MEANS Retreat 2011

2011 MEANS Retreat Group PhotoThe 24th annual MEANS Retreat is over and God was once again gracious and merciful. Fifteen guests were from Michigan, Indiana, and Toronto and all together there were 40 including children. It was held at the Life Action Camp in Buchanan, Michigan, by Clear Lake. We had beautiful weather; a good time to reflect; a time to seek God, to learn from Him and from one another; and to enjoy the fellowship. Our retreat theme was: Leading without Power…”act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.”
Bing Roncesvalles, our retreat facilitator from ASDECS, facilitated 3 sessions to help MEANS see where we are now after 25 years of service and what we wish to be 25 years from now. She traced the growth of MEANS from when it started in 1972 to when God had started to move in the lives of people whom He brought to MEANS including ministry partners, donors and volunteers. As we looked at the linear timeline of the organization, we saw how MEANS had experienced many “kairos” moments, that led to its growth. God sent people to MEANS with special giftings from the Holy Spirit to meet the needs of the organization. It was just like putting new wine into new wineskins. Today, MEANS is still growing and being shaped by God. Pray that we will continue to see our role as God uses MEANS in the lives of our ministry partners and donors.

One of our guests, who is a ministry partner, shared her testimony at the retreat. We were awed by God’s miracle in working instant forgiveness in her heart for the killer/killers of her husband in the community where they were working. She is now married to a guy who is also working among this unreached people group. They are planning to go back to the place where her husband was martyred. Her testimony was that after she heard about the death of her husband, she could either choose to hate or to forgive. She chose to forgive…and instantly God removed the bitterness that was in her heart – and she experienced God’s peace! What a powerful testimony!

As a result of the retreat, hearts were touched, and people were moved to respond.
A “KAIROS” (an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment – the supreme moment) experience from a MEANS volunteer:
God truly moves in mysterious ways. I believe when the MEANS mission focus this year was to pray & be concerned for certain unreached people groups, it was the Holy Spirit’s leading. Would you believe God was hammering this in my heart? Our speaker Sunday after our MEANS retreat was an Arab-American Christian, who came from a 4th generation of Christian families. It was very sad to hear that millions of Arab Christians have been persecuted over the centuries. Many have died & many were converted to Islam. I was deeply touched when he said,
“It is very easy these days to demonize Muslims, dehumanize them and make it justifiable to hate them. If we consciously or unconsciously omit Muslims from The Great Commission (1.6 billion), it will be no longer be the Great Commission, it will become ‘The Great Omission.’”
I was teaching at Notre Dame Middle School when 911 happened. Immediately, the principal organized a ‘reconciliation’ meeting w/ the Islamic school in my town. My anger & prejudices at that time held me back from joining the meetings. Whenever I saw groups of Muslim students (on school field trips) & teachers mingling with us in public, I must admit having the heart of a Pharisee. In 2006, our church’s mission focus was the Muslim world, yet, I was not totally convinced that He truly cares for Muslims. I believe that they were destined for eternity in hell. The horrific scene in New York City is a grim reminder for me and also what has been happening in Mindanao, etc. Well, the Lord dealt with my ‘unconverted heart’ toward Muslims during our MEANS retreat…it was the closest encounter He gave me, meeting Jennifer* and Joe*. Hearing Jennifer’s testimony while wearing her hijab was surreal to me. I quietly surrendered my prejudices and anger as Jennifer prayed in the native tongue of the Muslim group that they are serving. My prayer was simple, “Lord, please forgive me, here’s my heart, help me to love Muslims through your heart.” I may not be at this time on the front line, but I can start to earnestly pray for our missionaries and mission groups who are on the front line doing The Great Commission on Muslim grounds.” This has been my “kairos” experience for these past two weeks.
– MEANS volunteer
*Names changed for their protection
Thank you for inviting us. The girls and I enjoyed the retreat very much and it was nice and refreshing. I want to be more involved with MEANS so you can add me on your list as a Global Connect volunteer. Your team did a great job. Keep up the great work. I praise the Lord for all you do and may He continue to give you joy as you continue to serve Him.
-B. T. S. (Lansing, Michigan)
Thank you for inviting me! It was a blessed experience to have fellowshipped with MEANS volunteers and to have learned new insights from Bing on transformational leadership. There were several mishaps before I arrived at the MEANS retreat! I missed the bus in Toronto going to Grand Rapids; cracked my denture from eating popped-corn to appease my frustration; the immigration officer in the US border imposed interrogations and I had to show him the invite through my Facebook account; I sprained my knee from a sack race that my group lost anyway. Over all, I had a great time worth repeating! Once again, THANK YOU, MEANS!
-O. P. (Toronto, Canada)

MEANS Retreat 2011 – Theme Song: “The Servant Song”
In this issue, we are sharing with you the theme of the MEANS retreat for this year. “The Servant Song” is a good reminder to all of us at MEANS that we are first servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and also servants of one another. Richard Gillard, the composer and lyricist of “The Servant Song” described its origins in the following words: “It was in the first half of 1976 that I wrote verse 3: ‘I will hold the Christ-light for you . . .’ but, initially, no more than that. It wasn’t until one particularly summery Sunday afternoon in December 1976 or January 1977, back in Auckland, New Zealand, that I took that scrap of paper out of my guitar case and began to meditate on that single verse exploring the possibilities that it suggested. I remember that the other verses came quickly – although not in the order in which we now sing the Song.”

Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road;
We are here to help each other, walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow ‘til we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony,
Born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

‘Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”’
The Gospel according to Mark, Chapter 9, Verse 35

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