Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Jesus Youth Retreat in Tampa, FL

May 28th - Jun 1st

Location: The Franciscan center

Located in what seems like a mini Kerala and in a tranquil, somewhat isolated environment is The Franciscan center. This was an excellent site for the retreat as to the fact that everyone attending the retreat could escape from the daily stresses of everyday life and troubles and come to a "home away from home". That is really what is felt like it for many people because there were many parent volunteers and people constantly making us feel comfortable. The rooms were very cozy and hospitable. Now the retreat:....there is so much to be said. It was very touching and life-changing to see God's mighty presence in each and every one of the retreat participants by the last day of the retreat. If you ask anyone attending the retreat they will tell you what an amazing transformation they saw in the youth. In the beginning it was a drastically different story and none of us were united as the children of God but rather a varied group of children with different beliefs and goals for the retreat. It is true to say that a significant percentage was forced by their parents to participate. All of these parents wanted to see a common goal and that goal being: to become closer to God and to open up their hearts to living a satisfied Christian life rather than falling prey to the clutches of western culture and becoming involved in evil acts such as drinking, drugs and even promiscuity. These parents love their children too much to let them go down a downwards spiral so they bought them to a retreat for a spiritual renewal. Once at the retreat various sessions by some Jesus Youth leaders and Father Karickal allowed for the participants to examine their own life and see if God was a part of it. For many, the Lord Jesus was not number 1 on their list but I guarantee you, by the end of the retreat and GOD was the most important part of these children's lives. Biju chettan played very inspiring music and we were all very involved in numerous action songs and the skits. Adoration was very powerful and the Holy Spirit shook down the 'shell' of many and they surrendered themselves to the Merciful and compassionate Lord Jesus. Many confessed all their sins and vowed to start a new, fresh life as a servant of Christ. The retreat allowed for many friendships to be born and the most important relationship of all was formed in those with changed hearts and that is with the LORD. Praise you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, We worship you Lord Jesus. You are ever so loving and you died for our sins, now let us serve you O' Lord because without you we are nothing. We love and we adore you.

By Hima Pius (19 yrs old, Gainesville, FL)

Here are some experiences that people shared of the retreat:

"After two hours of kneeling I felt like I got the Holy Spirit inside of me. We were able to do that not a lot of people could do: kneel for two hours. When I first came, I thought we were just going to pray all day long. I guess I was proven wrong. I had a lot of fun here. Prayer and play time playing football and everything."

Jibin John

" I was thinking like other retreats its going to be boring and I didn’t really wanted to come, but I have to say personally I experienced a really good feeling, like every day it got better and better and I think we all just kind of felt a little bit of God in our life and it was a good feeling. And I had a really good time. "
Sena Kunangara

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