Every year, our youth ministry department advertises two winter retreats called “Breakaway Weekend” for high school and middle school students as “the best weekend of your life.” While you may have heard about how Breakaway is full of deep worship, prayer, talks, small group reflection time (with a good dose of free time and games), we want you to know more about the supportive community that crafts this whole weekend, helping students to draw close to God and to each other.
What are your hopes and prayers for your ministries in 2019?
Francis Kim, Middle School Boys Coordinator: One of my biggest highlights from 2018 is our students taking ownership of this youth group. I’ve seen so much growth in our students, especially our students who are in the leadership program called CORE. My hope in 2019 is for more students who have a relationship with Jesus to experience continual growth in their faith and understanding of God, and for them to take ownership too. And for those students who are not believers, I want them to have a clear understanding of who Jesus is and to accept Him as their Lord and their savior. My prayer is that this youth group will be a place where true brotherhood and sisterhood is formed through Christ, where everyone lives out and demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit, where the love of Jesus Christ is represented, where we can provide a space for our students to meet God, and where students can be themselves (feeling safe to ask and wrestle through hard questions) and share their struggles.
Bekah Valerio, Middle School Assistant Director: My 2018 New Year’s memory/resolution verse was Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So often ministry (and life) can be hyper focused on “doing” more, being better, achieving something greater, that we can often forget that our real confidence in our everyday lives should be in the fact that we can go to God as we are, and that He will lift us up. This has been a beautiful verse to meditate on, as it is a constant reminder that my job is not to solve my students’ problems (then they would simply depend on me to tell them what to do every time life gets a little bit hard), but to constantly and consistently demonstrate to them a discipline and trust to bring everything to the feet of the cross. If they can set their foundation on the Lord, they can flourish through anything. My constant prayer for my students is that they would find their real identity rooted in their Savior, and from that they would find peace from anxiety, freedom from sins, and confidence to turn the faith in their hearts into actions that ripple and share the Gospel to the people around them. This year we are focusing a lot of energy on teaching them how to pray, and also bringing in a new culture of taking notes during talks so that our messages will be longer lasting.
Preston Hansen, High School Assistant Director: My hope is that students would come to experience God in a new and amazing way! That the Spirit would overflow in and transform students' hearts so they will follow the path God has laid out for them. God has been teaching me to build relationships based on seeing people where they are coming from in their own lives. I had an opportunity this year to meet with four high school guys at the mall in Springfield. One of the guys wanted me to come and talk about God to his friends and let them ask questions. I thought this was an amazing opportunity and very sweet of this boy. I have continued to invest in them and listen to what they have to say.
Rachel Hansen, High School Girls Coordinator: I hope for myself, my leaders and my students to have a greater understanding of the Gospel and how important it is for our world today. Going to Haiti was the highlight of last year. God is teaching me to release control and trust Him in the everyday details of my job. I am excited to see new faces (we bring ten other churches with us to Breakaway Weekend) and to watch the students dig deeper into their faith.
What is your go-to verse?
Preston: Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."
Bekah: Psalm 91 is a constant reminder of the Lord’s covering of me. I feel most invincible when I am resting in and celebrating God’s love for me when I worship Him and focus on his protective love for me. This happens in good times but also in the difficulties of life as well.
Francis: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has been my go to verse. By acknowledging and realizing that I can’t do anything without God, I trust in God more in everything that I do. Because I’m surrendering everything to God, I know God will do amazing work by using me. The only time when I feel invincible is when I surrender everything to Him because I know I am weak.
Rachel: Lamentations 3:22-24, 1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 1
What is a sermon application that really stood out to you? Why?
Francis: Pastor Francis Chen had an illustration that really stood out to me when I was listening to one of his sermons. He brought out this long rope, and in the small edge, it was marked with red coloring. He stated that the short edge of red was a representation of this short life on earth and the rest of the long rope was eternity. Compared to eternity, this life on earth is extremely short. However, the decision we make on this earth will determine where we will be in eternity. This is a good reminder to me of why I’m in ministry. I want our students to know Jesus so that they could be with God after this life.
Bekah: I still remember one of the last Sundays before we left our original building, John Yates gave a beautiful sermon about how God never calls His people to settle, but to always keep moving and furthering the kingdom of God. Whenever I feel stagnant, I remember John’s wise words and pray for the Lord to show me what beautiful thing He wants me to walk into next, and He never disappoints.
How can we be praying for breakaway?
Brock Morgan, Director of Youth Ministry: A recent study came out that showed how this generation of young people is the busiest, most stressed out, addicted, anxious, and loneliest generation in history. I’m not sure how they know every generation in history's anxiety levels, but we can attest that what we are seeing is unlike anything else we’ve ever seen as youth workers. But here’s the truth: God is faithful and every time we get kids away from the busyness and the chaos of their daily lives, we see Him show up in spectacular ways. This is why we are so committed to regular retreats, camps, and mission trips. They really do change lives. This year we couldn’t be more excited to take away hundreds of middle school and high school students to this winter retreat. Our hope is to see the truth and good news of the Gospel of Jesus illuminated in a way that transforms the direction of our young people’s lives. Our hope is for healing, vision, and new life. In fact, our theme this year is taken from 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" Please join us in praying that God does what He does best. That lives are changed and new life is birthed!
The youth ministry department is always looking for volunteers! They have simple, one-time opportunities such as selling snacks on a Sunday night to year-long commitments like being a consistent weekly small group leader, Bible study leader, or a monthly mentor to our CORE student leadership team. There are also opportunities to help lead a mission trip. The youth department seeks volunteers who love the Lord, love students, and are willing to invest in them.
High School Breakaway took place the weekend of Feb. 15-18, but there is still time to register for Middle School Breakaway before the price increase on Feb. 25!