HALIFAX, Pa., (BRN) – A crisp, fall weekend welcomed nearly 50 college students from seven different campuses across Pennsylvania/South Jersey to Camp Hebron in Halifax, Pennsylvania, for the annual Baptist Resource Network (BRN) Next Fall Retreat, Nov. 3-5.
From freshmen to seniors, students from all stages of collegiate life were present, representing Penn State University (PSU), PennWest Clarion and California University (Cal U), Lock Haven University (LHU), Delaware Valley (DelVal), Montgomery County Community College (Montco), Arcadia University and Messiah University.
Throughout the weekend, students were challenged with the concept of what it means to be a “bold missionary,” hearing from BRN Next Gen Director Stanley Williams and Clarion University Collegiate Missionary Scott Underhill.
Williams and Underhill spent the weekend digging into Luke 15 and the three parables – The Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son – Jesus uses to urge believers to seek the lost.
“There’s something in Jesus that is the heart of God – Jesus wants to be in fellowship with broken people,” stated Williams during the first night.
He continued, charging students to be on mission right where God has them, “If you’ll choose to be bold missionaries, the whole world might get thirsty because you showed up to class in Jesus’ name.”
Underhill echoed this theme in a later session by encouraging students to live out their faith in Jesus by building intentional relationships.
“If you’re wanting someone to come to Christ, you gotta know who they are [and] not everyone is the same. You need to know who they are [and] you need to understand what is going on in their lives,” said Underhill.
Through breakout groups and down time hiking in the woods, students had time to reflect on these teachings and rest.
“I feel like it was just good to recharge, not only physically, but spiritually,” said Daniel Leslie, a student from Messiah University who came along with friends from Penn State.
He continued: “Spiritually, what I got out of it was just getting reignited to share my faith and reach out to people that I feel like need to be reached out to and praying for those who need support.”
Sheza Bhatti, a student from Montco, echoed Leslie’s thoughts, saying, “The whole reason I was here was because I was just really stuck in the same circle – like work, studies – but coming here and connecting with God, and there’s nothing else around to distract you, it was beautiful…it gave me a lot of peace.”
For many students, this time in the semester is one that is filled with assignments, projects and preparing for finals – it is a time when rest is much needed.
“Honestly, it’s just been an opportunity to unplug – I haven’t had much WiFi or service here, so it’s really helped me to get away from some of that stuff and get off my phone,” said Sydney Murrin, a Cal U student and second-year fall retreat attender.
She continued: “[It’s helped] just be present with people around me and just really focus on deepening relationships.”
The 2023 BRN Next fall retreat wrapped up with a time of worship, followed by a final word from Williams, in which he encouraged students to embrace a high grade ‘yes’ and find Jesus in every situation.
“The bold missionary has an evangelical imagination to look for how Jesus can be found in anything. Have an evangelical orientation to the world…Jesus is in everything.”
The 2024 BRN Next Gen Fall Retreat is anticipated to be held early November.