Christianity Religion or Life

"I have come that they may have life, and that

they may have it more abundantly" John 10:10



With the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Behnam and St. Mark’s Orthodox Churches held their 4th annual youth retreat 2011 the weekend of July 31st – August 1st at the Valley of the Mother of God in Orangeville. This three day event led by both Father Jack and Father John began with prayers on Saturday morning followed by breakfast provided by the monastery.  After, the youth engaged in a game of ice breakers giving them the opportunity to get acquainted. Following the games, Father Jack presented a lecture entitled “Christianity: Religion or Life?” which gave the youth an idea behind the true meaning of Christianity.

The main message that Father Jack was trying to convey is that one must change his/her mind, both mentally and emotionally, as well as experience a change of direction in order to live his/her life as a true Christian, not just by the title, but also by actions and strong beliefs.  Following the lecture, the youth had the choice of picking two workshops to attend. These workshops were prepared and led by a couple of our own youth who took the time to research and present topics that combined religion and challenging situations we face throughout our daily lives. Once the sessions were completed, the youth had free time to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the monastery and get to know each other more. After dinner, the youth engaged in a game of bingo where the questions were based on the Gospel of Mark. Not only did they have a great time, but it gave them a chance to read the book of Mark and know it well since it was a closed bible game. Following bingo, the youth ended Saturday night with a movie entitled “Letters to God.” The story was about an 8 year old boy fighting cancer that touches and changes the lives of his community and inspires hope among everyone in his presence. This non-fictional film touched and affected many of our own youth as they sat heartbroken and in tears. The reason this movie was chosen to be shown at the retreat is to show the youth that life is precious and that we may deal with numerous problems in our lives but having strong faith and believing that God is always by our side is very important. Sunday morning began with Father Jack and Father John leading the Divine Liturgy, where families of the youth and members of our community joined and stayed for lunch provided by the monastery. After, Father John presented his lecture entitled “Who am I?” based on the misconception of presenting ourselves with our names, titles, or addresses, rather than our Christianity. Following the lecture, the youth were given free time where many enjoyed outdoor activities such as zip lining. Later on in the evening, the youth gathered around the bonfire praising the Lord and showing off their God given talents. The day ended with yet another great movie entitled “Saving God”, a movie about hope and salvation. Our eventful and successful retreat ended Monday afternoon after morning prayers, a game, and a final message from both Fathers which was to leave the retreat with an open heart, one that is willing to find the truth, accept change, and accept God.