Fall Retreat—you’ve heard announcements about it on Sunday evenings, and you’ve given it a quick thought. But why should you go? Great question, friend. It’s the same one I asked myself last year as a first-year.
Fall Retreat is a weekend in September full of time with God and time with friends. It’s a perfect place to go out of your comfort zone through fun games, amazing worship, thought-provoking messages, and deep talks with roommates. It’s a safe space to meet new people, form friendships, explore the gospel, and take your faith to the next level.
Last year, as I signed up for Fall Retreat 2017, I had some expectations. I thought that this would be some church camp-type thing where we would be forced to play games and be social. I thought that this would be an exhausting time of working to meet people and form friendships. I thought that it would be one weekend of lots of fun and maybe a little bit of Jesus. I didn’t expect to be challenged, to be changed. However, many of my expectations were disproved. I met so many nice and welcoming people who invested in me and showed me Jesus’ love. I was drawn in by the contagious and electric worship. I was captivated by the convicting messages. I was challenged by the gospel.
I had only been attending Mercy Hill Church for a little less than a month but had gotten plugged in super quickly. My friend had known someone on the College Staff that invited us both to try out MH. I was quite hesitant to go to church because I had a falling out with my home church a year or two before. However, I attended, met some cool people, and joined a Community Group. I was into Mercy Hill for the amazing worship and people. I was there to make friends, which I was starting to do. Then, my group leader pushed me to attend Fall Retreat! I was on board right away. What a great way to make friends, right?
I arranged to carpool with a girl from my group, made a road trip playlist, packed a bag, and grabbed my Bible. Off to Black Mountain we went! I was extremely nervous during the first twenty minutes of the ride, but soon we were off to a great conversation in which we discussed our pasts and so much more. The long car ride only seemed to last minutes as we sang along to the radio.
We arrived at Ridgecrest brimming with excitement. Check-in was a breeze; we received room keys, t-shirts, and meal passes. Walking to our rooms, we were directed to a building by smiling faces. I introduced myself to the girls sharing my room and we headed to the first service. There, we worshipped through song, played introduction games, and sat to listen to a message from the speaker.
Saturday morning, I awoke quickly—eager to get the day started. I was struck with wonder as the gospel was preached to me. What do you mean Jesus loves me? I thought God was one of those angry gods—doesn’t he hate me because of my sin? Questions began to pile up in my head. I pushed them aside as the free day began. We all had options on how to spend our Saturday afternoons. I was invited to go to downtown Asheville by a friend. I met so many new friends, did a little shopping, and laughed A LOT—What a great day! Saturday concluded with a service and worship.
Sunday morning, I needed to talk to someone. I pulled one of my group leaders aside. She led me through the gospel and answered all my questions with Scripture and God-given wisdom. I understood. I believed. I went throughout the day constantly thinking through who this Jesus guy was and what I was told of him, his life, his love. At the last service, I sang like never before, worshipping the God that loves me.
Fall Retreat was the kickstart of my love and walk with Christ. I can honestly say that had I not gone, I have no idea where my faith would be right now. God led me there to show me my sins and helplessness but more importantly his love and grace.
If you’re hesitant about going, I encourage you to go! You never know what God can do in one weekend!
-Tiffany Green, MH College Student