This dangerous place called Earth is filled with darkness and sin. However, we can put our hope and trust in God who is willing to be our Refuge.
WEEK ONE started on August 25 with 52 students from Cofradía, San Marcos, Arrayanes, Santa Fe, and El Tigre. This is our eighth year and each year is more and more intense as we reach out to students to give them hope in a confused world and we all learn from the many teachable moments that arise during the six week event.
This year, it's LA ZONA DE PELIGRO (The Danger Zone). Satan is working hard at deceiving many and twisting the truth to prevent anyone from knowing or sometimes even getting close to knowing his enemy, God. The world has become a Danger Zone filled with temptations to live as one pleases fulfilling their hearts desires no matter what the consequences may be. The problem is, most of us don't see the dangers in front of us. We think that others are in the wrong and we're correct. Today's society says, "if it feels good, it must be right", or "what's right for you is right for you, but what's right for me is what's right for me." This is the deceptive tactic of Satan that blinds us and prevents us from seeing the truth. What is truth? JESUS CHRIST. He has to be our moral standard. He was in the beginning when the world was created. He is the only one who has been risen from the dead and has not died again. There is no other way to get to God. Religion won't do it, nor will a "good life." This world is full of darkness and Jesus is the Light that helps us see.
The theme verse for this year comes from Psalm 23:4 and says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Our hope is in God who is with us. His shepherds rod and staff protect, comfort, and encourage us in the midst of darkness. "God is our REFUGE and strength, an ever present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1).
Many of the dynamics we will use this year are very similar to previous years such as captains and teams, races, relays, eating contests, hidden treasures, voting for other teams to do chores, Staff to council and help students see how they can grow through their struggles. One thing that is very different from years past is what we're calling EL REFUGIO (The Refuge). The youth room has been converted into a place of refuge for the students after all the games. During that time, we have no distinction of teams, everyone is "on the same team" and they have some free time to hang out, watch Christian worship videos, play board games, etc. While some staff are spending time with the students, other staff are serving a snack or meal for the students. It's a time for the students to be themselves. At a certain moment, we all get together and start to worship God, then we have a time of positive reinforcement where people can give "Filipos" (an encouraging word to others for an act of kindness--Filipo is "Philippi" in English and is the location where the Philippians lived in Bible times. The letter that the Apostle Paul wrote was a letter of encouragement.) The Filipos that are given are accompanied with point for that person's team. A short message follows the Filipo time and then it's off to vote for a team to do chores. Each team is called to the back room individually to vote, then sent outside to wait.
Week #1 started with Pastor Luis explaining the theme "The Danger Zone" and verse Psalm 23:4. After putting everyone in teams, each team was to design and paint a team flag with the name of their team on it. Everything needs to associate with the RETO theme and the story they chose for their team. This is their identity for the rest of the RETO! This year, we have six teams again. Not every team followed the instructions correctly associated their team name with their Bible story AND the RETO theme...
Fuchsia Team "The Seducers" led by Alfredo
Blue Team "The Protected" led by Andres
Green Team "The Preventers" led by Jazmin
Orange Team "The Levites" led by Fran
Purple Team "The Immortals" led by Jorge
Red Team "The Vigil" led by Karo
After the Identity time, we had them search for six puzzle pieces in six different locations. No team had the same route, but every team went the same distance. In each location, the team had the option of answering a 10 question quiz about the bible for points or just grabbing the puzzle piece in that location. In the end, most teams answered all the questions. Only The Immortals got all ten questions correct on one of the quizzes, and they did it twice which helped them get the most points of all the other teams and win a prize at the end. The prize was immunity from the vote and all the first clues to the hidden treasures.
As the teams arrived from their search for the puzzle pieces, they received points for putting the puzzle together; a three dimensional refuge house made of styrofoam. Once they put it together, they could go upstairs to THE REFUGE. They had an awesome time, there was lots of energy and many of the students said that that was the best part of the day. THAT WAS OUR GOAL!...so that THE REFUGE would be a place that the students WANTED to be. Through this teachable moment, they will understand that God is their refuge in the midst of a challenging life. When the students leave the REFUGE, they will always have with them a rod and staff of the color of their team as they encounter challenges in the games and activities we have prepared.
Enjoy the video that Max put together of the first week!!!
Here are some pics of WEEK ONE:
EL RETO BEGINS AS PASTOR LUIS EXPLAINS THIS YEAR'S THEME
THIS YEAR TEAMS WILL BE CARRYING A ROD AND STAFF REPRESENTING GOD'S PRESENCE IN "THE DANGER ZONE"
THE PUZZLE THE TEAMS NEEDED TO FIND PIECES OF AND PUT TOGETHER...A REFUGE
THE REFUGE: HANG OUT TIME
THE REFUGE: SERVING
THE REFUGE: WORSHIP
AFTER TEAMS VOTE, THEY EXPERIENCE A MAKESHIFT DANGER ZONE AS A WARNING TO WHAT THEY CAN EXPECT OUTSIDE THE REFUGE
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