Lucy, and our daughter Marina and I have just come back from a week’s retreat in the Costwolds. For the last 14 years we have been attending a week long family house party on the site of a school near Chipping Norton with a group organised by the Stewards Trust (The Stewards Trust Website) with about 20 other families.
The week involves early morning prayer, worshipping God with a live band, some incredible talks – this year’s theme was ‘It’s One Life: Don’t waste it!’ led by Revd. Roger Simpson (who is responsible to Archbishop John Sentamu for evangelism in the North), followed by group discussions.
All the children, teenagers and students go off into groups led by young adults. For the last few years some of our children have passed through the university stage and have been joining us for the adults talks, which has been a delight.
The afternoons are spent playing tennis, swimming or doing some other organised game.
Or time spent in reflective prayer with others. After drinks in the evening we have dinner organised so that we sit next to and meet everyone. There are more discussions in the evening on topical issues and on the last evening Scottish reels. Immense fun.
The week was simply amazing. We have made such close friends over the years. Both parents and their children get to know people really well. It is so amazing seeing them develop in their relationship with Jesus, over so many years despite the many challenges that life throws at them. It is a delight seeing small children turn into committed Christian adults leading such totally different lives to so many of their contemporaries at school and university and beyond. It is a joy to see those who were children 14 years ago bringing back their own children to the houseparty.
The Stewards Trust is seeking to develop mentoring relationships to help navigate through life and I know that many of the young people have taken up that opportunity, as indeed I have myself.
There is no doubt that these weeks of intensive study, time spent with other Christians and worshipping God together have been immensely powerful in guiding the course of Lucy and my lives together and those of our two daughters.
But they are not the only weeks of this kind available during the Summer. If you are up for doing some camping, New Wine (New Wine website) runs two fantastic weeks in the Summer at which there are similar opportunities. Holy Trinity Brompton runs a week called Focus as well HTB Focus Website. Soul Survivor specialises in teenagers Soul Survivor Website.
But for individual families perhaps the Stewards Trust is the way to go. Whichever you choose, you need to book early – i.e NOW for 2017 as the weeks get booked up fast. If you want to know more, please do drop me an email.
Immense fun and life transforming – about as good as a retreat can get, I think…..