A group of 51 Northwestern students and faculty left on Sept. 23 for the campus-wide retreat at Lakeshore Center in Okoboji, Iowa. This experience was organized by the prayer and event coordinators Abigail Blok and Emily Berggren, with the help of the director of discipleship, Kristin Brouwer.
“Working with Kristin, Emily and I were able to share what we had in mind for the retreat and the hopes that we had for the students and faculty that came,” said Blok. “This year our vision was to fully engage students in a time of rest, community, and worship.” The team sought to bring this vision to life through the schedule and theme for the weekend.
This year’s theme for the retreat was ‘multiply.’ Students were taught how they can grow, or multiply, in faith while making disciples. “Something I am taking away from this weekend is my ability to multiply God’s disciples in every circle I am a part of. I have the ability to grow God’s kingdom through his children by intentional and intimate relationships with those around me,” said sophomore Abbie Mellgren.
The weekend began with NW vehicles leaving campus at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and arriving at the camp site at 8:30 p.m. Everyone then settled into their cabins before starting the first session with Erick Whigham, 2006 alumni of NW and co-lead pastor at Citylight Council Bluffs Church. Each session included a time of worship and teaching from Whigham. Students and faculty would then break out into small groups to discuss what stuck out to them the most from the lesson.
Saturday, the group’s only full day at Okoboji, began with a lesson in the morning from Whigham. Then, students split off again into small groups. Afterwards, everyone was encouraged to take time to spend in solitude.
Over the course of the weekend, students experienced God working in their hearts. “I want to say I kind of saw God the whole time,” said senior Karson Gieseke, “I felt like by the time we started worship the very first session, I could feel God’s presence.”
On the ride back to NW, students mentioned how if they could describe this weekend in a picture, it would be of the lake scenery or the feeling of everyone worshipping together. Students came back to campus midafternoon Sunday feeling rested, refreshed and renewed. Mellgren said she was “feeling mentally rested and joyful.”
Students and faculty seemed to enjoy their time on the retreat and feel more prepared to take on the rest of this semester. From the deep, heart-to-heart conversations at the table to laughing around the bonfire, the campus retreat allowed students the space and time to grow deeper in relationship with others and with God.