I can’t believe it’s already a couple of weeks since the 2021 BCM Retreat at Falls Creek, April 9-11. About 800 students and collegiate ministers were at the retreat. It was one of the largest events I have been at in about a year with all the COVID craziness that has been going on in the last 12 months.
The theme for the retreat was “Declare”— and I do declare that I had a good time talking to the students I met at the retreat—and it was good to see some familiar faces from the focus groups as well. Many I spoke to told me they were also glad to be able to gather in such large numbers for a change.
I dropped in on the retreat on Saturday to cover it for the Baptist Messenger (Which by the way you should look into getting a free print subscription too here. It’s the best deal in any town in Oklahoma!).
Anyway, if you’ve read any of my blog posts about the interviews I did with BCM Students— BCM, AN ‘ESSENTIAL’ MINISTRY, BCM: ‘JUST-IN-TIME’ DISCIPLESHIP AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING and SIX THINGS BCM STUDENTS WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEMSELVES—you’d know that I am a big fan of these students and this ministry. I could yammer on and on about them, but instead I would like to let the students speak for themselves. As you will see, they got a lot out of the retreat. The students told me they loved the breakouts, the recreation and the times of worship in a large group at the retreat.
Gabriel Bray, who is part of the Tulsa Community College (TCC) BCM said, “It’s been great, the breakouts, and it’s been a time of learning for me. One (breakout) was about relationships and dating. It talked about how God needs to be important at the start of any relationship.”
Cameron Steadman, also from TCC said, “It’s nice to see young adult Christians come together and praise Jesus. You don’t see that very often because the world is, how the world is,” he said.
Caleb Judkins, a senior at Southeastern Oklahoma State (SOSU) said, “For me (the retreat) has meant a whole lot. It’s been a great reminder of God providing stability. COVID has made things very crazy, so I am not exactly used to being able to dive in to all this—the breakouts and all these people being so intentional. I am not used to being around people a ton. It’s been a great reminder of God having put these people in my life that mean a lot to me. To be unified with church together.”
Maddy Clarck from SOSU said, “This is actually my first time to be at Falls Creek. It’s an amazing camp. (The retreat has) been a good reminder how God can work and how He’s made such wonderful things here.”
Cherokee, a student from NEO said, “It’s been wonderful. I have had so many great experiences here. God showed me He knew I wanted to come here for a reason. It’s so cool to see how God has taken me and placed me here to experience this. I can wait to see where God will take me next.”
Caleb Smith a freshman from NEO, said, “The way that everybody I have been rooming with has helped me, hanging out with them and bringing me into their family and their church. It’s a lot of fun. I loved the volleyball very much!”
Ashlyn Ford, a freshman at NEO said, “The community here is great. It’s definitely a lot different to be in a large gathering like this. The dynamics back at our campus, we can’t hand out as much, so I am glad I came.”
Keifer Massey, who is from Oklahoma Christian University is involved with the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) BCM, said, “For me, this retreat has really been inspiring, to say the least. To see all these friends and how they serve the Lord, has helped me figure out what my life should look like serving Christ. It gets me fired up seeing all these other people. I have old friends at different BCMs now and getting plugged back in with them. Meeting all the new people, inspires me to grow more and dig deeper into God’s love.”
Audrey Allard, a sophomore at UCO said, “This has been a time of rest. A time of spiritual rest, a spiritual recharge. With COVID, with stopping classes, having online school, then going back to in-person classes. It’s been a lot of back-and-forth. This has been a great weekend to re-center with likeminded people and friends.”
There were numerous international students at the retreat.
Dat Vu is from Vietnam, and is a third year dental student at University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry. He is involved with the BCM at OUHSC and shared the story about how he came to Christ with me as we sat on my golf cart as we sat parked near the prayer garden that overlooks the Falls Creek campus.
Vu told me he had been an avowed atheist most of his life, but circumstances led him to a place of openness to the Gospel. “The moment I realized God is real,” he said, “happened when I was listening to a sermon.”
The message that day was on Malachi 3:10, Vu explained, the text: “’Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty.” I learned by listening to that sermon that He loved me, and He was longing for me to come back to Him. I thought, ‘Yes, okay, let me test You.’ I prayed to Him, and He gave me so much peace of mind that I said, ‘OK, let’s get on the journey, God.”
I couldn’t write all the things the students told me. Suffice it to say that the retreat was a good investment in these students made by Oklahoma Baptists who gave through the Cooperative Program, so that it could happen. All of them are further along, as Dat Vu would say, on their journey with God.