Ministerial Retreat Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2019
By Phil and Lydia Hamm
Every other year EMC ministers and deacons are treated to a retreat for spiritual, emotional, and social renewal. This is a great time to spend time connecting with new leaders, gaining wisdom from those who have been in ministry for a long time and getting the pulse of the conference. We get to know other leaders in new ways as we share our life experiences in a retreat setting.
The retreat was held at Wilderness Edge in Pinawa, Man., from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, 2019. For the past several times, Scott and Debbie Dyck have worked hard at hosting and organizing the retreat with others helping. John Reimer chaired the sessions and Mike and Alysia Thiessen led the times of worship with accompaniment by Glenda Friesen on the keyboard, Travis Unger on the cajon. Worship restores our spirit and we had great times for singing in praise and adoration.
Within each of the four group sessions, an individual shared their inner life and how they feed and sustained their spiritual walk.
Lorna Penner shared a simple but profound process for maintaining her spiritual growth: “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” This is not just a legalistic, “have too law” but a “want to.” More than just reading Scripture daily is the need to memorize and meditate. Other ways Lorna found were helpful in her spiritual journey were to read devotional books and pray with her husband Gord.
Elmer Barkman shared his struggles with obedience. The toughest part of going out in faith to Venezuela was doing what others thought was crazy. God spoke to him through Joshua, “Have I not commanded you, be of good courage.” Although losing his first wife Tina was difficult, he found God has given him new joy as he serves Him with his new wife Doris.
Doris Barkman shared that she had prepared to do medical work and wanted to serve the Lord with that skill set, yet never mailed a letter to offer her services on the mission field. When there was a medical need after an earthquake, she went to help and spend nine years there. Stormy times often gives us the greatest light. It was tough to transition, but she did end up going to Paraguay and spent 21 years serving there. Every transition begins with an ending. As ambassadors it is not so much location, but willingness that is important to God. After coming home, she left her singleness behind and has enjoyed a new life with her husband Elmer.
Jae Woong grew up in Korea and recognized that the nature he enjoyed did not come into being by chance. At age 11 he read the Bible and found the creator God. In his 20s he went through a desert: every joint in his body was attacked by rheumatoid arthritis. Medication helped, yet Jae sensed that God would do a miracle for him. He prayed and asked the question, “Do you trust the medicine more than I trust God?” Jae felt more dependent on a pill than God so he stopped taking pills and God healed him completely. Looking back this desert was a treasure.
In faith he came to Canada to further his schooling in Saskatoon. He received a calling to come and serve at The ConneXion (Arborg, Man.). Reading
Scripture is like eating food. We don’t always feel hungry, yet we read Scripture to nourish our soul.
Developing Our Inner Life
Jacob and Arlene Friesen, from Morrow Gospel Church (EMMC) in Winnipeg, led us in sessions to develop our inner life. In our busy leadership activities we need to rebuild the inner life so that we can minister with the overflow of God’s presence in our lives. In four sessions they focused on an introduction, starting the day with Jesus, finishing the day with Jesus, and staying with Jesus through the day.
When we fall apart, what will matter is the kind of soul you have to take you through the hard times. We need a healthy soul to have an integrated life so we need to pay attention to our inner being, our soul. The soul keeps harmony and integration in our life. A healthy soul is an integrated life so we need to pay attention to our soul.
Starting the day with God helps to declutter our mind and focus on our relationships—especially with God. Arlene suggested that we need times of solitude with a God that calls us beloved so we see clearly. Distortion drives depression. God frees us, not pressures us. We need time to meditate and contemplate. Listen quietly to God as you begin your day and throughout the day.
Jacob shared how to end our day well. End your day with thinking about one thing that you enjoyed in the day, one thing you appreciated in a person, and one thing about God. Don’t fear to examine your day.
We need to become quiet before retiring and give ourselves space to think. For what moment in the day am I most grateful, for what moment am I least grateful, and when did I feel most alive today? There is healing in reflection. When we come to an understanding of a day’s events, we can lie down in peace. We will sleep better if we have a contemplative time before sleep.
Praying Back Scripture (Lectio Divina) – Irene Ascough
The Bible is a love letter from God that is precious and needs to be savoured. Read passages in small chunks and ask God to highlight a word or phrase. As God reveals an idea in the passage determine how you can apply it to your life and then pray it back to God making adjustments in your life and promises to change as the word teaches you.
Healthy Fighting – Barry Plett and Darren Plett
Darren and Barry shared ground rules for healthy theological discussions. They used the current question about women in ministry and the opposing viewpoints as a way of illustrating how to speak to a topic where there is a difference of opinion. This workshop is coming out in a video in the new year.
Scott and Debbie set up a prayer area where there were seven stations for prayer. Sometimes we just need time with God, and this prayer area helped focus our prayers in different areas of the conference and our lives. They also suggested that we could take prayer walks through Pinawa to enjoy God’s beauty and God Himself.
Activities besides eating and visiting included enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, especially the sunsets and early morning mist rising from the water. Recreational challenges included a pool contest, a table tennis tournament, and a curling bonspiel.
The weekend allowed leaders to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy recreation. Our thanks go to the Board of Leadership and Outreach.
Phil and Lydia Hamm are from the Leamington EMC.