & A with Conference president, Mansfield Edwards, Sabbath afternoon, Vanessa asked, “What drives you to get out of bed each morning?” His response—1) a sense of inadequacy, 2) the urgency of today. “We must executive as much as we can in the present [because the devil never stops].” Judging from the weekend, it’s clear that ACF also takes these principles to heart.
To learn more about this amazing ministry and how you can offer support, look out for a feature on ACF in the upcoming Highlights magazine.