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Encouragement & Renewal Experienced at Pastors Prayer Retreat

Encouragement & Renewal Experienced at Pastors Prayer Retreat

It was late November on the Oregon Coast. Twenty-five people—comprised of pastors and their spouses—gathered for a few days of voluntary spiritual retreat. Taking time away from ministry, they arrived anticipating God's blessings, encouragement, and presence.

As Adventists, we know well the concept that "God alone has immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). God is the infinite one; therefore, we are finite. We have limitations—only so much time, energy, and ability. Due to our limited capacity, we need to take breaks, embrace seasons of solitude, retreat from our busyness, and most importantly—pray. As spiritual leaders, pastors especially need intentional time to connect with the infinite one. For as Jesus says to His disciples, "apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Even Jesus, as our example, took breaks from ministry to pray (Luke 5:16).

This year, as pastors came together for the annual Pastors Prayer Retreat at Cannon Beach, the theme was "Facing the Giants." Pastor Rick Jordan, Oregon Conference ministerial director, facilitated daily Bible studies on the few showdowns with giants in scripture. Deep study and discussion of these stories produced inspiration, encouragement, and personal revival among the pastors present. The studies took place in the context of the entire group itself, and in smaller group discussions in the varied gathering areas of the retreat center.

The highlight for all was the traditional "day alone with God." Except for breakfast and dinner, individuals had the entire day set aside for pursuing God in their own way. Along with many in attendance, Jim and Darla John spent a large portion of the day journaling through scripture. Some spent much of the day reading. Some napped! Others went on walks (or drives) up the coast. Some went exploring in the woods and coastline, finding waterfalls and wildlife. Pastor Vio Rosca said that this time was so valuable, "not only to be alone with your own thoughts, but especially with God. It does help to quiet down." Participants found that breaking the routine of ministry with intentional time to commune with God brought them refreshment and encouragement.

The "day alone with God" then culminated with a time of communion. Heartfelt singing accompanied by testimonies of the day and of God's goodness set the tone for taking the Lord's Supper." To reflect on the gospel—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—brought an atmosphere of deep gratitude as people confessed of God's goodness and love. After consuming the bread and juice in remembrance, the group lifted their voices in song by singing Christmas songs, ushering in the season.

The final morning of the retreat brought further reflection, singing, study, and prayer. Yet this final morning was a time of special intercessory prayer and encouragement, with many moments accompanied by the laying on of hands. It should also be noted that many eyes in the room had a marked lack of dryness as prayer and comments brought about a sense of God's goodness, faithfulness, and love. Not only was this a time of connection with God, but a time of connecting with one another. As Pastor Les Jones said, "the most significant thing has been building relationships with God's people. When we get together here to study, pray together, visit and get to know one another, love develops in a meaningful way."

Pastors left this year's prayer retreat inspired with a sense of much-needed gratitude and renewal, and a newfound resolve to trust and abide in Jesus. Please encourage your pastor to attend this retreat next Fall!

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