By Haiyu Zheng – Contributing Writer
Seven UMF InterVarsity Christian Fellowship members were refreshed both physically and spiritually after a three-day fall retreat in Toah Nipi Retreat and Training Center in New Hampshire. Including students from 13 other campuses in Northern New England, there were over 100 students attending this fall conference.
For Christians, a retreat is a quintessential time away from daily activities which distract them from going deeper in their faith and spending time getting reacquainted with God. Combined with conferences and activities, it offers people a quiet place to find peace and experience renewal.
The woods outside and the woody décor inside, along with little lights hanging on the wall, created a relaxing atmosphere. In the biggest meeting room of Toah Nipi Hebron, students from different cultural backgrounds converged to worship God in one voice and pray earnestly for each other as a community. Their faith affirmed the beauty of the unity beyond all ethnicity in Christ.
With the theme of “Hope and Healing in a Broken world: Find a way forward,” powerful testimonies and sermons were shared by different speakers, followed by small group discussions and prayer time. The reflection gave students encouragement and inspiration, leaving them with a new perspective in their walk with Christ.
UMF freshman Lillian Hunt found strength and hope in other people’s stories.“It made me feel like more comforted to know that I’m not alone and there are a bunch of people going through what I’m going through,” she said.
Annie Ahn, a sophomore from Colby College noted that the “silent time” with God was another indispensable part of this retreat.
“I really enjoyed the silent time when I spent an hour and a half away from the noise just concentrating on reflecting on God and talking to Him individually.” Taking a sip of coffee, Ahn smiled, the overflowing joy in her heart written all over her face.
Ahn was not the only person who felt reenergized during the silent time. Toah Nipi provides students numerous areas to sit, wander and pray. Scattering in different directions, some students chose to stay in their room reading the Bible, some sat at the picnic table outside praying while enjoying an incredible view of surrounding hills, and some lay on the grass meditating in the pleasant fall weather.
In addition to the spiritual growth, recreation including sports, boating and board games also provided students with chances to make friends across schools and get to know people from their own schools better.
Jake Marcoux, the leader of UMF InterVarsity group, expressed his willingness to include everyone in the group no matter what background they come from.
“We have to relate to people in the group differently, to be intuitive and think about what they are thinking about, such as someone who came from International settings or someone who’s not a believer, ”said Marcoux.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an interdenominational, evangelical Christian campus ministry founded in 1941, working with students and faculty on U.S. college and university campuses. Retreats and mission trips are held all year round.
There will be a Serve-Up trip intended to help with the recovery effort in places that were affected by the hurricane during spring break next year. More information can be found on InterVarsity website at: https://intervarsity.org