Post by Mike Fitzpatrick, Student Ministries

I love the scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis where Lucy is trying to discern what type of character Aslan is, and she asks Mr. Beaver if he is safe. Mr. Beaver’s response is so beautiful:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

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What makes this particular scene stand out is how well it captures not only the character of God, but also the difficulty we have when we attempt to put God in a box.

Over New Year’s weekend, around 100 high school and middle school students and leaders joined students and leaders from three other churches for BreakThru, an annual retreat at the Timber Creek Camp in Pulaski, MS. During this three-night retreat, our students were encouraged to expand their beliefs Outside the Box: to see that God is Bigger, Grace is Deeper, and Love is Stronger. Through large group sessions with Ty and the BreakThru Band and speaker Will Rambo and small group discussions, students were able to explore how constricted their views of these concepts may be and discuss how they can expand them to have a greater impact in their lives and in the world around them. Besides that, they participated in seminars and Bible studies to further increase their knowledge of God and themselves. There was a great deal of information for them to soak in and allow to transform their lives.

But it wasn’t just about serious discussion. There was plenty of fun to be had. From black light human foosball to the obstacle course to octoball, the students had no shortage of fun during the day. Then at night, things got ramped up. Huge inflatables, late night fireworks, Don’t Forget The Lyrics, and a crazy New Year’s Eve party all contributed to a super fun environment, certain to provide memories for years to come. Here is what one of our seniors, Aubrey Guyton, had to say about her BreakThru experience:

This year I arrived at BreakThru for my fourth and last one as a student. Four years ago, my mom forced me to go on the retreat, and I have been excited to come back every year since that first trip. Every year I come back from BreakThru stronger in my relationship with God and my small group. Before the trip this year, I had started to distance myself from people in my community because I started to put up barriers. At BreakThru I learned that I was putting up boxes and I needed to start working on taking them down. While I was at BreakThru I was reading The Irresistible Revolution, which showed me the importance of being part of a community. I realized that I need to start taking down the barriers that have started to separate me from different communities because humans need to be part of a community. The book I am reading showed me how Adam was not successful by himself until Eve came along. This story shows that we need community. God created Eve so that Adam and Eve could be together to create a community. The last night my small group sat on our porch and we talked about what we struggle with most. We sat there talking and crying while looking at the stars. That night we did not realize it but we broke down some boxes in order to grow in our relationship with each other. I am so glad that I have been able to end and start the years surrounded by Christians with a desire to grow more in our faith.

One of the highlights for me as a leader happened on Sunday afternoon. Instead of having our high school students go to a second day of seminars, like we normally do, we partnered with Stop Hunger Now for a food-packing event. During that one hour, our students helped to pack over 10,000 meals! So not only did our students think Outside the Box, they filled lots of boxes to help change the world. It’s so encouraging to see teenagers be the hands and feet of Jesus!

BreakThru 2017 was a truly great way to close out 2016 and to ring in the New Year!

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