This is a statement made by Griffin Conant, a DAYFC Campus Life leader, about what he wants each high school student who went on the retreat to know what can happen when someone starts a new relationship with God. The retreat was called “High Altitude,” which was not only used to describe the camp’s elevation, but also what was prayed that each high school student would feel in relation to God’s presence throughout that weekend. And if a student felt close to God and decided to follow Him wholeheartedly, then what they’re known for, or “reputation,” is completely changed as well.
And the trip did just that. It changed kids’ perspectives and allowed them to assess their reputations, or what they were known for by the world around them.
There were 21 students who came—15 girls and 6 boys. Since they had two female and four male leaders, it was better to break off into two groups. For the students, it made the environment safe as it was no matter what religion, ethnicity or LGBTQ+ position they came from, they could still be open and vulnerable with each other.
On the first night, a lot of the students were blown back by music to a God they didn’t know and hadn’t ever tried to connect with. Eun Soo Kim, another DAYFC leader, said that initially most of the kids had false ideas on who Jesus is and tend to blame God for any negative occurrences in their life.
Then on Saturday morning, the message on John 4 emphasized that all people were welcome into God’s arms and were not to be held back by any shame in their life, which is shown by the Samaritan woman’s interaction with Jesus. The leaders then asked their small groups what would it take for God to reject someone? This led to a fruitful discussion and allowed the leaders to point out who God truly was—a loving and caring God who wants ALL to be a part of His family.
The next message was on John 5, where Jesus asked the paralyzed man if he wanted to be healed. This led to the youth understanding that they had to make the decision themselves to follow Jesus. The students who didn’t grow up in the church realized following Jesus meant making the decision to be different than the world around them—to stand out, no matter which background, religion, or ethnicity they came from.
From these truths, many did make that decision to follow or renew their relationship with Jesus. One girl from a local high school has struggled with a tough home life, in which she often has scratches or bruises on her face and is consistently bullied by her sister. And yet she feels safe with Campus Life, and the speaker that weekend gave reassurance that the Lord gives us hope and faith in all things.
Then another young man, who has a different religious background than Christianity, truly committed his life to Christ, even though he will have to work through why the other religion only gives him fear, and yet a life with Christ is full of joy and peace. Both students made remarkable decisions to follow Christ instead of the world around them and yet had to face going back into the world they left behind to go on that retreat.
So, prayer, as well as thanksgiving, would be appreciated for them, as well as the other 12 students, who gave or recommitted their life to Christ that weekend. We cannot say how grateful we are for each of them, and we pray they will stand strong in being different from who they were before the trip and are currently making new reputations.
By: Christie Smith | Communication and Media Specialist