Oregon Hosts Young Adult Retreat

June 20, 2016 | Benjamin Lundquist

NOTE: Benjamin Lundquist, new Oregon Conference young adult ministries director, shares here his firsthand observations of this year’s Young Adult Spring Retreat.

I was invited to speak for this year’s annual Oregon Conference Young Adult Spring Retreat held at Camp Magruder in Rockaway Beach. As I drove along the Wilson River heading toward Tillamook, I prayed for the coming weekend, asking Jesus to do incredible things for His honor and glory.

On this particular day the sun was in full view. Coming from Arizona, this was a familiar sight. What I hoped for was to see a vision during the weekend of what Jesus wanted to do as Oregon Conference young adult ministry moves into a new chapter. Looking back, God provided that and so much more. 

In one form or another, almost every conversation, worship music set and spoken message seemed to be about Jesus. Even the huge game of Ultimate Frisbee that took place on the beach seemed to have a selfless Jesus component.

The messages I shared during the retreat talked about developing a unshakable identity in Jesus as our Father, anchoring attendees in the hope that if they know Jesus and know what He thinks about them, then they can truly know who they are. Josh and Sara Withers and Greg Phillips led worship music, and somehow even the lyrics supported this idea of knowing your true identity in Him. 

Young adults attended from all over the Oregon Conference, and even a few made the drive down from Walla Walla. Having spent little time with this group before, I watched, talked, listened and ate with them during the two days we were together. The attendees connected in a way that made one think they had all known each other for years.

Even though they came from different communities, churches, backgrounds and faith journeys, these young adults blended in a way that was accepting, caring, honest and encouraging. I would have invited any young adult I know to spend time with this group without any hesitation, knowing they would feel at home. 

One of the highlights of this retreat was spending an hour alone with Jesus on the beautiful grounds of Camp Magruder. Each attendee turned off their phone, grabbed a Bible and headed off to a space where they could have some honest dialogue with Jesus. In this fast paced world, these quiet moments can be few and far between. The hour was filled with prayer, reading, singing, listening and enjoying an uninterrupted moment.

As I debriefed this experience with the group, the testimonies were rich and powerful. The challenge was accepted to not just talk about doing life with Jesus, but to actually carve out the time to make it happen beyond this event.

For me, this young adult retreat was a small vision of things to come in Oregon. I caught a vision for a young adult ministry in Oregon where Jesus is uplifted, any young adult can find a place in a growing community and young adult leaders are living a real journey of faith for themselves.

As I drove back to Portland on Sunday, Friday’s sun was gone, but the real vision I saw was still present.

This young adult retreat has grown the last few years under the care of Tracy Woods, who now serves at the North American Division, and Les Zollbrecht, Oregon Conference youth director. I look forward to more retreats like this in the future and ask for your prayers as Oregon Conference young adult ministries launches into a new chapter.