Retreating is a unique activity. Most times in life our motto is never retreat. People do not want to appear weak or out of control. When people choose to come to The Oaks, in some sense this is what they are doing though; they need to retreat from the mundane to experience something, anything that reinvigorates their spirit.
Our desire at The Oaks is that groups would come here and be able to thrive. We have such a variety of groups that come to learn, experience and grow in different ways. Groups that partner with our fully programmed camps, groups that plan and run their own retreats, individuals who come to get away, volunteers who invest time and talents, and staff that seek to serve and empower people to be Christian leaders in their communities.
Recently, we had two weekends with retreating groups that have a special purpose. Both of the groups were Korean churches who have specific and focused ministries with special needs members of their churches. They bring around 80 people and half of the participants have some form of special needs, most mentally impaired.
You sit back and get to watch people receive help with such grace and others give help with such servant attitudes. The retreat helpers guide the participants through games and worship and learning activities. Plates are carried and food picked up off the floor. The participants get to partake in archery with aid and laser tag; they smile and have fun and are valued for being themselves. Christ is reflected through every participant as they humbly receive care and trust in their caretaker to guide them through the challenges of life. Christ is reflected through the helpers as they lay down their retreating experience to offer the ability to retreat to others.
Pray for these people with impairments, that Jesus would be the center of their lives and that those of us without visible impairments would remember to serve and humble ourselves before others. Pray for all of our groups, that their lives would be marked by their time here and that God would receive the glory that he deserves allowing retreatants to thrive.