The Next Steps Retreat – THAT ALMOST WAS NOT
“Worth it” – this was the unanimous feedback given by participants of the three-day 2018 Next Steps Retreat held from August 25-27. It was a strong ending to a missions retreat that almost didn’t materialize.
“Until the last minute, we only had eight registrants. And it’s our policy to require a minimum of 10 participants before we push through with this retreat,” explained the overall coordinator.
The Home Office mobilization team sat down to deliberate whether to push through or not. It was an unusual case. But for some reason, the decision came out quite easily and unanimously: Proceed.
And just before August 25, two more registrations came in.
The Next Steps Retreat, designed to give Christians an overview of what it takes to get workers to the mission field and how to help them find their place in it, brought in people from all walks of life: bookkeeper-accountants, a call center agent, an engineer, a writer, a church worker, a student, and a CEO.
It was a long weekend, Monday being a legal non-working holiday. This was an opportunity that people usually use to go to a travel destination or to go home to their province. In the morning of day one, it was raining hard in Quezon City and in some parts of southern Luzon where some participants were coming from. Already, a few were asking themselves – Was this the right decision?
But as the retreat unfolded, and as the participants got to meet their missionary-trainers and hear of their ‘war stories’ from the field, one could feel the excitement mounting. The carefully designed devotional materials on one’s calling, and the road going there, were sent to participants beforehand for prior reflection. The small group discussions on these at Next Steps, however, enriched the passages with insights from both facilitators and participants.
Participants found it amazing to observe that God used people with different backgrounds and personalities in the mission fields. Participants took an inventory of their life journey through the Timeline Exercise and underwent a fast-paced, heart-pounding missions field simulation experience (Decision Game). The three-day format allowed for sufficient time for teaching, discussion, reflection, fellowship and activities. This thrust the participants’ Next Steps experience from the realm of the academic to practical application. At the conclusion of the retreat’s program, the participants had made clear, specific decisions to help them move forward in their missions journey, whatever role the Lord may have for them.
“I am encouraged by the outcome of this year’s Next Steps Retreat. This was the first major decision I made, and I am comforted and very blessed to see that our decision to push through with the retreat – despite the fact that we didn’t have the numbers at first – was correct,” says incoming OMF Philippine Home Council Executive Director Grace Moron.
At the end of the retreat, the participants or “The Ten” as they called themselves, expressed gratitude to the team behind the event who took a risk on them, journeyed with them and invested in them. This mentoring team is composed of those in the mobilization as well as field missionaries.