When we got there, we had all afternoon before the retreat actually started, so my mom and Pam, another leader, and I walked around downtown Ptown. We found a Lebanese restauraunt and had lunch (Pam's lunch is above), soaked in the sun, and scoured the Outdoor Store for buys. It was a wonderful time enjoying thoughtful conversation and getting to know each other better!
The retreat started after dinner that evening. Susie, the new executive director, preached though the book of Revelation. My first reaction to Revelation has usually been, "Wow, that's a wild book!" I discovered that it's really an amazing book of the Bible! More about that later. Thousands of leaders were there from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, and Canada. We sang tons of hymns!
The next day was spent in classes. Mom and I chose to walk from our hotel to the conference center. It was a beautiful morning. We heard more from the book of Revelation, heard personal testimonies from the BSF headquarters staff, and listened to a talk on the cross of Christ. Did you guys know that China has allowed BSF to start as many classes as they want in the country, and the classes are open for Chinese nationals to attend? One BSF even meets in a building that is built over the site of a prison camp where Miss Johnson, the founder of BSF, was imprisoned and prayed for the gospel to reach the Chinese people! God is amazing!
We heard about some changes happening soon in BSF. Some of the rules are going to be relaxed, and most excitingly, BSF is going to start translating their materials, first into Chinese, then into Spanish so that more people can study the word of God in their heart language.
As we were leaving the conference center Saturday night on the public transport, a Blazers game was ending. So an already overstuffed max was bombarded with even MORE crowds of people. We were crammed in there pretty tightly by American standards.
Mom and I being scrunched up in the train.
Saturday night after the meetings, our BSF leadership met in the hotel lobby to play catchphrase. One additional blessing of the retreat was that our class bonded so much more! What a unique group of ladies it is! We're from so many different backgrounds, yet have true Christian unity because we're all focused on the same thing - knowing God through His word!
Here's the crowds of BSF leaders entering the center Sunday. After breakfast, we had TWO whole hours to spend in personal meditation in the word. Two hours didn't seem like enough time! We were supposed to be in complete silence after breakfast until the singing started at the conference center. After Susie wrapped up the book of Revelation: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus", we all joined hands and sang, "God be with you till we meet again". It was powerful to realize that we all are going to meet again someday. To think that every person in that room was indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Gives me goosebumps to think about.
Revelation is a neat book. We get so hung up on the controversial interpretations of the various judgments described in it that we tend to miss the huge main message of the book: God is on His throne, and He is in control of it all!
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last"
"You are worthy to open the scroll!"
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!"
"What He opens, no one can shut, and what He shuts, no one can open."
The main lesson I received from Revelation is that no matter what happens in my lifetime, I am simply called to obedience and steadfastness. If things get really cruddy, and even if my life is threatened, nothing changes the fact that God is in control, and as I press on, God is glorified. Sometimes we don't see the result of faithfulness right away. It might be heaven until we see the result of our obedience. But we have the hope of heaven. What a hope it is. What love and mercy has been showered on us. I feel so undeserving. Yet God is such a God.