Discovering the hero God created

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Three hundred attend annual ARC retreat.

by Mark Nelson, Captain –

Delegates gather for the 2008 ARC retreat at Mt. Crags.

“You have three choices this weekend: you can go away informed, you can try to conform by acting like everyone else, or you can truly be transformed!” declared Craig Bowler, special guest for the 2008 Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) Retreat, held at Camp Mt. Crags.

Each year, the retreat, funded entirely by canteen funds raised in each of the ARCs snack bars, hosts beneficiaries, graduates, officers and staff from the 10 Southern California ARCs. In late April, 300 delegates joined for this year’s event.

The theme was “Heroes,” referencing Hebrews 11. Delegates were challenged to seek God in order to be the hero he created them to be and to seek God’s plan for their lives so that they can be the husbands, fathers, brothers and sons he created them to be.

Praiseworks, from the Praiseworks Outpost in Orange County, and Impact, a ministry of the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, came and led powerful worship; the Bakersfield and Canoga Park ARC worship bands also participated. Often during the weekend, seekers—over 150 in all—spontaneously came to the altar during worship.

The retreat featured workshops led by Major Gaylene Yardley, Captain Beau Perez and Craig Bowler and included some ARC-specific elements such as gallons of coffee served around the clock and nightly AA/NA meetings. Recreational opportunities including swimming, “sock ball,” a basketball tournament, and hikes to the swimming hole and the mountaintop cross.

Another important element to the Crags Retreat includes ministry to ARC officers’ kids. Captain Amanda Perez organized a complete Christian education program for children, enlisting help from four students who attend nearby Biola University to teach the kids how to be heroes.

At the end of the retreat, each ARC gathered as a small group and reflected on their experiences. Every man had a chance to share what he received from the retreat and more importantly, to share the commitments he made for the future. For many of the men, the Crags Retreat provided the opportunity to be transformed by God’s power—to become the heroes he created them to be.

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