This year's October youth retreat in the heart of Glenshee offered the perfect place to escape from the bustle of Scotland's cities, and tune in to God's word. Young people from churches all over the Scottish Mission gathered together to worship, study and fellowship with one another, building new friendships and exploring the theme for the weekend: That Ain't God.
Our speaker, Marjukka Ostrovljanovic joined us all the way from Germany where she currently works as a youth pastor. She opened the retreat with her powerful testimony of coming out of a life of addiction and discovering God’s love for her, and a passion for sharing that love with others. An atmosphere of stillness and contemplation was evident as we were prompted to reflect on God’s mission to reach each one of us as our personal “superhero”. One young person commented that “it was a great reminder that even if we move so far from God, he yearns for us and will do so much to bring us back to Him.”
Sabbath morning began with small group discussions based around names for God in the Old Testament. We explored how we can see His many attributes manifest in our lives, from spiritual and physical healing to granting us peace in times of turbulence. Through her next couple of messages, Pastor Marjukka went on to expand on “what God is really like” by inviting us all to think about whether God’s character is currently being presented in our churches and our behaviour. A mostly clear afternoon also offered the opportunity to get involved in some wonderful outdoor activities, from team building challenges to picturesque walks through the Glen.
Throughout the weekend, youth from each church presented a “Mission Spotlight”, allowing us to discover more about the ministries and activities that they have been engaging with throughout this past year. Seeing the impact of different forms of outreach, from Global Youth Day projects to regular activities held in local communities was inspiring, and demonstrated that God is using our diverse talents to further His work. In addition, the music team headed by Lisa and Igor introduced some beautiful new songs whilst facilitating an atmosphere of sincere and genuine worship over the 3 days. Some highlights from the retreat mentioned by youth were “spending time with like-minded people”, “getting to know youth from other churches better” and “very relatable and inspiring sermons”.
Finally, special thanks must be extended to those without whom the retreat would not be possible. Thank you to all the youth leaders who helped with the planning and delivery of the retreat programme; to Pastor Claudiu who worked hard to secure a great venue and ensure everything ran smoothly; to Clive Birch and his catering team who provided excellent meals throughout the whole weekend; and to all those who supported the event by attending and participating. We hope everyone was truly blessed by the experience, and plan to organise even more successful events in the coming year.