This post is from the JMBzine Blog Vault, which means it is a very old blog post that I wrote at a very different time of my life. My views on religion (I’m now a Humanistic Jew), politics (today I’m a democratic socialist), and many other subjects (LGBTQ+ inclusion, abortion rights, etc.) have drastically changed over the years, so please bear this in mind when reading this post.
I just got done with my rounds again. I counted and tonight I will do rounds 12 times. That is like walking 40 blocks! It doesn’t seem that far though, as I only do them every 45 minutes. At between by 3:55, and my 4:40 rounds, I had a wonderful quiet time. I started by praying through a doxology I found out a Catholic prayer book. I then read Psalm 84, and read a devotional reading out of another book on that Psalm. (I love Psalm 84, especially the part that says, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand outside.” What a statement!)
Well I guess this is as good of a time as any to tell about the Hope college retreat. It was awesome! We got there shortly before lunch time on Saturday. (I was totally blessed because Alan loaned me some dinero so I could go.) After registering, we ate lunch in their cafeteria. (btw the camp was Latham Springs Baptist Encampment. It is about 12 miles west of West, TX, near Waco.) Lunch was another cool blessing, because it was brisket and sausage with bbq sauce. Do to my poverty as of late, I hadn’t eaten much meat lately, so it was so cool to get to enjoy a meal like that. (esp. when it’s all you can eat, baby!)
OK, enough rapsodizing about meat… anyway after lunch, we gathered together for annoucements and some Hope group activity time. Then, we had our rec. fun time. We had our mud pits. TONS of Fun! I have never been so dirty in my life.
After I finally got somewhat clean, then we had supper, and then it was time for worship. This is the highlight of the retreat. The worship was just very intense, and you could feel the presence of God. Most of it is hard to explain, but one part that does stand out in mind was from the song, “Arise Oh God.” In one of the last verses, it goes like this..
Do not forget (hear our cry)
the voice of your enemies (hear our cry)
Rise up with a roar (in their midst)
At this point, the song was just in an incredible point, and we were singing with such intensity, and people were praying in the Spirit, and suddenly I just felt this enormous burden. I almost started crying, because it was almost like I was hearing the voices of the persecuted church crying out to God, crying out for justice for their enemies, and crying out for mercy to be shown for them. In that brief moment, I felt like I was “standing in the gap” for them, and it was so overwhelming, to experience that pain.
It is hard to explain what happened at that moment, except to say that I believe it was God at work. Since then I have really felt like that we as the body of Christ, need to be interceeding like crazy on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Jesus right now.
As we continued to worship, we then moved into another thing. There were a group of intercessors from Hope who were there to pray for anyone and everyone who wanted prayer that night. This time of prayer was so amazing! I had two Godly women pray for me, Overa (not sure how she spells her name), and Martha, and it was just so amazing. While it was not my intent to ask them to pray for this, it just kinda came out that most of my uncertainty about my future has to do with fear of what my parents would think, if I did what I really thought was best.
It was such a comfort for them to pray with me, and to talk with me. As it turned out, Martha also came from a CoC background and understood much of what I was dealing with. I came to a greater understanding that I must trust in God, and He in his right time can turn my family around, but I must do what is right and trust him in the meantime. (Of course that is easier said than done. 😉
After the worship time was over, I went out by myself, and walked into the woods a little ways where the lights weren’t shining and I could see the stars clearly and I just prayed. As I prayed I felt strongly that God would give me the strength to do what was right, and that I should consider more intensive areas of ministry, like maybe Project UT after I graduate. So right now, I am thinking a lot about that. Right now, the big areas that God has given me a heart for and/or given me giftings in are working with college students, and doing stuff online. I’m not sure how all of this is going to work out, but I know I just got to trust in God.
The next day was pretty humdrum, but some cool stuff. I got to be better friends with several folks, and we had some cool Hope Group time. We also had some more very intense worship, and in the worship, we prayed a prayer of commitment, that we were giving this year to the Lord. I know those are big words, but I also know God can help me to do it. I now just have to engage my will to be obedient.
On the way home, we stopped at the Elite Cafe, the place where Elivs ate on the traffic circle in Waco. Most of our Hope Group was there, which was very cool.
Ok, well that’s pretty much it. To say the least though, it was a really cool time with the Lord.
Editor’s notes (2023): The Elite Cafe closed its doors in 2016, but later reopened as Magnolia Table. (see also Texas over time: Waco’s Elite Cafe – The 1952 Renovation and Magnolia Table today.) Also I should explain two important details: (1) the church group that I was part of at this time was the college student ministry of Hope Chapel of Austin, Texas, (2) the first part of this post (where I talked about doing rounds) was written while I was working as an overnight security guard at a sorority house at UT-Austin.