Southern California Division young adult retreat 2011

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Delegates to the Southern California Division young adult retreat pose outside The Salvation Army Family Services Center in Ventura, Calif. Photo by Stephen Garcia

By Aleen Bradley

Celebrating a year of “Epic Love,” 128 young adults from the Southern California Division gathered at Camp Mt. Crags for the annual young adult retreat.

“Heart to God, Hand to Man,” a familiar Salvation Army phrase, focused attention on the relationship between a heart devoted to God and the love and service of others. The theme verse, from John 13:34-35 reminded delegates, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Over the course of the weekend, delegates could discover an epic love in a variety of ways. Workshops included radical hospitality, social justice, outreach “outside the box,” and the ways in which evangelism and youth culture collide. On Saturday evening, Shelene Bryan of challenged delegates to deny themselves in order to help others in need. Jen Arens, ministry leader at Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, spoke on Sunday morning, reflecting that although we are in a fallen world, fighting against darkness, we are, more importantly, meant to fight for love.

Implementing love in action was another weekend opportunity. Three groups engaged in service and outreach projects on Saturday afternoon in different locations. Camp Mt. Crags welcomed helpers to clean, paint and tidy the facility. Arens and Captain Matthew Madsen led a group to Venice Beach to distribute water bottles and engage others, apologizing on behalf of Christians if the church or a Christian has ever treated them in an unloving way. Captain William Finley took another group into Ventura County where participants conducted a prayer walk and surveyed the homeless population. Almost none of the delegates had ever engaged in outreach opportunities like this and expressed the desire to stay longer.

The spirit of the Lord, moving hearts to compassion and love, inspired this time of fellowship. Pray for the young adults of this division, that they will respond to and take up the command of love for God and love for others.


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