The Homeland Park youth have had a wonderful fall semester. From Bible studies, to fellowship dinners, to our ENGAGE retreat, we really got to know each other on a deeper level, and more importantly, learn more about God, His Son Jesus, and the nature of our relationships to Him.
Over the course of the semester, our main study topic during Bible study was relationships. We began with an individual’s relationship to God. God is our creator and judge. He created us in His own image, but we rebelled against God in sin. Though we all deserved God’s judgment for sin, He sent His Son, Jesus, to be born as a man to live a perfect life to fulfill God’s law. He died in our place to take away the punishment we deserve and was raised from the grave to give new life. By turning from sin and trusting in Jesus and His work alone for salvation, an individual becomes a child of God, saved from sin into a new relationship with God as His child.
We learned how God’s salvation and a relationship with Him influence all of our relationships, making the way for peace, forgiveness, and joy in relationships with parents, family, and friends. We learned how this relationship with God joins us to the church, God’s people, to worship God, grow in our relationship with Him, and experience the love of God through His people.
During the semester, we had special opportunities to join the rest of the church for fellowship dinners. Aside from Sunday mornings, these fellowship meals are the best times for the adult members of our congregation to pour into students, encouraging them and loving them.
Finally, our youth joined Varennes Heights Baptist Church, New Prospect Baptist Church, and Southside Baptist Church for the ENGAGE student retreat this past November. Our theme for the retreat was “Salt ‘n Light,” as the students learned how believers are to live in this world.
Personally, this is one of my favorite things our ministry does. The retreat, and travel to the retreat, provides a great opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. The teaching, worship, and fellowship reminds us of the centrality of Jesus in the world and in our lives. Furthermore, being able to interact with students from other churches allows them to make new friendships and to develop Christ-centered friendships with people in their schools from other churches.
Our weekend together began with our first worship service. Tony David taught the youth on the weekend and challenged them deeply in different ways to live as Christians in an unchristian world. We then had a snack and smore time around the bonfire to close out the night.
Saturday, we began with a personal devotion time. This is a really cool aspect of the retreat, allowing the students to slow down from all the fun and interact with God through His Word and prayer on a one-on-one basis. The students then split off into breakouts, where they learn how Jesus impacts various areas of their lives. Some of these included using sports as a ministry, finding your ultimate identity in Christ, living as a missionary in your day to day life, and others. The morning time then concluded with another group worship session.
Saturday afternoon featured a lot of time to relax and enjoy fellowship with God and His children through different activities. Students could do flag football, arts and crafts, basketball, the recreation room, and many others. Saturday concluded with a third worship session and amazing talent show. Finally, we departed on Sunday after a time of personal devotion, learning, and worship.
When looking back to the same event a year ago, a lot of growth can be seen in the lives of the youth of our church. They understand more of God, the Gospel, and of how Jesus wants them to live. They are beginning to internalize more and more of what Jesus did for them and how that impacts their lives. They are also becoming more and more open with the adult leaders and with one another. We pray that by time the same time next year, we will continue to see such growth and maturation.
This fall semester has been a great time in the life of Homeland Park Baptist Church and for the Homeland Park Youth! We are excited to see the many ways God is challenging our students to grow and impacting, not only each other, but also the church and the community around us!
Praise the Lord! Praise the God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise him according to His excellent greatness. – Psalm 150:1-2