Following His Lead

By Leah Vanhorn
In eLetter
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This past weekend, I had the honor of leading worship for IBC’s Youth Fall Retreat. The weekend started off with a wild storm, complete with thunder and lightning. I went into the retreat frazzled because my plan for day one had gone out the window. I was feeling really unsure about how the weekend was going to go. However, when we woke up in the cabins Saturday morning, the sun was shining and the energy was electric.

During our first session of worship, I looked around the room at all the faces and was overwhelmed with emotion. Sixteen adults had taken time out of their busy lives, left their families for the weekend, and come with us to minister to youth. How cool is it that our volunteers care about our youth so much that they are willing to sacrifice their time (and sleep!) because they know this is important and valuable work? In addition to that, 70 youth were willing to give up a weekend to come join us. They were expectant about encountering the Lord and excited to spend time with their friends and leaders.

Throughout the day, we had a blast. We played games, shared meals, laughed, and worshipped. I saw teens interacting together in ways they normally don’t. No one had their phones, and I loved the space it created to be present and active together (surprise: they loved it too). I saw middle schoolers and high schoolers hanging out together. I saw a large group of boys playing basketball with some leaders, and a wildly long line of teens and adults waiting to play nine-square. We were doing what we were created to do: worshipping God through enjoyment and community.

Saturday evening was the most touching time for me personally. We had an epic group lip sync battle, Pastor Michael preached a great message, and as the band got up to close out the night in worship the Spirit felt palpable. We were just about to finish the closing song but the atmosphere in the room didn’t feel ready to end, so we decided to sit in it for a minute. What started as a simple response song turned into a beautiful, authentic, and emotional time of prayer and worship. Our youth responded to the Holy Spirit so obediently. There were older students praying for younger students, leaders praying for teens, and kids pouring their hearts out to the Lord. There were tears and hugs and hands raised. I hadn’t experienced worship like that in a youth setting and feel so blessed and honored that the Lord allowed me to be there. My desire is for our youth to experience the Lord like that more often—that we would be a people eagerly desiring His presence.

This youth retreat touched my heart and filled my soul in a way I didn’t know I needed. I had to sacrifice some of what I had planned, but I’m so thankful the Lord knew better and that our youth were wise enough to follow His leading.

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