January 2012 - Vol. 56.

Say “Yes” to God 
sharings from young people who attended a YES retreat in Ireland

God's gracious invitation to young people
by Phil Morrison 
The YES Retreat brought together 50 young people from all over Europe. This first gathering of 14-16 year-olds in the European region of Sword of the Spirit was a milestone, as our young people responded in deeper ways to following Christ – to saying “Yes.” Youth came from various cities (London, Dublin, Glasgow, Belfast, Leuven) to Rostrevor, Northern Ireland. The purpose of the weekend was to encourage the young people to say a wholehearted “Yes” to following Christ, not to simply lean on the faith of their parents, or their friends, but to take on and deepen a personal faith. This was done through small groups, games, a prayer meeting, talks, entertainment, testimonies and meals. 

Because this was the first YES Retreat, most of us really didn’t know what to expect, including myself. It became very apparent that my expectations of how God was going to use this weekend were greatly surpassed by God’s. 

God delights in using anyone who says “Yes” to him. He has no age restriction. The more and more I spend doing youth work, the more God teaches me that he uses people of all ages to advance his kingdom. Just as God used Joshua, David, Esther, Ruth, Gideon, and Samson …. he calls and equips those today who are available, those who say “Yes”. This is what happened on the YES Retreat. Many of the youth were freely responding to the call to follow Jesus Christ. 

Serving at the YES Retreat was a privilege and a humbling experience, to stand beside my younger brothers and sisters and say Yes to the Lord. I will remember this weekend as one where God powerfully acted and took deeper root in many of the young people’s lives (and my own!), and I am already greatly anticipating the next YES Retreat!
Phil Morrison is a Kairos mission leader and youth leader for YouthLink in London, UK. He is originally from Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

Making Big Decisions for God
by Stephen Bick
“I lay a choice before you, before the youth of the Sword of the Spirit and the multitude who will join you, and I ask you to say ‘YES.’ Say ‘Yes.’” 
  – a prophetic word given at a 
Sword of the Spirit Youth Conference in 2008
Despite preparing and recording every relevant prophetic word as part of prep for serving on the first ever YES retreat in October of this year, I wasn't really expecting much to happen. A fun weekend in another country, see some old friends, try my hand at youth work, etc. Not only could I not have been more wrong, I was deeply filled with hope by the weekend and the generation I see emerging from it.

These kids are making big decisions for God, stuff I hadn't dreamt of doing at their age. They are full of the Holy Spirit and power and maturity and wisdom beyond their years. Watching words you halfheartedly typed into your computer a week previously become true before your eyes is an exciting and humbling experience. I often have a spiritual high after these events. It's a cyclic thing in my spiritual life: you go to a big Sword of the Spirit event and feel great, go home and gradually get back into your old way of doing things, and just as you are despairing another conference comes along. 

a skit from the Saturday evening entertainment event

This was different – it hit me at a much deeper level and really gave me a core of faith and wonder at God and what he's doing now in plain sight among us!

Being on the giving rather than receiving end of youth work is strange and wonderful. You are suddenly a role model, a leader, an adult (I had only been 18 for a month before the YES retreat). These really stretching experiences are vital for me and people my age to have, so please don't just send your youth to these things, send your university-aged people so they can learn how to lead. I just had a blast, leading a small group, prayer ministry, being a ”mentor,” and no one complained or was damaged by anything I did, which is always a plus.

Most importantly, the weekend showed me how wrong my expectations are about anything God does. He's always on another level, working behind the scenes, and occasionally I see a tiny, tiny part of the whole picture and just stand with my mouth open, even if the rest of the time I have to trust that something is going on. Good thing for us that we have such a loving God, and that he is so active today. I am filled with hope.
Stephen Bick is a Kairos team worker and member of Koinonia, a university student outreach in London, UK.  

Some retreat highlights

Making friends for life
by Hannah Sewell 
(age 15, Antioch Community, London, UK)

When I heard about the YES retreat I didn't really expect much. My parents had told me there was going to be a youth conference in Ireland, and some of my friends were going so I thought why not?! However I didn't really know anyone else apart from my friends at Antioch. One of my other friends had been to the Dublin football tournament and running up to the yes retreat she couldn't wait to see all of her friends again. However I hadn’t been to the Dublin football tournament and I pretty much didn't know anyone. I would sit with my friend and try to learn the names of these people I had never met.

When we got there I kind of stood awkwardly in the corner and headed up to my dorm room to put my bags away. When I saw the names on my dorm door my heart dropped. Two of the Dublin girls whom I had never met before were in my dorm, and they had already claimed their beds, which left me with a little camp bed by itself in the corner. I assumed that they would leave me alone and just talk to each other without including me. How wrong was I! When I headed back down to the main room, people would just come up and introduce themselves, and quickly I had this overwhelming feeling of acceptance. We got into our new sharing groups, and soon after everyone was treating each other like brothers and sisters which in a way we were. 

The next day was crazy! In the morning we were split into girls and boys and each group received a talk. The girls’ talk was about courage, and it was amazing to hear about the situations that some of the leaders had experienced. Then we were put in teams for the wide game. Now by this time it had started raining. Heavily. And it was freezing cold. I assumed being a Christian retreat and all they would let us stay inside the warm cozy center and they would postpone the game until the weather was better. I was mistaken. My team bonded by huddling under a tree for warmth. 

Later on in the day we had a Lord’s Day celebration. Now, being a “community kid” and someone who’s grown up in community hearing these words repeatedly again and again, you get to learn them off by heart. At the Lord’s Day celebration it was so amazing to look around the room and see that no-one really needed the pamphlet and that we all knew the words off by heart. Again when we worshipped everyone knew the songs because we’ve grown up hearing them and listening to our parents singing them. Being at the YES retreat gave me a real feeling of community and what the Sword of the Spirit is all about. I went there not knowing anyone and I went home knowing I’ve made friends for life, and I can’t wait to see them again!

God surprised me
by Michael Potter 
(age 16, Antioch Community, London, UK)

I went on the YES retreat in Ireland during the October half term, and in the run-up to it, I had really been coasting in my faith. I had convinced myself that I was in a good place with God, and that it was alright to stay there. But God really had some surprises in store for me. The first evening was a bit of a blur because the London contingent arrived quite late on the Friday evening. So after a quick worship time, we met our sharing groups and were then bundled off to bed. 

My first clear memory of the weekend was being woken up on the Saturday morning by the leaders, one of whom had a very loud bell. But the rest of the day proved to be very good. During the day we split up into guys and girls and were given separate talks. The men’s talk was on courage and making war on the devil, which was very enlightening because it dispelled the illusion that as Christians we have to always be meek and mild, but we can be strong men too. The talks were accompanied by some very powerful sharings. 

That evening, Dave Quintana gave a talk on saying “Yes” to the Lord and to taking a step forward in your faith. This was followed by a time of worship and prayer ministry, in which I reluctantly got some prayer, and I’m glad I did. God really spoke to me and many others that evening in new and powerful ways. 

The whole weekend was a fantastic experience for me. Seeing God at work through prayer and prophecy, as well as seeing the other young people there were both hugely encouraging for me and really gave me hope for this generation. 

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